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Teachers and experienced TAs - interview help please!(30 Posts)
I'm hoping to become a TA and have started applying for jobs. I had an interview last week which didn't go all that well and I've got another one coming up in another couple of weeks, and I'm really in need of a bit of advice!
I've been volunteering for a while in a local primary school, (and worked with SEN children in a different context), and my lack of actual TA experience doesn't seem to be preventing me from getting interviews, but in the last one I felt that they were expecting different answers from the ones that I gave, iyswim! I wonder if I could pick people's brains a bit?
As a teacher what would you really be looking for from a TA whose role would partly involve working with individual children and small groups who have special educational and additional needs?
Also, there were a lot of questions at the last interview about recording achievements and progress, which I got the impression I didn't answer very well... any suggestions?
Any advice at all greatly appreciated!
Sorry I didn't want to leave you unanswered but it is kind of hard to know what you are asking.
What do I want from a TA?
Good communication- knows what to feedback to me and when. Can understand and follow instructions. Can use own initiative and see what needs doing. Has good relationships with the children. Supports behaviour management strategies.
Recording achievements and progress?
Able to understand what the children need to do to be able to show success or progress but also being able to pinpoint where they are getting stuck. Able to use other strategies to support this. Can communicate this to the teacher. Can also keep own appropriate records for interventions to record progress and inform next steps.
I'm sure others could add more. Can you ask advice from someone on SLT in the school you are volunteering at? I don't think a little bit of time is a lot to ask in return for the free help you've been giving them.
Thanks for your reply, deary. I guess the truth is that I'm not 100% sure what I'm asking as well, just that I got the impression that my answers didn't quite hit the mark at the last interview.
It's interesting that you would expect a TA to keep their own records of progress etc - I hadn't thought of that, just assumed that records would be kept by the class teacher. Thanks for that info - its very useful.
Can you remember any of the specific questions so we can try and help you answer them?
They asked how I would go about recording progress and feeding back to the teacher, and also how I would encourage SEN pupils to interact with others and develop their self-esteem and independence.
I talked about giving plenty of verbal feedback ( which is what seems to happen at the school I'm helping at) but I think they were looking for more than that.
Recording progress - why not think about things like post it notes or communication books. Lots of TAs I've worked with will write feedback on a post it note - 'C segmented words well today but still needs more practice to blend CCVC words. CVC words fine' as an example. So then the teacher know to target something or can add it to their assessment evidence for the child.
A good phrase in an interview situation is always something like 'I would follow the school's assessment policy and ensure the feedback I gave was consistent with its aims.' Then give examples.
My current TA is the best I've ever had.
The qualities that make me say this are extensive, and most of them are natural abilities but I'll try to narrow it down.
She is able to think for herself. All too many TAs are so dependent on the teacher but I feel like she knows what I'm going to say next before I say it. It's fantastic and a breath of fresh air.
She has a natural, kind, caring yet firm manner with the children who all adore her but know she means business, so don't play her up.
Her spelling, grammar, maths skills etc are spot on, so I don't have to check what she's marked or written. This is life changing if you've ever had to spend hours going back over poorly written observations or corrections that are still incorrect.
She's fun, has a great sense of humour, isn't phased by anything, goes along with my mad ideas, works extremely hard alongside me, gives me input on planning and feedback on lessons, does her own tracking and measuring and is just all round fantastic.
Thanks tea and cope - that's really helpful.
Could I ask you, cope, what exactly you mean by her own tracking and measuring? What does she do?
Sorry for going on and on but this is so useful!
If she's working with a group, she will use our RAB tracking for each child she's worked with. She'll update INCERTS, take evidence photographs and upload them to our system with a comment, use AFL and marking schemes on work/in books and provide verbal feedback.
If you have lesson plans annotate any feedback for groups/indivdual eg X needed support to complete xyz.
Use school marking scheme if there is one. I am allowed to mark work so may add comment or a next step to complete. This may be due to needing more evidence of understanding to meet learning objective or to extend learning if LO met.
I think it’s important, as a previous poster said, to mention school’s policies that you would refer to eg ... according to x policy. Also I was asked what most affected learning and they liked my ‘attendance’ response. Also with child protection, make sure you always say you will report to CPO immediately.
With regards to previous interview you can ask for feedback to see where you need to elaborate. Good luck.
RAG Tracking - Red/Amber/Green tracking. It's just basically a sheet with every child's name on it for every lesson and activity that they do. Whoever is working with them marks each child as R, A or G and leaves a comment if support is necessary. Teacher can then at a glance see who needs support and why and can target those children.
Make sure you mention adhering to the behaviour policy. Also indicate you understand about giving each child an equal opportunity to access the curriculum. Child protection stuff very important, read the policy in each school you interview at. I always say I am energetic they seem to like that one!
You might get quite a different set of questions at your next interview- I didn’t get asked much along those lines when I interviewed to be a TA, I gave more answers around differentiated questioning and scaffolding. There actually an interesting study that more TAs in a school is associated with worse academic outcomes for kids - because TAs can stifle independent learning and socially isolate kids they work a lot with, can give answers too readily etc and over help - tell them you are not going to do these things! I find the delicate part of being a TA is knowing when not to get involved
As an ex TA but also a parent of a child with Sen I massively agree with Pingu.
Dcs TA was amazing with dc and dc loved her but she failed massively in a way because they became too reliant on her. They were unable to work independently or begin work without her help as they had never been given the skills to do so.
So talk lots about providing appropriate support whilst also fostering independence and skills to challenge tasks alone.
Talk about how you will differentiate for different needs,i.e the child with sight or hearing problems at the front or a child who might be easily distracted in a position where there aren't as many distractions.
I left notes in for the teacher similar to above. I. E John was able to read the book mostly with fluency however did stumble on x, y, z.
Remember you may be taking groups for support out of the classroom without the teacher so you will need to feed back.
Thanks both - good points about stifling independent learning. I hadn't really thought of that!
What do you mean by "scaffolding" Pingu?
Scaffolding is a bit vague but it’s the idea that you give children a ‘scaffold’ to do the task - so it’s not just telling them the answer but giving them appropriate steps and assistance so they can do it themselves. An example off the top of my head might be if kids have a word problem in maths and they ‘don’t get it’, maybe it’s too dense and they can’t read very well, you can say, well what’s the important thing you need to look for.... yes the numbers, what do you have to do with the numbers? Ok how do you know you need to subtract?... Yes because it says ‘what’s the difference’ you’re right - ok well you can do that now and see if you can get the answer. That sort of thing!
Tbh that example is more about questioning which is also important- teachers usually scaffold in their planning, as in they don’t just chuck a load of equations at kids and expect them to be able to work them out, they give them the right steps for them to approach the questions.
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