Some of the challenges we faced included that among the TAs, who were employed locally, there was a large variance in competency and experience - all had english as a second language and some of their own educational experiences had been very limited (Cambodia's education system was destroyed in the civil war and has not yet recovered). Added to which, teachers are employed from all over the world and have differing attitudes to/ experience with working with TAs.
As stated in this article based on research done by the Institute of education, what we found most effective was:
1. Clearly (re) defining the role of TA for both TAs and teachers, specifically as one that is about supporting student learning.
2. Providing adequate support for the TAs in their role in supporting learning. For us that involved regular training about how learning happens and how teachers facilitate it in the classroom; training on specific, focused intervention (initially reading); 1:1 coaching; and regular evaluation and feedback. Support was also provided for teachers as facilitators in this role as appropriate.
3. Providing time and the skills needed for teachers and TAs to collaborate on learning goals, needs and strategies to meet these.
Important to the success of this was a leadership team willing to prioritise it (and an individual(s) willing to co-ordinate it) and developing a school-wide understanding of the benefits to student learning. In turn, this is confirmed by experience, so even when, as a teacher or a TA, it all just seems like more work, you are able to see the impact it can/ does have on students' and their learning. Although at first, some teachers did just see it as more work for them, when they began to see the impact it had on student participation and achievement, the majority found it worth it.