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Enhancing the Competence of Teacher Assistants

by Lorraine Breffni
January/February 2017
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/enhancing-the-competence-of-teacher-assistants/5023340/

Teaching assistants (or aides) play a unique role in early childhood settings. At a minimum, they work collaboratively with the teacher to ensure the classroom runs like a well-oiled machine. They assist with curriculum preparation and implementation. They work under the guidance of the teacher to provide emotional and physical support to all children, including those with special educational needs. They tune in to the nuances of individual children and make adaptations for them. In addition to supporting the classroom teacher, assistants are frequently called upon, sometimes on very short notice, to lead classrooms when the teacher is absent. 

But, as Janice’s experience reveals, opportunities to support teacher assistants as they learn the ‘tools of the teaching trade’ are often overlooked in the busy day-to-day reality of the classroom. What can we do to address this void in a meaningful and productive way? We know that assistants will not learn by osmosis — or by simply being in the presence of a good (or great) teacher. We know that one-shot workshops translate into changes in classroom practice only 10% of the time (Joyce & Showers, 2002). However, we also know that coaching in real time —where a trusted colleague watches a peer ...

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