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Meet the presenter

Hi, I’m Alice. I’m one of the people who got teacher aide support at school. I have a degree in education, and I hope to be a teacher one day. I have worked as a volunteer teacher aide in several schools. I’m also a competitive sailor and a sea scout leader.
Module01 Meet The Presenter

M1 Teachers and teacher aides - who does what?

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Teacher and teacher aide roles and responsibilities

Why is this important?

Research carried out in New Zealand and internationally shows that teacher aides are often unsure about their roles and that many teachers are unsure about their roles in relation to teacher aides (Rutherford, 2008; Thomas, 2004; Ward, 2011). Teachers and Teacher Aides Working Together has been designed to provide best practice advice for schools to guide effective working partnerships between teachers and teacher aides. 

Being clear about who does what

Being clear about what’s expected of you at work is fundamental to doing a good job, so it makes sense for teachers and teacher aides working together to clarify their roles and responsibilities. You could talk to a senior member of staff if you need help clarifying your role or responsibilities. If your school has a learning support coordinator (SENCo), you could talk to them.

The work of teachers and teacher aides is strengthened when they understand each other’s roles and responsibilities and respect the knowledge and experience each person brings to the team. Teacher aides often have a number of roles and some work with a number of staff and students. It’s important that each role or responsibility is clarified and processes are identified so that everyone knows what’s expected of them. 

Supporting teacher aides

It’s important for schools to identify the key person (or people) supervising and guiding each teacher aide. This ensures that the teacher aide knows where to go for support or information if they’re unclear about their work.

In secondary schools, teacher aides work with more than one teacher across a variety of subjects. It’s important to establish who the teacher aides will communicate with and be responsible to for each area. Often the head of learning support or the learning support coordinator will take on this role.

Like all staff, teacher aides benefit from being familiar with school policies and documents that clarify their roles and responsibilities and explain the procedures for getting support if they need it.

Defining the roles

Teachers bear full responsibility for the learning and behaviour of all the students in their classes. They are responsible for planning, implementation and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of learning.

The main role of a teacher aide is to support the teacher. Teacher aides work within the classroom programme. They are not employed as ‘helpers’ for individual students. 

Teacher aides work alongside the classroom teacher and with the teacher's supervision and guidance. 

Supporting teachers

When a teacher is allocated teacher aide time, their planning should include information about how this time will be used. While it’s up to teachers to decide on the best way to support the diverse needs of all their students, some may require support from school management to understand their roles and responsibilities when working with teacher aides, especially if they haven’t had a teacher aide in their classroom before.

The teacher aide should be given clear support and guidance for their day-to-day tasks and duties. The plan for a teacher aide’s work should be based on the classroom programme.

Getting together

The teacher and teacher aide should have regular discussions and meetings to give each other feedback about the planning and responsibilities in the classroom. These meetings are an opportunity to clarify the teacher’s expectations about what the teacher aide does, when they will do it and with whom. Meetings should take place within teacher aides' working hours, perhaps after school or at interval. Emails and written notes between staff can also help to support clear communication.