10 things every teaching assistant needs

Sarah Salmon

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Making a difference to a child's life day in day out can be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teaching assistant.

Whether you're working with one specific teacher or running from one class to another and having to adapt to different age groups and subjects can end up being pretty tiring.

Being the go-between for a teacher and their students land in great responsibility to be organised, consistent and reliable which is why having the right resources and tools can make all the difference to your day.

classroom TA

To ensure you feel prepared for your day-to-day in the classroom, here are 10 things you may find incredibly helpful during your busy day in school as a teaching assistant.

1. Planner

Whether you're working with only one class and teacher or working between multiple age groups and classrooms, having a planner is essential for keeping on top of things. Having a planner helps you to organise any extra-curricular activities or admin tasks you have between the different groups you manage.

Having all your commitments stored in one place makes it a consistent go-to for managing priorities. It is also worth storing a map of your school, fire safety instructions and any school policies on behaviour and safeguarding in a pouch at the back of your planner for reference in any emergencies.

2. Stationary

It may seem like an obvious but it is always good to carry around a spare pack of pens and pencils as you will always have one or two students or turn up empty-handed. Keeping these organised and together in a case will help time-save in moments when resources are needed imminently.

3. A sensory/ fidget toy

If you are working in a classroom with students who struggle to focus or concentrate or those with ADHD/ ADD, it is worth carrying a sensory toy just in case. Allowing these students to focus on a sensory toy during longer periods of teaching or class presentations, can help these students stay focused and still.

Sensory toys have been shown to increase attention, memory and focus in those with ADHD but it is always advised to check with the teacher that they are comfortable with you assisting students with this asset before the lesson begins.

TA essentials

4. Stamps or stickers

If you're working with a young age group, carrying around a book of stamps or stickers is a good way of rewarding students for desirable classroom behaviours. Introducing a sticker chart for good work either on a classroom display or in their individual books can really help encourage students to make progress through goal-setting.

5. A book

Most classes these days will have time for reading at some point in their schedule. It is good practice to carry a suitable book that you can lend to a student if they forget to bring one themselves or if you are helping to assist or lead a circle-time reading practice with a class.

6. Trainers

No matter what age group or subject you are first appointed to in your job, there will always be an instance when you'll be asked to help assist in a P.E. class, sports day or take on the responsibility of lunch or break time duty. Having a pair of trainers will come in handy when you find yourself in an unavoidable trip onto the school field!


7. A bottle of water

Whilst we're sure your daily liquid consumption comprises mostly of coffee, you cant' solely rely on it on a day-by-day basis! Having a bottle of water you can sip on throughout the day will not only keep your energy and concentration levels balanced but will also help replenish your voice if you're managing a particularly noisy classroom!

8. Snacks

Keep a selection of snacks in your bag as your students are not the only ones who need to keep their energy levels up throughout the day. Quick, healthy and easily transportable snacks like granola bars, fruit and nuts are perfect for refuelling when you feel your energy dip - trust us when we say working with children is tiring and hungry work!

9. Hand sanitiser

It's not news when we say schools are the prime places for spreading germs all year round! Children are constantly going down with bugs and viruses so it's good practice to regularly use hand sanitiser or hand wipes to help prevent spreading or picking up the bug of the week - better to be safe than sorry in bed with a stinking cold!

colourful class

10. A really great bag

Between your purse, phone, snacks, water, books and papers to mark, a really good and sturdy bag can help organise and keep your things in order without feeling like you're lugging a hiking bag into work each day.

It's a given that you'll be taking some work home but for some reason, if the bag you carry home with you is tatty, old or ugly, it can make you feel unmotivated to open it back up. Investing in a really lovely bag - whether it be a bright colour, a brand you like or just one that feels great to wear, the more motivated and positive you will feel about the work you'll be carrying in there.

Are there any essentials you can't live without when working in a classroom? Share it in the comments section below!

For more teacher assistant advice, read our 'The top 10 things new SEND TA's need to know'.



About our Community Expert


Sarah Salmon

Digital Marketing Executive

With a background in social media management and editorial writing for jewellery and gemological education, Sarah is the Digital Marketing Executive at Opogo.

Sarah has extensive experience in facilitating the sourcing of industry research, editing copy, writing web content and utilising social media to secure an ever-growing social audience.

Sarah is the voice of Opogo across all our social channels.

Opogo is a community platform designed to help schools attract and retain the talent that’s right for them. Our social hub is packed with rich content from our community experts. And through our ever-evolving Smart Match technology, teachers can be booked for work simply and quickly.

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