I first started working as a TA 11 years ago. Prior to that I had only studied what was then known as the NNEB in childcare but had never thought of doing anything with such a qualification. However my TA journey began and my experience varied enormously from teacher to teacher. Some wanted me to use my initiative and go where the greatest need for me was; others were more prescriptive, some wanted me teaching, while some used me as an organiser & resourcer. In effect, all were needed but working in smaller groups and as a one-to-one gave me the best insights into learning itself. Observing everyday practice and organisation has benefitted me to some extent but that time spent with individual children has inspired me the most.
As a TA, I believed that working with smaller groups can develop relationships far quicker, so too did playground and lunchtime duties. Being with the children in contexts out of the classroom were just as rewarding. I was given equal authority in the classroom by teachers. This is so important as children immediately pick up on teacher and TA's interactions.
One day a poster appeared in the staffroom from Canterbury Christ Church University in partnership with Newham offering a foundation degree and a route into a teaching career. This was fully supported and funded by my school. Four years part-time seemed like a good idea. Over the four years I learned the theory behind the practice that I saw on a daily basis. I saw some excellent teaching and knew which teachers I wanted to be like; I stored up all their good ideas ready for the future. I enjoyed learning and believe that combining theory and practice over a number of years was a great way to consolidate what I was being taught
I am lucky enough to work in a very supportive school. The headteacher had a deeply embedded ethos for continued professional development (CPD). That meant I was included in the same training as the teachers. Over the years there has been a lot of changes within education and its use of qualified members of staff and their ability to teach within a classroom. As a result of this, I was given more autonomy to lead and teach my groups. I also did team teaching with some staff. Being so closely involved with actual teaching gave me an amazing insight into education. I was hooked.
I worked my way through periods of unqualified teaching cover (which was allowed then) to a higher level teaching assistant (HLTA) and then was able to train as a teacher through the graduate teacher programme (GTP) at my own school, which was great.
After completing my teacher training, I felt I had an advantage over other NQTs; I was familiar with the day-to-day running of a class, behaviour management and teaching demands, which can only be gained by experience within the classroom. If I had not been a TA, I probably would never have considered being a teacher, let alone understood the nature of the job.
After teaching for a couple of years, I decided it was time for a new challenge and decided to apply for a TLR (leadership responsibility) I started off on a subconment TLR 3 which was in the subject of PE. This led to moving on to a TLR 2a. To support my transition into leadership I started off as a co leader where I had opportunities to shadow subject leaders and start to develop whole school leadership skills. Alongside shadowing the school provided opportunities for in house training and external training to develop as a leader and to gain specific subject knowledge. I am currently the RE coordinator and feel as if I have come full circle, whereby I am now leading the subject that started off my teaching career as a PPA teacher alongside doing my degree. Teaching is the best career decision I have made.