Why We Need To Start Valuing Teaching Assistants

Chances are, if you’re on this site it’s because you feel overworked in your day to day role as a teacher.

But have you ever stopped to spare a thought for teaching assitants, without whom our jobs would be twice as hard?

Having spoken to countless teaching assistants around the country, espeically those who take the time to attend conferences, I’m left with a real sense of fear about just how disillusioned so many seem to feel with their role in the wider education system.

A lot of great assistants are in the position where they feel like they’re undervalued, underpaid and lacking the career progression that’s available to just about every single teacher.

And can you blame them?

I mean, isn’t it a valid concern?

When was the last time you heard of a teaching assistant being promoted in your school? It’s pretty rare, isn’t it?

So as teachers, what should we be doing to show our support for teaching assistants?

How can we make their lives easier, and show them we value and appreciate their roles in our schools?

Well, firstly, it’s important we remember why they’re in the job in the first place.

They’re not here to be millionaires. They’re not here to build a vast empire. They’re here because they genuinely care.

I mean, let’s take one of their responsibilites as an example.

You know as well as me that when there’s a challenging child in our class, the person ultimately called to deal with the problem (once we go through the formailty of getting headmasters etc involved) is ultimately teaching assistants, right?

So, faced with a task most people would be terrified to take on, what ends up happening?

Well, rather than complain as most teachers I know would, they deal with the situation and almost always yielded a genuine improvement in the childs academic performance and all round behaviour.

So knowing this – knowing that they thrive in positions where they can lend a helping hand…that they do the job to make a real impact in society, I say we should be showing more appreciation for their input.

We should be honouring our assistants.

We whould be giving them awards.

Why is there an annual teachers award but not an equivalent for teaching assitants?

At least, not at my school. Is there one at yours?

Last year one of the longest serving teaching assitants at my school resigned because she felt unappreciated.

It’s a very serious concern!

If every teacher reading this post today were to go to their heads and request an annual awards ceremony for teaching assistants, wouldn’t that go a long way to showing how much we care?

It might not be more money, it might not be a bigger house or a fancy car, but just the very act of acknowledgment is enough to show our trusted accomplaces that we have their backs.

As teachers, we support teaching assistants, not just vice versa!

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