Becoming a successful teaching assistant (TA) is more than just supporting teachers in the classroom; it’s about making a positive impact in the lives of students.


All students learn at different speeds and have different learning abilities – some children will need extra support with writing, reading or numeracy skills. As a teaching assistant, your role is to support students through lessons. This requires a unique blend of qualities and skills.


Whether you’re just starting out in your role or looking to enhance your skills, this guide will outline what makes a good teaching assistant. We’ll explore the essential traits that define a successful teaching assistant and discuss why each one is important for achieving positive learning outcomes in the classroom.

Passion for working with children


At the heart of every successful teaching assistant is a genuine passion for working with children. Having a passion for working with children is fundamental as it drives commitment, enthusiasm and dedication to supporting students’ growth and development.


Successful teaching assistants find joy in witnessing the progress and achievements of the children they work with, and they approach each day with a sense of purpose and fulfilment.


A passion for working with children enables teaching assistants to form meaningful connections with students. Teaching assistants who have a passion for working with children are also better equipped to make a lasting and meaningful impact on the lives of their students, contributing to their academic success, personal development, and overall happiness.

Understanding of child development and learning


It is essential for teaching assistants to have an understanding of child development and learning as it enables them to effectively support the academic, social, and emotional growth of students.


Successful teaching assistants are knowledgeable about learning theories and diverse learning styles, allowing them to tailor their support to meet the unique needs of each student. Teaching assistants should also understand developmental milestones as it allows them to identify potential challenges or delays and intervene early to provide targeted assistance and intervention.


As a teaching assistant, you can educate yourself on child development through several ways:


  • Enrol in courses or training focused on child psychology, developmental stages, and educational theories. If you’re registered us, have a look at our latest training courses here.
  • Check out resources like books and articles that provide insights into the latest research and best practices in education.
  • Seek advice from experienced teachers or mentors to deepen your knowledge.

Ability to work as part of a team


Collaboration and teamwork are essential aspects of being a successful teaching assistant as it allows you to maximise student success and contribute to a positive learning environment.


By working collaboratively with teachers, teaching assistants can align their efforts with instructional goals, adapt curriculum materials, and implement differentiated instruction to meet the diverse needs of students. Furthermore, collaborating with other staff, such as special education teachers or SENCOs, allows teaching assistants to access additional resources and expertise to support students with special needs.


As well as benefiting students, collaboration also promotes professional growth and development for teaching assistants. By working collaboratively with colleagues, teaching assistants have opportunities to learn from each other, expand their skill sets, and gain new perspectives on effective teaching practices.

Effective communication with students, teachers and parents


Strong communication skills are important for teaching assistants as it serves as a foundation for building positive relationships. Teaching assistants should be able to express themselves both verbally and nonverbally to students, teachers, and parents.


Successful teaching assistants communicate clearly, respectfully and promote open dialogue within and outside the classroom. By sharing information, insights, and feedback openly and transparently, teaching assistants can align their efforts with class learning goals and provide cohesive support to students.


Effective communication with students is essential for establishing positive relationships and facilitating learning experiences. Teaching assistants who communicate empathetically with students create a supportive space where students feel comfortable expressing themselves, asking questions, and seeking assistance.

Be flexible and adaptable


The ability to adapt to changing circumstances and unexpected challenges is a key indicator of a good teaching assistant. A successful teaching assistant will approach each day with flexibility, ready to adjust their plans as needed to support student learning and well-being.


Flexibility allows teaching assistants to adjust their approach and strategies in response to changing needs, schedules, and priorities. Whether it’s accommodating last-minute changes to lesson plans or stepping in to support students in different capacities, flexibility enables teaching assistants to remain responsive in the face of uncertainty.


On the other hand, adaptability is essential for teaching assistants to thrive among evolving technologies, teaching methods, and student demographics. Teaching assistants who are adaptable embrace change as an opportunity for growth and learning. They seek out new strategies and perspectives to meet the evolving needs of students.

Maintain a positive attitude and mindset



A positive attitude is contagious and can greatly influence the atmosphere in the classroom. Successful teaching assistants bring encouragement and enthusiasm to their interactions with students and other members of staff. They maintain a can-do attitude, even in the face of adversity, and inspire others with their optimism. They also believe in the potential of every student.


Although being a teaching assistant can be hard work sometimes, it’s important to tackle every challenge with a positive attitude. Not only will this help you overcome challenges, it will also leave a positive influence on those around you.

Here are some tips for maintaining a positive attitude as a teaching assistant:


  • Practice gratitude: Take time each day to reflect on and appreciate the positive aspects of your work, such as the progress and achievements of students, moments of collaboration and teamwork with colleagues, and personal growth.


  • Stay present: Focus on the present moment and approach each day with mindfulness. Avoid dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future challenges. Instead, focus on being fully present and engaged at work.


  • Seek support: Reach out to colleagues, mentors, or support networks for guidance when needed. Share challenges and successes with others and seek feedback to help maintain a positive mindset.


  • Take Care of Yourself: Prioritise self-care and well-being by engaging in activities such as exercise, hobbies, spending time with loved ones, and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation.

Be prepared and plan ahead


Successful teaching assistants understand the importance of thorough preparation. They anticipate needs, plan ahead, and organise resources to support learning activities. A good teaching assistant aims to maximise the time spent teaching and minimise disruptions.


Teaching assistants who prioritise preparation and planning create a structured and organised environment that promotes positive learning outcomes for students.


Being prepared and planning ahead helps teaching assistants feel more confident, competent, and in control of their responsibilities. By anticipating needs, organising tasks, and having contingency plans in place, teaching assistants can reduce stress and anxiety, allowing them to focus their attention on supporting student learning.

Understand individual student needs


As a teaching assistant, remember there is no one-size-fits-all solution for students who require support. Understanding that each child is different is crucial.


To effectively support students, teaching assistants should aim to implement personalised learning approaches based on their needs and interests. The best way to get this information is by asking the learners themselves or by asking their parents about their strengths and weaknesses. You can also observe pupils when completing tasks to identify aspects they may need extra help in.


By recognising and addressing individual differences, teaching assistants can tailor their support and address barriers to learning. This personalised approach promotes student engagement, academic achievement, and overall well-being, creating an inclusive and supportive learning environment where all students can thrive.

Becoming a successful teaching assistant requires a combination of passion, dedication, and skill. 


From a passion for working with children to strong communication skills, flexibility, and a positive attitude, each trait plays a vital role in shaping the success of a teaching assistant. By embodying these traits and doing your best every day, teaching assistants can unlock their full potential and make a lasting impact on the lives of the students. 


As you start your teaching assistant career, remember that your dedication and commitment to supporting student learning and well-being are valuable contributions in the classroom.


Are you interested in becoming a teaching assistant? Why not check out our latest teaching assistant roles or get in touch with our team today.


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