Lessons to be learnt – How much trust should we give EAL TAs?

Lessons to be learnt How much trust do we give EAL TAs?

After observing some planning and teacher training in London last week the following occurred to me not as way of criticism but more as reflective practice and moving learning in the classroom along.

Clearly we should not give any teacher or TA (Teaching Assistant) 100% trust until we have assured ourselves that they are giving 100% correct instruction. As no teacher is a super teacher i.e.  never needing support, mentoring or guidance then why should we give EAL TAs (English as a second language Teaching Assistants) this trust and change policies to suit them?
Don’t  get me wrong I think TA’s and EAL TA’s in particular are great but we should not implicitly trust them to guide our youngsters in the ETHOS of the school, the teaching of academic concepts and language and assessment without having an overview of their abilities and skills ourselves as senior managers and governors.
I watched a situation recently where a group of excellent teachers were planning and talking about the use of technology available to support maths teaching. They were thinking really creatively about how they could teach in their classrooms (and not looking at a withdrawal group) a mathematical concept that the rest of the year were  learning. For me it was brilliant they were marrying their skills with technology to save time for them when planning and delivering, but increasing the children’s learning ability whilst making it interesting.

All went well until the TA that supports them became part of the discussion and within no time suddenly the TA had convinced them the group needed to be withdrawn and that it could take time for the children to learn it. What struck me most as an observer was that I had been in that situation many times but could see now that the TA  was steering our teaching. Today seeing it this way made me wonder what made these excellent practitioners take another persons word and run with it?

Why didn’t they question or try out their theory and review it if it didn’t work? They had built a translation requirement in, their practice was excellent, their topic was interesting, their own personal understanding of the concept was excellent and yet they let someone without the same or better credentials influence them and their decisions.

Something worth pondering on.