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How to get over a bad teaching assistant experience?

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How to get over a bad teaching assistant experience?

Published: 15/11/2018

How to get over a bad teaching assistant experience?

Every industry has its stresses and strains – and being a teaching assistant is certainly no different.

Challenging pupil behaviour, heavy workload, conflicting instructions, multiple roles – sometimes it can all get too much. In serious cases, it can even impact on mental health and wellbeing.

But what can you do to turns things around after a negative experience knocks your confidence or motivation?

In this post, our team of experienced former teachers looks at the unique challenges facing teaching assistants working in schools in London and across the UK – before providing some advice and solutions to help you overcome difficulties and thrive as a teaching assistant.

The challenges explored…

Challenging Pupil Behaviour

As a teaching assistant, often, you’ll be expected to work closely with the most challenging pupils – and dealing with children pushing boundaries, or displaying negative or extreme behaviour all day can take its toll!

Unfortunately, challenging behaviour is present in virtually all school environments – and as a teaching assistant, you’re likely to be in the line of fire at some points of your career.

The important thing here is to remember to not to take things personally when children misbehave. Discuss any behaviour that you feel is unacceptable or inappropriate with class teachers, and ensure you’re presenting a united front, working together and supporting on another to manage problem behaviour.

Heavy workload

As a teaching assistant, you’ll often feel as though you have a million things to do – under constant pressure to do an unrealistic amount of work! This kind of workload can put serious pressure on you, making you feel tired and stressed.

Don’t let your workload get the better of you. Be kind to yourself, and remember, you can only do so much. Speak up about your concerns and do what you can.

Conflicting demands

In some schools, teaching assistants may be subject to demands from multiple different sources – class teachers, head teachers, phase leaders, SENCO with each believing their request is the highest priority. Often these can be quite contradictory partially due to the busy nature of schools and tasks not been clearly identified and communicated internally.

This can be quite frustrating as you may feel that you are being pulled in multiple directions at once and you are unable to complete a task to your best ability as it may no longer be required, or you simply don’t have the required time.

It is therefore important to remain calm and communicate clearly with the people who are asking you to complete the work. Explain to them what you’ve been already asked to do, by whom and ask them to discuss with their colleague prior to continuing. This means that everyone is on the same page, you are not wasting your time and the task is completed.

No clear job role

Teaching assistants often have to be jack of all trades – tackling admin, marking, classroom behaviour management, sometimes all at the same time. Whilst this can be great experience for you, it can also become too much, as you find yourself spread thinly across multiple roles that you simply haven’t been prepared for.

Having honest, frank discussions about your job role is really important. You’re a teaching assistant, and you need to be clear about what you are expected to do. Expressing your concerns to a head teacher or your classroom teacher as soon as you feel that something is not right can help you to avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. You will most likely find they will be empathetic to the situation and help you to manage your workload ensuring you are only doing what is expected of you within your job role.    

...bouncing back from bad experiences.

  1. Talk about them

Our biggest advice is to talk about the experiences and challenges you are facing. Don’t suffer in silence – there is support available. Speak to the school and share experiences with other teaching assistants, and don’t be afraid to raise concerns.

Education Support Partnership offers free, confidential help and support if you feel you’re not being listened to.

  1. Remember you’re not alone

In teaching, you are going to face serious challenges. Remember, you’re not the first teaching assistant to feel the way, and you won’t be the last!

  1. Find a new role

Sometimes, a fresh start can make all the difference. It’s entirely possible that the environment and culture of the school you’re working at simply isn’t the right fit for you. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a better role out there. Every school is different, and utilises teaching assistants in a different way.

If you aren’t getting on with your existing role, there is no harm in exploring your options and finding a different teaching assistant position that suits you better.

  1. Get support!

If you’re struggling, then there is dedicated support for teachers out there in the form of Education Support Partnership – The UK’s only charity providing mental health and wellbeing support services to education staff.

Whether you want confidential advice, need someone to speak to, or just want a friendly, non-judgemental person at the end of the phone – you can call their free helpline at any time, day or night, 365 days a year:

  • Call: 08000 562 561
  • Text: 07909 341 229


Teaching Assistant Positions in London from Future Education

Unhappy with your current TA position?

At Future Education, we’re here to help you find the right teaching assistant role in around London. Whether you’re looking relocate, need a change of scenery or fancy a new challenge, we have supply, part time and full time opportunities in primary, secondary and SEN schools across the capital and beyond

From providing advice on training, development and CVs, to find you your next teaching job within London, we’re here to help.

For further information, call our team today on 020 8256 0910 or email your CV to Alternatively, check out our latest available roles at

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