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Language assistants' answers


Question: Mentors

I'd like to know how other assistants are getting on with their mentors. I get on with mine and there are no problems as such, but he's always very busy and I feel like I take too much of his time-- even though I only see him about once a week. Do many assistants take all their lessons on their own?

 

     
 

 

Answer:

It does take time to get to know how and when teachers will use you. If they haven't used an assistant before they might develop your role as the year progresses. If they see you are good at something or the students enjoy a particular activity with you then they may encourage more.


Answer:

In systems where teachers are not regularly observed they may feel nervous. Having someone with you in your lessons can leave you feeling exposed, almost an invasion of privacy. If your teacher is a bit brusque or difficult to get to know there may be undercurrents of this. The teacher has built up a rapport with the class using their own style and now they have to "share" that rapport. All these teething troubles clear up if you get to know and respect each other. Treat them like an expert. Turn to them for advice.


Answer:

There's a fine line between pestering for help and arranging a convenient moment to talk about the class in a concrete way. The teacher might not feel talking about it is necessary. You need to be diplomatic here. Explain tactfully that you will feel more confident of doing a good job for them if you can be guided beforehand.


Answer:

Making it clear that you appreciate the teachers' input and expertise is vital for opening up the team work. If they expect you take a whole class by yourself, which is beyond your brief as an assistant, then they should give you some support.



Answer:

One of the key thing is to get planning out in the open, keep asking what the teacher will be doing and where you fit in. Accept the role that they choose even if a fellow assistant talks of having freedom to organise whole classes and you are in class with teachers who use you for reference. It is useful to be a guide on pronunciation, usage or British culture. Every teacher and age group have different needs. Accept you role.


Answer:

I think you are getting worried by hearing other assistants saying they take whole classes. In theory you are not supposed to take whole classes as you are there to assist. In practice the host countries and their teachers decide how best to use assistants and extend the role that has been outlined. It is very difficult to control once it is interpreted by other countries and we have to be quite diplomatic about this.

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