Training for Teaching Assistants to change a mindset

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Following my original article on the impORRtance of offering good training oppORRtunities for teaching assistants, our staff have participated in three sessions over the past few weeks.

Session one – SPaG

This session was very well received. It was fascinating to see how competitive some of the TAs were. Several had come armed with a glossary of terms and definitions which had stemmed from one TA finding a document she felt was useful and subsequently emailing it to all her colleagues. This was a great start to the session for me as it meant they really did want to learn for themselves and also to get it right for the kids. We were arranged in four small groups and because there weren’t any teachers present aside from myself, the atmosphere was relaxed, full of laughter but most of all, an environment in which the TAs felt comfORRtable and confident to ask any question. We played several games to gain a greater understanding of grammatical terminology and understanding how and when to use punctuation as well as teaching spelling and not simply learning words for spelling tests.

We did look at SPaG tests which was very well received and TAs commented how much it really made them think about things they do naturally. We had the debate about correct pronunciation as well as using correct terminology and not using over simplified kid speak that really undermined the whole philosophy of learning.

Conversation moved on to discuss the ‘grammar peeves’, which is something that is a non-negotiable for me. We discussed the need to speak correctly and use grammar correctly when modelling. The pet hates of there, their and they’re came out as well as to, two and too and explaining yous is not the plural of you.

We could laugh about many things even when TAs admitted they hadn’t realised certain things they were saying or writing were totally incORRect. It made for good banter because the TAs were at ease sharing their mistakes and inaccuracies with each other and weren’t embarrassed by it. They asked questions to seek clarification and were comfORRtable saying when they simply hadn’t a clue.

Session too focused on reading and the fact that reading is taught and not caught. It was interesting how many TAs said a lot of their time supporting reading is simply hearing a child 1:1 and they didn’t feel they were having as great an impact doing that. We shared ideas for good practice in teaching reading and looked at videos of guided reading and effective questioning.

The third session focused on writing and in particular, talk for writing. A lot of time was spent developing a writing toolkit for supporting children in improving writing through Pie Corbett’s model.

I’ve blogged about that here…… highheelsandhighnotes.wordpres…

We created an area on the staff server for resources linked to each training session sharing the videos, handouts and interactive activities that would be adapted for differing needs from nursery to Y6.

The feedback from staff made it so worthwhile. Overwhelming!

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