Tomorrow is my teaching assistant meeting day; every half term I hold 3, half hour meetings with the majority of the teaching assistants. It’s a good opportunity to see them all, have a chat and do a brief training session. So far we’ve had a very brief look at topics such as the use of praise, dyslexia, dyspraxia and what a TA can do during an input. I do not claim that these sessions teach a complete topic – in fact most of them don’t even scratch the surface. What they do is to raise awareness.
Although the sessions are short we do always try to have a bit of discussion and something practical to do and some ideas that can be taken back into the classroom. Hopefully some of the ideas do make it back into the classroom and get tried, maybe some of the TA’s may even be interested enough to read a bit more about the topic. I enjoy doing these sessions as it gives me a chance to look into subjects that I should probably know lots about but as I look into them I discover I know a lot less than I imagined!
This is the equivalent of peer teaching in the classroom; I need to ensure I understand so that I can explain it to others. I should understand anyway but I am still fairly new to this role and there is an awful lot to learn. So by making sure I can talk to the TAs I’m improving my own knowledge too – a win-win situation.
Tomorrow’s meeting is on reading – asking questions about reading, what strategies the children are using, how to help the children improve their accuracy and comprehension skills… This is subject that you could spend several years rather than several minutes on! I’ve downloaded a couple of prompt sheets and adapted them from my own experience and to make them more relevant to our children.
I’d like to talk about lots of things – comprehension, inference, running records, processing speeds, fluency, expression but I won’t. I’ll find a quick, activity and share some of their good practice that I see every day, I’ll give out the reading conference prompt sheet and a question sheet and a bit like Old Mr Grace, tell them that they’re all doing very well!
They are doing very well but hopefully they will get at least one piece of useful information, possibly from each other rather than from me, and become even better. We all need to keep on learning and be prepared to adapt or add to our practice so that we can help the children even more. Hopefully if we enjoy learning the children will pick up on this and want to learn too.