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Developing the scaffolding practices of teaching assistants: A continuing professional development model Dr Paula

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Presentation on theme: "Developing the scaffolding practices of teaching assistants: A continuing professional development model Dr Paula"— Presentation transcript:

1 Developing the scaffolding practices of teaching assistants: A continuing professional development model Dr Paula pedagogy.net

2 Background Numbers of TAs have risen dramatically in the past 15 years, now standing at around 190,000. National Workload agreement, 2003; TAs now have significant responsibility for learning and teaching; No consistent articulation in national policy of the pedagogical role of TAs; Support children at risk in the education system, often replacing teachers in relation to these pupils;

3 Background (cont.) This includes ‘wave 2’ literacy intervention sessions; Those who received the most support from TAs consistently make less progress than similar pupils who receive less TA support, even after controlling for factors like prior attainment and level of special educational needs (SEN) ; Lack of qualitative research into the moment- by-moment interactions between TAs and children. (Blatchford et al., 2012)

4 The study The Interactions of Teaching Assistants in Primary (ITAP) schools project took place between 2006 and 2012 (Bosanquet, 2012); Twenty-two video-recordings (involving 4 TAs and 8 groups of pupils), with an average length of 36 minutes; Consisted of small group literacy intervention sessions with 5-6 and 7-8 year-olds; Conversation analysis used as an analytic framework.

5 Key results of ITAP TAs are making in the moment pedagogical decisions (even when working with scripted materials (‘actual pedagogy’ – Seedhouse, 2010) Low level repair strategies (including correction) are commonly used by TAs; Pupils are over supported and over reliant on verbal and non-verbal cueing by TAs; Interactions focus on the task and end products rather than the learning experience;

6 Key results of ITAP Individual pupils often do not orient to the moments of discourse that have learning potential which are being explored with other pupils in the group. Opportunities for dialogic talk are routinely closed down. Similar interactional features were found by Radford, Blatchford and Webster (2011) in relation to in class mathematics support.

7 As a result There is serious potential for children to become overly reliant on one to one adult support because the interactional turn taking, repair and topic development practices do not support the development of self and peer assistance strategies and dialogic interaction; This is likely to contribute to reduced attainment over time relative to peers.

8 Improving interactions TAs need to understand and be able to support and develop a complex set of knowledge and skills: Specific literacy skills (subject knowledge); Specific scaffolding techniques (to provide expert scaffolding); Metacognitive awareness (to support and develop self-scaffolding); Interactional turn taking and interthinking (to support and develop reciprocal scaffolding); Links between pupils’ own experiences and the context of the instructional experience.

9 Implications for CPD for TAs Aside from good subject knowledge, TAs need to: Have a thorough understanding of the ‘scaffolding’ concept and ‘handover’ principle: –‘If the child succeeds, offer less help when next intervening. If he fails offer more help.’ (Wood and Middleton, 1975, p. 185); –set small goals in relation to the overall task then negotiate and renegotiate progress towards them (Rodgers, 2004; Tharp and Gallimore, 1988).

10 Implications for CPD for TAs Be introduced to and practise specific strategies for supporting conceptual and heuristic scaffolding; Be introduced to and practise specific strategies for supporting interthinking; Know how to liaise effectively with teachers about all of the above; Have the opportunity to observe and analyse their own moment-by-moment interactions.

11 A suggested CPD model Adults working with pupils need to experience effective scaffolding (Tharp and Gallimore, 1988); A four stage process, mirroring that outlined by Wood, Bruner and Ross (1976): 1.Engaging the TA in the process. 2.Interpreting discrepancies. 3.Confirmatory role. 4.Checking out. CPD leaders use the kind of assisting performance practices discussed by Tharp and Gallimore (1988) such as modelling, feedback, questioning and cognitive structuring; Use video data routinely collected by the TA during intervention sessions.

12 A suggested CPD model Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 New aspect of interaction

13 References Blatchford, P., Russell, A. and Webster, R. (2012). Reassessing the impact of teaching assistants: how research challenges practice and policy. London: Routledge. Bosanquet, P. (2012). Turn taking, repair and topic practices in teaching assistant led literacy intervention sessions. Unpublished PhD thesis. Radford, J., Blatchford, P. and Webster, R. (2011). 'Opening up and closing down: how teachers and TAs manage turn-taking, topic and repair in mathematics lessons'. Learning and Instruction, 21 (5), Rodgers, E. M. (2004). 'Interactions that scaffold reading performance'. Journal of Literacy Research, 36 (4), Seedhouse, P. (2010). 'Locusts, snowflakes and recasts: complexity theory and spoken interaction'. Classroom discourse, 1 (1), Tharp, R. and Gallimore, R. (1988). Rousing minds to life: teaching, learning, and schooling in social context. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wood, D., Bruner, J. S. and Ross, G. (1976). 'The role of tutoring in problem solving'. Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, 17, Wood, D. and Middleton, D. (1975). 'A study of assisted problem solving'. British Journal of Psychology, 66 (2),


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