In accordance to the ethical guidelines written by The British Education Research Association (BERA, 2004), the names of the children and school, where used, have been changed in order to maintain confidentiality and anonymity. My role (Hancock et al. , 2013 p1) States that “the practice of learning support as carried out by teaching assistants has developed considerably in recent times”. In the nursery I work along side two higher level teaching assistants and the nursery teacher.
At this stage of school life, the majority of learning is through play, so we encourage the use of structured, well thought out fun educational games and play either in small groups or on a one to one basis, I carry out structured activities i. e. drawing, writing, crafting and reading, either on a one to one basis or with a small group of usually 4-6 children. I help identify any child or children that may benefit from further one to one help, through keeping well informed observation notes (KU1.
1) (KS3. 1) (PPS4. 3) In my role as classroom assistant in year one, my role is very similar to that of the classroom assistant, Margaret Verrecchie, in reader book 1 (Hancock et al. , 2013, pg4) A classroom assistant) I work along side the teacher and one teaching assistant. I help the teacher in the classroom, prepare resources’ for the session and offer the children extra support with reading and writing, it depends on what the teacher wants and needs and on what she asks me to do.
Each day is different, and my duties vary accordingly. (PPS4. 3) (KS3. 1) As a midday supervisor, I work along side 10 other midday supervisors, supervising the children in the dining area and other parts of the school during the lunch time break. I help the children with a variety of tasks such as cutting up food, unwrapping of pack lunches and help teach good eating habits, After the children finish eating, we go to the playground, or if it’s wet play, a classroom, where I supervise the children at play.
I ensure pupils keep out of areas that are out of bounds, deal with misbehaviour, reporting any problems that I’m unable to resolve to my duty manager, I attend to all pupils who are sick or injured, ensuring they receive the appropriate medical attention, reporting all accidents in the accident report book, I am aware of my responsibilities under the child protection legislation, reporting any concerns I may have to my senior supervisor or child protection officer.
I enjoy this role as it allows me to see the children in a more relaxed environment, giving me the invaluable opportunity to get to know the children, on a more personal level, getting to know their personalities outside of the classroom. As lunchtimes are a great opportunity for the children to burn of f some steam, I try to encourage the children to take part in lots of physical activities like skipping and hoopla hoops. (PPS4. 3)
I can personally relate to the parent helper in the (The Open University, 2013) E111 DVD sequence –Pam Crawford is a parent helper with a son who is special needs statemented, In the sequence, Pam states that she originally started to volunteer mainly to support her son, but along the way she decided that being a teaching assistant was what she wanted to be, so started a college course to train to become a qualified teaching assistant, which is exactly the same as why I am doing this course. Framework
I provide a varied and broad array of duties and tasks on a daily basis in support to the pupils, the teacher, the school and the curriculum, through performing activities on a one to one basis or as part of a team with my work colleagues. Although they do tend to regularly overlap each other, I offer the four levels of support as suggested in the DfEE framework. (PPS4. 3) To support the pupils I encourage them to act independently in an appropriate way, to interact with each other and engage enthusiastically in all the classroom activities.
I try to establish a good relationship with all the pupils, acting as a good role model, being aware of and responding appropriately to all individual needs. I supervise and support all the pupils ensuring their safety and make sure they have access to learning at all times. I help them to develop their skills in listening, to express their feelings and ideas, help them to understand, describe, select and retrieve information, show them ways in which to help with problem solving, communication etc. I also attend to all pupils’ personal needs including social, health, physical, hygiene, minor first aid and general well being.
To help support the teacher, I prepare the classroom as and when needed for the lessons then clear everything away at the end of the lesson. I also help display pupils work around the classroom; I keep records as and when asked to do so by the teacher. I also support the teacher by managing pupil behaviour, reporting all difficulties appropriately, to the relevant member of staff. I also gather and report and information to and from parents or careers at the end of the school day and I provide administration duties as and when the teacher requires.
To support the school I participate in any training and learning activities and any performance development meetings as and when required, I contribute to the overall ethos of the school, I am aware of and support difference and ensure all pupils have equal access to opportunities to learn and discover and to be aware of and comply with policies and procedures relating to child protection, health, safety and security, confidentiality and data protection, reporting all concerns to an appropriate person.
To help support the curriculum I help prepare and maintain equipment/resources as directed by the teacher and assist the pupils in their use, also supporting the pupils in using basic ICT as directed by the teacher. I support the pupils in respect to national and local learning strategies e. g. literacy, numeracy, early years as directed by the teacher and help pupils understands instructions that have been given by the teacher. Previous interests and experiences
I enjoyed school and took part in lots of school activities like the school productions and the school summer floats at carnival time, I also learnt to play the flute which gained me a place in the school orchestra. I was confident and never had problems making friends, although I did struggle with my school work, but I never let it beat me, I always strived to do my best. I have always been able to take the initiative and have a positive and adaptable personality. I find it easy to fit in with my surroundings and work well as part of a team or on my own. Since leaving school, I’ve worked for various companies, big and small.
I’ve been a company administrator for a large company, which built up my confidence working as part of a team which encouraged me to be more efficient with my time as I had to work to strict deadlines, gaining knowledge on company policies and procedures and improving my ICT, and communication skills. I was also a care worker for a care agency where confidentiality was paramount; I went to client’s homes to perform various duties from personal care to shopping and housework. It’s through this job that I learnt skills to encourage people to be independent and carry out simple instructions/tasks.
It’s also through this job that I learnt the importance of confidentiality and to keep completely accurate, up to date client observational records. I have three children of my own now and the experiences gained from being a mother, on top of the experiences gained from previous employment and my current employment, has enabled me to make the clear decision that I would like to pursue a career as a teaching assistant as I feel that the skills I’ve gained through life are all relevant to a teaching assistant’s role and skills that I have acquired for life.
Key theories and concepts Both Piaget and Vygotsky were instrumental in forming a scientific approach on cognitive development in children. Jean Piaget was one of the first psychologists to reveal that children reason and think differently at different periods in their lives. Piaget considered development went through four stages: Sensori-motor: Pre-Operational: Concrete Operational and the formal Operational stage.
The Sensori-motor period (0-2 yrs) is the first stage, as the infants interactions are based on exploring their environment through their senses and abilities, such as grasping and sucking, this also includes practice play as the infant is able to repeat actions continually, but with no intention. The pre-Operational stage (2-7 yrs) is where children’s language is rapidly developed, allowing them to express themselves. They start to use pretend play and parallel play which means children are talking but it is not directed at anyone in particular.
The Concrete operation (7-11 yrs) and Formal Operational (11-adult) periods are the third and fourth stages. These are not usually considered in early childhood education but they are still equally important as they are able to think realistically and logically about situations and understand their world (Pulaski. 1980) Vygotsky believes children’s learning of new cognitive skills is guided by an adult or a more skilled child, such as an older sibling, who structures the child’s learning experience, a process Vygotsky called scaffolding.
To create an appropriate scaffold, the adult must gain and keep the child’s attention, model the best strategy and adapt the whole process to the child’s developmental level. Vygotsky used this term to signify tasks that are too hard for the child to do alone, but can manage with guidance. Children do seem to follow a certain internal structure, for example grasping and touching, but not all children learn in the same way or at the same pace.
A classic example of Vygotskys scaffolding theory can be seen with my two sons, the youngest that at the time was in nappies wanted to use the big toilet like his big brother, so as suggested by Vygotsky, my eldest son used the scaffolding technique. Vygotskys ideas have important educational applications, like Piagets, Vygotskys theory suggest the importance of opportunities for active exploration. But assisted discovery would play a greater role in a Vygotskian classroom than in a Piagetian class: The teacher would provide the scaffolding for children’s discovery, through questions, demonstrations and explanations.
To be effective, the assisted discovery processes would have to be within the zone of proximal development of each child (Bee and Boyd, p38. (2009) Cognitive learning is not just internal but also external. Piaget believed that developmental growth was learned in stages. Vygotsky believed that learning was a social and progressive process that did not start or stop at a certain stage or age. A child’s activity plays a key role in the way they learn. I believe that both these theories go hand in hand and that the environmental factors do influence learning behaviours. Training needs
My overall aim is to become a qualified teaching assistant, for primary school aged children, which I will gain through completing this course and with the ongoing training I am receiving at work. I aim to develop a better understanding of the ways in which children learn and be more involved in the planning and preparation of lessons. Even though I am a valued member of staff, I still feel that I need to develop my relationships further with professional bodies. I feel I also need to develop my leadership skills further, in order for me to improve my effectiveness in leading pupils through a class activity.