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What is like to be a TA?

To teach or not to teach; this was one of the many conundrums that swamped my mind in the aftermath of university. So, before deciding to take what I considered at that time to be a giant leap and join the brave men and women on the front line of education, I became a teaching assistant.

As a teaching assistant, I joined a year 4 class and provided administrative support to the teacher alongside academic and pastoral help to the students. It was a fantastic learning experience. I gained an insight into the great amount of time, effort and work that goes into being a primary school teacher. This involved preparing comprehensive and engaging lesson plans as well as differentiating topics for a wide range of subjects to ensure students of all abilities could achieve their best. I even went from playing the role of judge in deciding the best art to go on display each term, to giving the Spielberg and Nolans of the world a run for their money by directing the yearly class play. I continue to salute teachers to this very day.

Most significantly, I learned what it would be like to work with children on a daily basis. I experienced the reward from supporting students, who at the beginning of their year 4 journeys, struggled to understand the difference between simple, complex and compound sentences and were by the summer confidently writing highly imaginative stories filled with all three.  I discovered the never-ending tunnel of fun and frustration in managing the daily social politics of the playground (and that hopscotch was so 1990s). I found constant joy in building successful rapports with students, having them entertain and confide in me.

Working as a teaching assistant was indeed a whirlwind experience filled with highs and lows, and it will always be an experience that I will fondly remember.

Rianne Mclean

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