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Handy hints

Classroom assistants

A good classroomassistant is a skilledpara-professional, despite the low pay. Working in an effective partnership with your CA presents a challenge which is rarely acknowledged in teacher training.

* Have regular planning meetings with your classroom assistant. Encourage ideas, but stay in the driving seat when decisions are made. You will reap the benefit of his or her experience, and instil a sense of being valued.

* Quickly clarify each morning what your CA isto do that day. Once work has started, you won't have time.

* If the CA is on - or has been on - a training coure, find out what it consists of. Give proper support and make use of the person's knowledge and skills.

* Be alert also to the CA's personal skills - music, storytelling, art. Build them into the planning.

* The classroom assistant's relationship with the class is different from yours, and in some ways closer. Make use of this when you are finding ways to help timid or disruptive children.

* Don't be overawed by an experienced assistant who is already established in the class. Anyone who is good at the job will expect your leadership - so provide it.

Next week: when friends fall out

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