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Assistant teacher course/Reinventing the wheel

Reinventing the wheelEdit

Reinventing the wheel
Activity: lecture, group work
Group size: unlimited
Preparation: test run
Instructors: 1
Duration: ?


An important goal of the course is to allow the assistant teachers to form a solid understanding of their new office and its obligations and goals. While it is commonly seen as an anti-pattern to reinvent the wheel it appears to be a good way to allow the pupils to come to a good understanding of their work. This unit aims to guide the assistant teachers to deduce and to document important aspects of their office by themselves.

Future participants may have had the opportunity to observe assistant teachers in their own class during fifth grade to seventh grade already. They can be asked to describe their own observations and to be inventive.


Assistant teachers should be able to help a teacher

  • to hold a lesson,
  • to support pupils during a lesson,
  • to prepare a lesson and
  • to evaluate pupils

What goals do assistant teachers have?
What skills and behaviors do assistant teachers need?


It is recommended to discuss the two questions for a while to allow everybody to better relate to the topic and then to go into detail questions in group work or solitary work.


Part I: Ends
What ends should assistant teachers pursue?

  • What should assistant teachers do?
(e.g. teach the class while the teacher does something else)
  • What should assistant teachers support?
(e.g. verify homework, form study groups)
  • What should assistant teachers aim to prevent?
(e.g. inattentiveness, disturbances)


The participants can work alone or in groups and write down their ideas.

The participants can be invited to try out their ideas if the group shows undesirable behavior: Are pupils inattentive? What can be done for them? Two or three pupils in a room can be invited to show notable disinterest after a while. How do the participants react?

The course instructors should explain the situation afterwards and, should anybody have reacted to the challenge, let the pupils who did react explain what they did and why. The answers may be simple but may allow the whole group to better relate to the topic.

Has a group or invidiual been unproductive? The participants should verify if their neighbors have been more inventive or less inventive. If there are groups or individuals who appear to need help the groups should be changed accordingly. At the end of the unit every single participant should be able to take the view that he did help to define and to understand what the assistant teacher office actually is.


Part II: Required skills, behaviors and traits
Imagine the work of an assistant teacher as you described it yourself.

  • What skills are required?
  • What behaviors are required?
  • What traits are required?

How can skills, behaviors and traits be trained?


The course instructors can collect and discuss some of the ideas that were written down. Working groups can name speakers who represent their groups.


Part III: Psychology

  • What are the imaginable needs of the pupils?
  • Where are conflicting interests?
  • What other interpersonal problems can occur?
  • Are there situations where assistant teachers should change their goals depending on the situation?


The results should be discussed again.


Part IV: Organization
How can assistant teachers organize their work?
How can assistant teachers cooperate with

  • each other?
  • the class teacher?
  • the subject teachers?
  • the pupils they help to teach?
  • their own class or grade?


The results should be discussed. If the pupils have invented different ideas and views the course instructor can try to assemble different models from the ideas (e.g. direct democratic approach, representative approach, teacher-guided approach)

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