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Help!! Senior advanced teaching assistant interview task

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by samlong1101, May 10, 2017.

  1. samlong1101

    samlong1101 New commenter

    After being in my current school for 9 years, I have applied for and been invited for an interview in another school. I am to spend 20 minutes working one - to – one with a child and assess what their learning needs might be. This session will be immediately followed by a formal interview.

    I emailed for more information and was told:

    "You will meet a child and spend 20 minutes with them during which time you need to try and identify their learning needs and what information you would share with parents, teacher and teaching assistant. That's all the information I can share. " The age is most likely to be year 3 or 4.

    I am experienced with working with many types of SEN however, I am struggling to know where to start. I would not normally be limited to 20 minutes to do an assessment of a child I am completely unfamiliar with and with no time to talk to their class teacher etc. regarding concerns. The job role is not classroom based and mainly for working with SpLD, SEN and providing strategies to the classroom staff.

    Any suggestions would be gratefully received.
  2. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    FIrst of all, if you have worked for 9 years as a TA the chances are you have come across all sorts of different needs in the classroom, so don't panic!

    A twenty minute session is surely just a first impressions sort of thing. Unless you are a SENCO you shouldn't be diagnosing, just noting obvious difficulties and immediate responses from yourself..observing, I suppose.

    FOr want of any other information, as you have no idea what issues your child might have (unless it is a specialist school in which case that should give you lots of clues) start where you would with any human being.

    Say hello, and ask the child how they are, and introduce yourself.

    What are your immediate impressions?
    Any obvious physical difficulties?
    Does the child respond to you?
    Does she make eye contact?
    Can they understand what you have said and respond in clear English?

    Ask them the questions you would normally ask any student to find out more about themselves.
    What is your name?
    How old are you?
    Which class are you in? Have you been in this school for a long time?
    Do you like school? What is your favourite subject? (Which could lead on to what is your least favourite subject,and why)
    Are there any things in school that you think that you could do with a bit more help with?
    What do you like to do when you are at home?

    Develop any questions that the child is happy to talk about.

    You are looking out for
    physical difficulties
    communication difficulties
    speech and language difficulties
    attention/behavioural difficulties
    cognitive difficulties

    But in order to talk to parents etc you need to show that you care about the child and that comes from observing the child as a whole rather than sitting down and giving them tests. (The interviewers might want to know what you would do next, given longer with the child.

    I may be way off the mark here, and other people may have been asked to do other things, but that would be my take on it!
  3. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Hi samlong
    Congratulations on getting the interview! Good advice above - with 9 years under your belt, you will have lots of experience and will be able to form a 'first impression' of the child.
    This is not my area of expertise, but 20 minutes is quite a long time just to talk - I think I would have a bag of resources with me, which might help me - definitely a book which you could share, talk about the story and pictures and maybe get an idea of the child's reading skills; maybe a game - you can download 'emotions' board games, with 'what makes you happy/sad/angry questions. This could help you think about counting on skills as well as possible emotional issues.

    I'm sure others will have more suggestions, but best of luck - let us know how you get on.
    galerider123 likes this.
  4. denice304

    denice304 New commenter

    I agree with both of the above posts. It's worth going on their school website to find some background information about the school, their vision, ethos and values. Look on their early years section to see what they are covering in their topics this term and then choose a book or game relating to this for familiarity. Bare in mind there could be behaviour strategies as well as SEN or both. Go on line and scan 'Development matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Use the child's name when talking to them, smile and enjoy. Any question just ask.
    galerider123 likes this.
  5. samlong1101

    samlong1101 New commenter

    Thanks for the replies. Think i'm just panicking as it is just so vague. I was thinking of doing an 'All about me' activity to start with. Like / dislikes, age, what they find easy / hard etc. Get the childs point of view. Then I was thinking of a Roald Dahl book or similar level (assuming it is year 3/4, age 7 - 9 ). Reading a section to the child and encouraging them to join in (paired reading) to see how they cope with the level, discuss the book, comprehension questions. I was then thinking of possibly some kind of predict and write what you think will happen next. That way i could see sentence structure, letter formation, spelling choices, vocab, fine motor skills etc. I'm not sure if I should try to incorporate some kind of maths activity? Possibly take a quick maths type game incase i have time to fill. It would also help with assessing turn taking and social skills? I'm not sure if this is all abit 'dull'. I'd like the child to be relaxed and enjoy the activities of course.

    As for feedback i was thinking of explaining that I would like to collect more information before saying any specific area,. Discussing it with the class teacher, TA, SENCo and gathering their valuable knowledge of the child. Noting anything obvious. Then under the direct of the class teacher / SENCo arrange to meet with parents to gather their views.
    I have been on the website and got both the job description and person specification. The majority is based on interventions for children with SpLD. It is a church school and they have a big emphasis on each child being unique.

    I have working in all year groups from FS2 to yr 6 so I have an idea of expectations. I currently work as SENCo assistant wittin my TA role, but it is a much smaller school.

    Any book suggestion, greatly appreciated.
    Thanks again.
    galerider123 likes this.
  6. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    It sounds like they'd be lucky to get you! DId you go yet? How did you get on, if so?
    If you haven't been yet, I think I would have a main book and a few other ones tucked into my bag as well (probably one of lower level, a picture book and a non fiction book).
  7. samlong1101

    samlong1101 New commenter

    I was shown to a room and told to set it up as i wanted. They then came back a couple of minutes later with a year 5 child. Nothing obvious to note. After a quick intro, I played two truths and a lie to get to know the child. Discussing likes and dislikes. What subjects she find difficult/ easy etc. I then had a short text which we read together (paired reading). I asked her to read the second part on her own. Then we did comprehension questions and I asked her to record her answers. I noted things about her pencil grip, spelling choices, good verbal understanding, etc. Then we played a quick maths game. Roll two dice and put the digits together and fill in the missing numbers. No issues with place value or reading numbers etc. Then asked to pack away and straight into formal interview. I mentioned what i had picked up on which suggested some dyslexic tendencies but I said that I would discuss with the teacher and SENCo to see what they had concerns and do further assessment to rule out other possible difficulties such as dyspraxia. Before arranging a suitable time to discuss any concerns the parents may have. A lot of questions in the formal interview.
    Unfortunately I didn't get it. :(
    galerider123 likes this.
  8. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Sorry to hear that you weren't successful (this time!), but it sounds as if you did pretty well and covered everything you could in your time with the child. Don't get too down about it - competition is fierce and there will be a job with your name on out there. It could be useful to ask for feedback from the Head, might help you when the next interview comes up! Good luck.
    galerider123 likes this.
  9. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Your interview task sounds more like something i would expect for the role of SENCO, not a HLTA or senior TA role.

    Maybe i am mistaken. I'm not a fan of this 10/20 minute tasks where you know nothing about the child, and expected to perform miracles.
    galerider123 likes this.
  10. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    What on earth does a 'senior advanced' teaching assistant do?
  11. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    My thoughts exactly!! We already have HLTA as a recognised role so this will be interesting.
    galerider123 likes this.
  12. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    Pomz. could you start a new thread with that question, perhaps someone knows!

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