Primary education: listening and observing
Primary education: listening and observing

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Primary education: listening and observing

4 Creative support in action

In this video, primary school teaching assistants talk about their work with children.

Activity 4 Adult support for children’s learning

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

You will not hear them use the specific terms ‘creative practice’, ‘practice speculations’, ‘diagnostic thinking’ or ‘possibility thinking’, the terms you have learned about. But as you watch and listen, see if you can apply these concepts to what they say and to their practical work with children.

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Transcript: Video 6


I organise playground activities. I also then help play leaders and organise where they will be in the playground. Our play leaders are from years five and six. And they can range from maybe five to sometimes 15 on the playground at the one time. They will then supervise the younger children and encourage them to learn through play, which they don't realise that they're actually learning because they're playing. And so they find it fun and they enjoy it.


The play leaders, they're also assigned so that if there is a wet play or an instance where the children can't go out on the playground, they will come into the classroom then and organise physical activities so the children are not just sat there watching films or doing something boring. They're actually physically active. Because we find that once they've had a play, and they come in, their behaviour's a lot better then once they've let off a bit of steam. They're good role models for the children to look up to. Because they will teach them new skills-- sharing, playing fairly, taking turns. So they are an asset to the school, really, when we have the play leaders.
What colour is it?
If it is a red--
I've been a teaching assistant at Oakfield for eight years. I have two children at the school as well. I work with Zoe on a one-to-one basis daily all week in Foundation. I support Zoe in the classroom. She does exactly what everybody else does, but obviously I will support her alongside the activity she has to do. I also have to support her in areas where-- because there are lots of outside agencies that come in to help to support speech and language, occupational therapists. And so I have to go away and do one-to-one work with her on the plans that they actually give us, which is over a six week period. A one-to-one is quite a demanding-- it can be quite demanding role, especially if you have a child with behaviour who issues, which Zoe can have at times. Listen …
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
You ready to go and find a different game?
Come on then, put the book back. That's better. It's hard to support a child, because you try to give them as much independence, although with Zoe, you do find that you will have to give her the instructions again, and you have to explain the activity again. So also, she needs to learn the whole idea of taking turns. But once she knows, you can then step away from her. But there are free flow activities, where we have the toys and the sand and the water-- I let her go off and play. And then all the adults in the room will watch her. I'm not just always with her so she doesn't feel like she's got someone following her all the time.


Don't want to play this game? Let's play a new game?
Yeah, a new game.
Right, Jacob, you ready? I want you clapping forwards, clapping backwards. I'm a teaching assistant at Herbert Thompson Primary. And I work within year 3 and year 4. And also, I do a play-to-learn group. Excellent, get right on your tippy-toes, right on your tippy-toes. We call it Wednesday group, and they come along. And I think they probably describe it as extra PE, just a bit of extra PE. And it's just part of the fun and part of the range of activities that are around at lunchtimes. We have a wide range of equipment out and table tennis tables and things for them to use. So this is just another alternative for them to use on a Wednesday. Go on, not so fast, soldier crawl. Excellent. Ready? Good. You just need to be aware of what's going on around you, using your peripheral vision a lot. It's just checking, because they do tend to get overexcited, but I tend to structure the lessons, to a certain extent, so that they know exactly what's going to happen next. We do have group rules and boundaries, so they know that if I give them one warning and they don't perhaps listen to what's happening, they know there are going to be some consequences of that, like you're going to have to sit out for a minute. And because of the nature of the difficulties that these children have, sometimes they do have behaviour difficulties as well. And a lot of their self-esteem is quite low, so if they find they can't do something, often you'll have some temper tantrums or different responses to people. Some of them aren't very aware of their personal space and tend to get very close to other children. And because of the autistic spectrum disorders, that can upset them a lot. So you do have to be mindful of it. You have to know your children very well and just make sure that your problem solving as you go along, really. Opposite.


Opposites. Right. So fantastic, here we go.
I'm a TA, one-to-one with Aaron. Aaron is registered blind, has visual impairment to quite a severe degree. And a lot of my work is spending time doing one-on-one activities with him. But some of my role is observation, where Aaron is allowed to freely flow between activities. And at this time, I also work with the other children in the class. He has a wonderful set of resources from the Royal National Institute of the Blind, some wonderful maths materials which are very tactile. And a lot of it with Aaron is concepts, which may be quite obvious to children with vision, as for example, thick and thin, rough and smooth, small and large. These concepts, even though he has some vision, he often will feel things before deciding what they could be. So it's wonderful to see. And some of the resources would be wonderful with every child. But it's especially interesting to see Aaron using them and enjoying them. Difficulty becomes more with literacy materials, because when you're looking at letters, it's just a letter. We do use the sandpaper letters, and we do do things, for example, making letters out of Play-Doh or using sand and flour. But it makes-- that's more of a difficulty for Aaron, with his vision. It's more of a vision-based thing. If he was completely blind, he would probably have started learning Braille by now. But as he has some sight, it isn't proper. He is able to see the letters. It's just whether he can differentiate between the different lines and shapes.
You now are going to go off, and you are going to write a play script about Molly and Peter. We'll go into Miss Hawkins' office to show them the work. And you need to think carefully about what I want to see. The actual group that I support, one of them is statements, so we work towards his statement. Right. OK, Jacob? Then I think that the stage directions through Jacob a little bit. So just told him then to forget about the stage directions and just focus on the characters and their speech, and it seemed to work. He seemed to come around pretty quick. Is it a question? Is she asking a question? Does she seem to use a similar question? Wow, look at my work. Well done. Just remember, it's Peter and Molly in the first scenes. Usually, within my group, we don't tend to do a lot of writing. Ours is just normal like throwback, back and forth questions. And I'll scribe them on the board. They'll come and scribe themselves. Because we need to think about putting their speech in there now, OK? To Miss Hawkins' office. So finish your stage directions off? What are they saying? What's Peter saying? He's gone down to Miss Hawkins' office. What do you think he's going to say? Are you writing your stage directions?
Dylan, that's fine. What you're going to do is just put your brackets around. We have PPA once a week, where we sit down and we plan literacy maths for the next few weeks. And within my group for literacy, we'll go over what's going to be happening, what I'm going to be doing. And I do have a lot of input because I know the children. I work with them. Sometimes I will have to adapt the planning. But obviously, I would say to Emma, then, I think they will be better off doing this. And then together, we'll come to a compromise. Peter knocks on the door.
How do you spell knocked?
Sound it out. "N". So you're right. That's "oh" next. And then a "k", there you are. I'm fairly easy going. You have to listen, communicate well with the children. You have to come over, be sympathetic to them, just to get everything across, really. Remember what the left-hand column does? That's the person's name.
End transcript: Video 6
Video 6
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Sam organises playground activities. She recognises and draws on the skills and experiences of older children to be role models for younger children. She encourages fairness, turn-taking and sharing. She gives responsibility to children and stands back to observe their interactions. She takes decisions to change or adapt activities based on what she sees and hears.

Billie supports a child who has Down’s syndrome. She makes moment-to-moment decisions in order to balance close 1-1 support for Zoe with encouraging her to be independent. She manages her close proximity to Zoe by observing her closely and stepping in when necessary.

Vicki says awareness and problem-solving are important in her physical work with children who have a range of individual needs. Her awareness of what is going on all around, and problem-solving to respond to behavioural problems, help Vicki to ensure all children are included and can participate. She says you have to know the children very well.

Suzanne supports a child with a visual impairment. Her observations of Aaron as he works in the classroom help her to support and evaluate his development. She understands the challenges of abstract concepts for Aaron, and uses resources specifically to help him understand

Justine supports children in a literacy group. She says listening, communication and sympathy are important skills to support children’s learning. Justine knows the children very well, and she uses this knowledge to decide when and how to adapt the teacher’s lesson plan to suit their needs.


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