If you’ve worked in a classroom environment as a teaching assistant and have always watched the teacher, wishing you were at the front of the class, then now is the time to take the plunge and make that move.
First things first, if you are serious about training up to become a teacher ensure your school knows – they might even offer to help. After all, you have more experience behind the scenes when it comes to working in a school, you know the ins and outs of the classroom and what is required to ensure a lesson runs smoothly.
Working as a teaching assistant first is a great way of understanding how things should be done. You might have worked alongside some poor teachers or members of staff who did not treat TAs with the respect they deserve (it happens), and can take these lessons with you. Talk to your Head; let them know what you are planning to do and they might even consider you for a future role within the school.
You also need to consider whether you want to work in primary or secondary school, if you’ve worked as a teaching assistant in a primary school making the transition to a secondary school will come as a shock. Know what you are getting into before making your decision.
With the teacher shortage worsening, especially in secondary schools where the number of teachers has fallen from 214,200 to 213,200, you should be able to find a place on a course that suits your needs.
There are numerous options when it comes to achieving NQT (newly qualified teacher) status: are you going to give up work completely to undertake a PGCE course if you already have a degree under your belt? Or do you need to take on a part time university degree before you can apply to study for your qualified teacher status?
Carefully consider the courses out there and ensure they work for you, it might seem like a good idea to hand in your notice and complete your qualification in four years but if you have children or are the only person supporting your household, then you need to ensure you have a means of income.
You could consider undertaking an online pgce, which would actually work well for those who have experience as a teaching assistant, simply because they are already accustomed to a classroom environment. This will also make things much easier when you are thrown into a classroom and asked to teach a lesson during your course.
Teaching assistants are also better equipped to take on extra qualifications that allow them to specialise in working with students with a disability or mental health issue. Teaching assistants usually work with these students one to one and so have first hand experience of how to ensure they get the most out of their learning.
Whatever route you decide upon know that you can use your extensive experience in a classroom environment over the years to your advantage, you know what it’s like to work with a troublesome child, a difficult teacher or even in a failing school, and how to turn things around, when you’re standing at the front of the class.
Teaching assistants are an undervalued resource within education but a teaching assistant turned teacher is something every school needs.
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