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How do you use your TA?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by milliebear1, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. I have had two fab TAs this year, who work really well with the children. I have had both taking out small groups of kids in my lower English set every week. The groups are always planned for by me, but the TAs have instruction on what aspects of the writing to focus on with the children. Obviously, I see and mark the work that comes back. They would take out about 6 or 7 children for a term/helf-term who all worked on the same focus, then they would take a different group the following term etc.
    Other staff at my school do not use TAs in this way at all, but instead, use them for classroom tasks such as filinf, photocopying, display work etc. I understand that all these tasks come within a TA's remit, but it seems such a waste for their duties to end there.
    So, how do you use yours? And even better - any TAs - what do you think?
     
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    A bit of both really.

    I definitely do not give a TA (however great, and mine is amazing!) a group for half a term. All children need teacher teaching and I'd (rightly) be lynched by parents and SLT if I handed over a group/child to a TA for half a term or more. I might be planning and marking, but if I'm not teaching them, then it isn't ok.

    My TA does have a group each lesson, but rotates round all the children in a week, as do I. She spends no more time with one group than any other, nor do I.

    Mine does do some displays and occasionally photocopying/laminating. But usually during register time, some inputs and some plenaries. This admin work is more an 'if there is time' kind of task. Mostly she is, like me, busy in lessons with children.
     
  3. Sorry, I should have been clearer. I teach the input part of the lessons, and the children go out afterwards with the TA. The groups are run on two days out of five - usually a grammar lesson and Big Write.
     
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Ohhhhhhh...makes more sense then.
     
  5. I like the idea of rotation around the groups. How does it work?
    I am thinking of doing a sort of carousel style teaching method for my lower maths next year. It would mean me teaching a group,while the TA worked with another, and another two (or three) groups working independently. Don't know if this is realistically doable though.
     
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    That's what I've done in year 5/6 and year 2, in both maths and English. Though in year 2, the independent work was practical and often play type work.

    Going to do similar in year 1 this coming year, though after teaching them how to use the independent activities first. So inititally a group at a table with me or TA, a group in a specific area with us leading the activity and the rest choosing. Hopefully just a couple of weeks or so to ensure all groups have been shown all areas and can then complete challenges, or play constructively without an adult. Then revert to two groups with adults.
     
  7. Is the bit in bold what happens in a single lesson? So, you would only teach a single group? Or do you move around the groups across the hour lesson? Are the two groups you are aiming for split by ability? I am thinking I will need more like four or five due to wide maths ability spread!

     
  8. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I had 4 ability groups in year 2, (at the end of the year, level 1/2c, level 2b, level 2a, level 3 more or less).

    A typical lesson, ours were about 1hr 15 mins long, looked more less like this:

    10 mins or so, Starter (for literacy this was phonics revise and teach)

    10 mins or so, Input

    15 mins or so, Group 1 and 2 with adults, 3 and 4 independent/choosing/playing.

    15 mins or so, Group 3 and 4 with adults, 1 and 2 independent/choosing/playing

    15 mins Plenary

    Groups with adults did tasks related to the input and LO for the lesson, independent groups sometimes did and sometimes not. Generally at least 2-3 times a week a group would be directed to do a phonics practise activity during independent time.

    You do need to be very slick and organised AND have a fabulous TA. I also have a loud timer on the IWB with a half way alarm and a couple of minutes warning time. As much for the adult groups as the independent ones.
     
  9. Our TAs aren't allowed to do photocopying any more as we have staff who operate the photocopier and laminator now. They are very protective of their machines and even changed their hours when they realised that most of us were beating the system by getting in early and doing our photocopying before school. I wouldn't mind but they make such a bad job of it! There are usually words chopped of where the page wasn't straight on the copier, or it's all too dark to be read.
    This has led to our TAs being unhappy as they like doing the odd bit of photocopying here and there, teachers feeling like they have their TA on their backs all the time, looking for other ways to get out of class for five minutes and a general feeling of unhappiness.
    My TA is lovely, with a good reputation in the school but I've found her to be pretty poor this year. The teacher she worked with for the last few years was scatty and disorganised so the TA was always busy finding things at the last minute and she loved it. This year I've kept her busy working with the children but she hasn't coped well. I'm not sure she actually enjoys the working with children side of the job! She's great in a one to one situation but any more than that is a disaster, with the children being shouted at and most of them getting things wrong. They don't enjoy working with her at all. Luckily for me, she will be working with someone else in September but I don't know whether to warn the new teacher or not.
     
  10. I am doing this next year as all the research says it works brilliantly with practice.
    Am currently reading this book which is really good- you might like it.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guided-Math-ebook/dp/B0054LNWLO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343216475&sr=8-1
    There are lots of blog posts out there too worth reading on using it in reality etc.

     
  11. DISS research found that TAs used in the way you describe have this effect:
    • Pupils tend to miss out on everyday teacher-to-pupil interactions
    • TA support is an ‘alternative’, not ‘additional’, to teacher input
    • TAs are given responsibility for pupil tasks and interventions
    • With TAs, pupils do differentiated or different tasks when away from the class, so spend less time in mainstream curriculum coverage
    •Teachers spent more time explaining concepts than TAs, and TAs’ explanations were sometimes inaccurate or confusing
    •Teachers used prompts and questions to encourage pupil thinking and check understanding, while TAs more frequently supplied pupils with answers and completed tasks for pupils
    •Teachers tended to use feedback to encourage learning, while TAs more often were concerned with task completion
    •Teachers, more than TAs, linked the current lesson to pupil prior knowledge, and attempted to promote pupil thinking and their cognitive engagement in a task
    •Teachers promoted pupil engagement and encouraged them to develop their own ideas far more often than TAs did
    The recommendation:
    • Pupils in most need should not be routinely supported by TAs
     
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  13. zugthebug

    zugthebug New commenter

    TAs are used to target specific needs. I only have TA support for an hour each morning, we have a class lesson literacy on Monday, we both have a target group Tuesday depending on the needs from the marking of Monday's work. Then Wednesday is specific intervention usually reading support while I teach another whole class lesson, Thursday is same as Tuesday and friday depends on the rest of the week. I don't have any other support and have chosen to use TA in literacy rather then maths as the classes needs were in that area. The rest of the morning is solo although if there is a need I use extra guided or individual reading support. If you have a good relationship with TA and they follow the planning then there is no issue in my opinion of them withdrawing groups. In fact if I could I would love to work intensively with six children for several weeks. My TA had a major impact on SEN group who started in Y6 with 2c in reading and were 3b by end of the year. I don't have the time to work everyday with one or two children in a focused way, wish I could but there are 30 others who also need my time
     
  14. I have for the past two years addtionally used my TA to help support assessment of children in the classroom. Each week in my school we have an hour dedicated to 'conferencing' a small group of children (no more than 6) who are working at a similar level. This gives me the teacher the opportunity to focus more specifically on targets identified for the group from the last APP cycle. Each week I see a different group and focus on targets specific to that group.
    In the week prior to my working with a group my TA will observe and give support to the group I will see the following week. She records progress against their individual targets and successes/areas of need for me. This not only gives me notes to help me plan their conference but also helps when completing the next cycle of APP as it is a closer more personalised observation to add to my own.
    It also helps to ensure that I don't become lazy myself and just do as many do, target the TA with the less able mon-fri, and instead allows the TA to work across the ability range,This also means the TA doesnt become bored or complacent as they are being challenged by different children with different needs all of the time.
    Additionally to this, my TA runs reading groups, a spelling group and a gifted and talented maths group all of which she does during the lunch-hour the children have. (Our Ta's have a 30 min break which I believe is the norm, allowing them to run such groups).
    Again, the reading groups deliberately focus on the group about to be conferenced the next week and again provide useful observations of the children reading in small groups. Obviuosly, we do whole class reading additionally to this most days as well.
    I never use TA to remove children from the room, I knwo some schools do this, but our school for one wouldnt have the space to do this, and also it isnt in our ethos to remove children from the classroom unless they are having SENCo support. We don't stream in our school and so all children remain in the classroom, receiving the same teaching and then completing differentiated tasks as suited to them. The TA therefore moves from one table to the next dependent on which group she is supporting that week. I always try and support a different group each day from the 4 remaining groups. This seems to work for me.
    As for the mundane clerical side, the photocopying, laminating, blah blah blah, I do this before or after school, during lunch/break or my TA does in hers. I do though, agree with other posters, that I dont use lesson time for this, and I see the use of TA's for this as a massive waste of time as well as their intellect.
     

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