Since today was national Teaching Assistant day in the UK – I thought I’d share some experiences that most fellow TA’s can probably relate to! And most parents and teachers alike come to think of it!
Children love to hug spontaneously. This is beautiful (apart from when they are covered in paint/glue/snot!)
Children can consume an alarming amount of bogies. It amazes me how they manage to conserve any room in their teeny weeny tummies for actual meals.
Most TA’s will have experienced the painful moment when a child suddenly, and unsuspectingly, vacates their seat at the precise moment you walk passed their chair. Cue rigid, midget furniture plunging deep into soft fatty thigh tissue. Ouch.
Which leads me nicely onto UCIB’s (Unidentified Child Inflicted Bruises). These are usually caused by children bashing you with their chair/ruler/shoe/cricket bat. It isn’t intentional…at least…I don’t think it is?! Children are also in the habit of standing on your foot/leg/chest/head if you happen to be in their way. To put it simply, children will try to walk through you instead of around you if you come between them and their toys.
If you thought you were good at Maths, you haven’t worked in a 21st century Primary School. Children aged six and seven these days are not adding single digits and reciting their three times tables – no!!! They are performing long division, fractions, algebra, adding and subtracting with decimal places – they even know every single times table including their twelve’s!!! And they know them without the need for funny rhymes or mad methods of remembering!!!! They just know (Don’t ask me how – but they do.) That’s why during Maths, it pays to use the phrase ‘Why don’t you share how you arrived at that answer with the rest of the class? Y’know, so that we can celebrate that strangely advanced ninja robot brain of yours (and so that I can quickly grab a calculator to check the answer, of course?!)’
Children are mini mistake correctors. If you say something wrong/spell something incorrect on the board/call somebody by the wrong name – they will immediately and simultaneously proceed to point out your error in a very loud and intimidating way. (Think thirty laughing pointing spell checkers yelling at you from your computer screen – minus the annoying red squiggle.)
You often hear yourself saying the words ‘you should try to go to the toilet during break times and not during lesson times!’ Despite saying this – you let the child go pee. Partly because you don’t want to clean up the mess afterwards, but also because you yourself have ducked out of the classroom at least twice in the last hour to empty your over-caffeinated bladder; and you now feel like a bit of a hypocrite.
People often comment on how wonderful it must be to have all those holidays and to get paid for colouring in and cutting out. Although it’s hard to resist, I would advise strongly against committing any acts of crime against these people (it will show up on your police check and you’re likely to be out of a job as a result.) Besides, it’s not their fault. They either don’t have children; hire a nanny; or are just of the view that all Teaching Assistants do is make paper dolls and sing nursery rhymes. Believe me – there is a reason why we have all those holidays!!!
Which leads me onto my next point. If you didn’t drink alcohol before you became employed in a school – there is a
90% chance that you do now. If drinking at 3:30pm on a Friday was once unheard of – it has now become the norm for you and most of your friends (who by the way, also happen to be Teaching Assistants and Teachers.)
Despite working shorter hours then most – you fall out of the doors feeling like you have been inside a washing machine on full spin. Yet with the random madness and unpredictability of the life of a TA; the pulls and the demands of the national curriculum; and the amount of clothes that you have had to throw out due to ‘spillages’ – there comes a responsibility and an emotional reward that far exceeds most other jobs you have experienced – and it is that which makes it all totally worthwhile 🙂