Writing’s a bit isolating. So feeling the need to be involved with a world other than the back of my curtains I’ve been investigating going back into the classroom.
It was not an option before whilst the kids were at home full time. And I’m still not sure this is the place for me now having home educated for the last ten years and writing a book called ‘Learning Without School’. In fact I doubt a school would even consider me despite being passionate about education.
It was a Teaching Assistant’s job that caught my eye. After years out of the classroom I thought this might be a good way to reacquaint myself with institutional goings on.
I had stopped teaching before having children because of the political dung that was being shovelled into schools at the expense of the individual. Plus a feeling that children were being used as vote-winning pawns, but I was told I was being cynical.
I thought I was over all that but I could feel all my old political hackles rising just reading the job description, never mind the pay!
For a pittance, this is what was required.
As well as acting in accordance with school policies and procedures (i.e. Do what you’re told – I was never that good at that) a TA is expected to: – assist with planning and preparation of activities – help prepare the classroom – monitor children’s needs – keep records – promote development and learning – foster growth and independence – observe and record development – support specific needs – carry out daily tasks involving care, hygiene and first aid duties (which probably means cleaning up the sick) – liaise with parents and professionals – be creative.
In other words do much of what teachers do. And all this for little more than you’d get working in McDonalds. And TAs are often loaded with the responsibilities of the teachers anyway simply because at times needs must, but you get none of the respect. Not that the poor teachers get a lot anyway.
It makes you wonder why, for all that they’re expected to do, the TAs are not considered worthy of good pay. What does this say about the value we place on supporting teachers and education and our children? Do we value our children so little?
It seems to me they should pay the TAs what they pay the teachers. Pay the teachers what they pay the politicians. And pay the politicians what they pay the TAs and see how they manage.
For what it’s worth, teaching assistants have my humble respect and admiration for the work that’s dumped on them. Teachers have my respect too (the good ones, that is) for all they do and for all the hassle they have to put up with whilst they’re doing it. Politicians – respect? Not a lot!
As for me and the job…I might try McDonalds. It seems less daunting to worry about not poisoning the customers than to get back involved with educational politics.