Teaching assistants and support for literacy and language development

Cable, C.; Eyres, I. and Hancock, R. (2006). Teaching assistants and support for literacy and language development. In: BERA Annual Conference, 06-09 Sep 2006, University of Warwick.

URL: http://www.bera.ac.uk/files/2010/04/BERA2006-Progr...


Through an examination of writing done by teaching assistants for an Open University course, this paper examines assistants’ perceptions of their role in children’s learning within the context of the Literacy Hour. There is an analysis of three themes arising from the data i.e. assistants’ practice aimed at increasing children’s participation; assistants’ pedagogic and subject knowledge; and the nature of assistants’ team working with teachers. The data suggests that teaching assistants are very involved in working with the most vulnerable and ‘difficult to teach’ children and that they use a range of intermediary techniques and pedagogic strategies to enable these children to participate in the Literacy Hour. The data lends support to the official view of the role of teaching assistants i.e. that, guided by teachers, they ‘enable the teacher to teach’ and ‘support children’s learning’. However, the data also suggests that teaching assistants teach too, sometimes with a degree of independence. Indeed, the variety (and in some cases sophistication) of ways in which teaching points are developed by them with children appears to signify a clear pedagogic role in terms of extending children’s knowledge of literacy.

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