Important role of teacher aides

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A COLLEAGUE told me recently that they had sent two Christmas gifts to school at the end of last year.

One was for their child’s classroom teacher, the other was for the teacher aide, Mrs

R. At the end of the day, my colleague’s child came home and mentioned how surprised Mrs R was when presented with a gift.

The next day, Mrs R approached my colleague when she was picking her child up from school to thank her for that small act of kindness and appreciation. Hearing that story reinforced how important the role of teacher aides are in today’s learning spaces as they support the demanding and complex work of teachers. While teacher aides do not have the same level of qualification, training and experience as teachers, they are valuable assets to teachers and learners.

When schools utilise teacher aides effectively, they can free up the administrative workload so that teachers are able to work with the most vulnerable students in the class.

Having the presence of another adult in the classroom also means that the teacher aides are able to work with small groups of learners to practise skills, particularly social skills like sharing and listening. Teacher aides also manage structured learning activities that help students to consolidate new ideas and concepts.

All of this contributes to learners staying on task and ensuring that classrooms operate most effectively.

That experience of being able to work alongside accomplished teachers while developing a great rapport with students is a powerful one. In fact, some teacher aides go on to become qualified teachers themselves.

I know the school year has only just begun but when Christmas rolls around again and you’re thinking about acknowledging the work of your child’s teacher, remember that many hands (in the learning space) make light (teachers’) work.

Greg Whitby is the executive director of schools for the

Catholic Diocese of Parramatta

‘‘ Teacher aides also manage structured learning activities that help students to consolidate new ideas.