Tales from new teachers

The old switcheroo

The problem

I have spent the past couple of years working in one school, but in an ever-changing role. I initially assisted with a school club, then ran the holiday club as a "play leader". Next I was a special needs assistant, before becoming a teaching assistant (TA). I am now training to be a teacher in addition to my position as a TA.

The experience is not unlike other teacher training routes - the main difference is that I build the course requirements around my current role to develop and deepen my existing knowledge.

One of the biggest challenges has been switching from TA to teacher. I feel like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde: one moment I am at the back of the room, almost invisible, enabling the smooth running of the class; the next I am delivering to my own planning and directing the teacher I usually assist (who has now become the TA). If I am confused, imagine how the children must feel. How can we offer security and consistency to the pupils?

The options

From the outset, when setting the rules and expectations of the classroom, the teacher stated that we would be swapping roles from time to time and that the students were to respect us in both guises. The children seem to have adapted well: I have now been given sole responsibility for planning certain lessons, which the pupils expect me to teach. If I have not been teaching for a while, they ask me when I will be back - they seem to look forward to my appearance at the front of the classroom, which is a great confidence boost for me.

I count myself particularly lucky that the teacher I work with is a fantastic listener. She is very good at picking up techniques I have developed that differ from hers and she builds these into her regime - consistency in little details really brings the lessons together.

The result

As a by-product of this structure, the children have gained huge understanding of and respect for the roles of the TA and the teacher. Coming from a support background, I am able to understand and predict the needs and stresses of my TA - this element of their training is challenging for some newly qualified teachers.

I know that the next few months will be some of the most difficult I will ever face, despite having been to university and working for half my life already. That said, I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. I love going in to work with my class every day.

The writer is a trainee teacher in the South East of England

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