We want to be outstanding – we want to be dynamic and unlock the learning potential of every pupil we work with, we want to do it in a different way, a way that a child will remember forever and yes, remember us too.

Sometimes though, we must weigh up whether the learning objective really needed all that time and energy, resource-making and dynamism – did the outcome warrant the effort? Trying to be dynamic all the time can be exhausting and can also take you off task. We want our interventions to be exciting and imaginative but (and I say this from painful experience) it doesn’t always mean the learning objectives are met. What can help us achieve both?

Reflection is thinking about what happened and working out what might need to change next time. It might just be to remind yourself of the DISASTER of using papier mâché to support the learning of body parts (eek!) or that finger puppets can lead to black eyes and on-mass crying! But it’s also about determining whether objectives were met and what impact the intervention had. (Just to be clear – objectives were not met in those sessions!)

Reflection is also about finding the positives. Some days the positives (and there are always are some) can be lost in the detritus of the school day. We need to be mindful of when things have gone well and the factors that contributed to that success. Perhaps the creativity of the session was exciting and motivating for the children?

If your group achieves their learning objective in a meaningful and memorable way, then your session was a success.

Here are some ideas to try in your interventions:

👍 Prepare:

  • Have a clear objective for the activity
  • Chunk information
  • Scaffold answers
  • Provide visual support
  • Give pupils time (10 second rule)

👍 Record: how many times have you thought, “That’s a great idea?” or, “Next time I’ll do this?” Leave yourself a voice note – loads quicker than trying to write down what you mean.

👍 Talk and share: the staff room is a great place to discuss a tricky session with your colleagues. They will understand, will laugh (and cry) with you and will be able to call on their own experiences to help you move forward.

👍 Think ahead: if it went well – do it again, if it didn’t go so well, be kind to yourself, identify where it fell down and why, and think about a different approach for next time.

Whether you’re brand new to the TA game or are a seasoned pro, we all need to take the time to reflect and don’t forget – we won’t become great practitioners if we don’t have a few papier mâché stories to tell!

A more formal reflection tool for teaching assistants has been produced by the EEF which you may find useful here.

Get in touch and share how you reflect on your practice – we’d love to hear some of your stories (successful or not)!

Remember that for those of you who subscribe to Speech Link or Language Link, TAs are given access to a wealth of fully planned interventions including session plans, printable resources and tracking sheets which measure the impact of the sessions.

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