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TEACHER AIDE BLOGS & ARTICLES

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Scaffolding: a guide for classroom teachers and teacher aides

Scaffolding is the gradual reduction of support and guidance in response to a student’s progressive competence at a given task.

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Effect size in education research and practice

Effect size (in terms of teaching strategies) refers to the impact that a particular strategy, technique, circumstance or issue has on student learning.

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Phonics: A guide for parents, teachers and teacher aides

Phonics learning is the foundation for success in all subjects and it is the necessary precursor to higher-level reading and writing tasks.

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The levels of instruction

We explore the four main levels from the ‘levels of instruction’ and its application to the classroom practice.

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Chunking

Chunking is dividing a larger task into separate ‘chunks’. Dividing a challenging task into small components means each component can be given due attention.

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Explicit instruction

Explicit instruction is considered by many to be good-old fashioned teaching: the teacher determines what students need to know and then teaches it.

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Setting goals in the classroom

Activities, strategies and resources are selected based on their ability to move learners toward the educational goals in the most effective manner.

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Metacognitive skills

‘Metacognitive skills’ is a catch-all term for the dozens of techniques used to think and learn in a more efficient and effective way.

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Reflective practice

Reflective practice is more than just ‘learning from your mistakes’ – it’s about perfecting your performance and maximising your effectiveness in the shortest period of time possible.

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Differentiated instruction

The concept of differentiated instruction has been well-received by the education community and it has become something of a buzzword in recent times.

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Play-based learning

Children use play to learn how communication works: manipulating words, tone, volume and expression for their own ends.

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Intervention strategies

Every teacher is responsible for monitoring and assessing the progress of their students so that action can be taken if any issues are identified.

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Textbook learning: the elephant in the room

Textbook learning happens when teachers organise learning activities based on (or guided by) a published book written for this specific purpose.

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Mastery learning

The core concept with mastery learning is that students learn a topic until they can achieve an 80-90% score in an assessment.

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Deliberate practice

Deliberate practice is a continual push for performance improvement that is usually achieved by practising small parts of the task until each part is perfected.

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Learning by teaching

One of the effects of the learning by teaching strategy is that the student-teacher consolidates their knowledge by self-assessing their own abilities during each step of the process.

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Motivation strategies for the classroom practitioner

When teachers actively implement motivational strategies, it is usually to raise student motivation to the point where educational goals are achievable.

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Strategies for pair and group work

Students work in pairs or small groups (of 3-5) to complete a task or activity.

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Assistive technologies

Assistive technologies allow people with disabilities to perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to do.

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Social stories and their classroom application

A social story is a list of steps that shows the student how to deal with a specific situation. It is usually written through the eyes of a cartoon character representing the student.

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Teaching aids and props

Teaching aids can be defined as any object used in the educational environment to support learning and to make life easier for the teacher.

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Think-alouds

The think-aloud strategy not only shows what teachers or experts do and how they think, it provides a model for students to copy.

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KWL charts

A KWL chart is a simple and effective type of graphic organiser used by teachers to introduce and guide students through a new topic or text.

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Graphic organisers

Graphic organisers have been used by teachers for many years. While there are many types, they all have one thing in common: they organise information in one way or another.

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Homework: A guide for educators and parents

The primary purpose of homework is to increase the amount of time spent on learning. However, there are various other reasons why teachers set homework.

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Building rapport in the classroom.

Building rapport is not a teaching and learning strategy in the technical sense. Teachers don’t specifically plan for building rapport and no significant part of any lesson is devoted to it.

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Questioning techniques for teachers and teacher aides

There is no doubt that teachers ask a lot of questions and we can therefore safely deduce that a teacher’s questioning skills have a sizeable impact on learning.

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Feedback techniques for teachers and teacher aides

High-performing teachers are continually providing feedback to their students, whether it be quick verbal signals, facial expressions, verbal comments or formal feedback.

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Traditional teaching and learning strategies

Many of the strategies used in the past continue to be used in some way or another by teachers today.

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Mental scripting

Mental scripting is a self-talk technique that involves planning and practising a way of thinking (usually to complete a task more effectively).

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Transferable skills

Good practice is to identify transferable skills as part of the planning process so that there is a combined focus – killing two birds with one stone, as they say.

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Review as a teaching stratgy

Reviews also link past learning to future learning – they are a staging area to regroup and they provide a springboard for the next step in the learning sequence.

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Games and quizzes for teachers and teacher aides

Teachers use games to build rapport. Students are given an outlet for energy, an opportunity for physical exercise and a means to release stress and anxiety.

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One-on-one instruction

One-on-one instruction is without doubt the most effective teaching strategy in terms of improving educational performance.

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Supporting Homework - A no nonsense guide for parents

The topic of homework has always been a contentious issue. Some people argue that children should not be required to do homework at all. Other people believe...

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Learning styles

Learning styles is a type of differentiated instruction that categorises students not by ability levels but into one or more categories of ‘preferred’ ways of learning.

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Multiple intelligences

Based on the theory of multiple intelligences, 2 people can be as ‘smart’ as each other but in very different ways.

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Remedial instruction

The basic premise of remedial instruction is to help students to ‘catch-up’ to their peers and thus prevent ongoing academic issues.

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Self-directed learning

Self-directed learning happens when a student takes responsibility for all aspects of their own learning, including making decisions on what, when, where and how they will learn.

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Flipped learning

Limited class time is used for complex tasks that require teacher support and expertise. Homework is used for basic tasks such as reading and simple practice questions.

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Modern modes of teaching and learning

This article for covers technology learning, online learning, work-based learning, blended learning, contextual learning, immersion learning, incidental learning and cross-curriculum learning.

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Microlearning: A guide for classroom practitioners

Microlearning involves providing a large number of highly targeted ‘nuggets’ that are digitally available to students for when they have time to learn.

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Overlearning: What teachers and support staff need to know

The purpose of overlearning is to make the task seem ridiculously easy to ensure it is completed to a high standard with no stress. Overlearning has several benefits.

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Spaced learning vs massed practice

Spaced learning (also known as disturbed practice) refers to the theory that practising at regular intervals is more effective that practising all at once.

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Problem-based learning for teachers and teacher aides

In problem-based learning, tasks and activities are centred around working toward a solution to a stated problem.

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Learning by failure

For deep learning to occur, students need to be intrinsically motivated, engaged in the activity and to feel safe in attempting tasks that challenge their abilities.

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Discussion as a teaching and learning strategy

A discussion is the exchange of ideas by 2 or more people related to a central topic or problem. In the classroom setting, discussions mainly refer to whole-of-class activities facilitated or led by the teacher.

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Debating and other activities

This article for for teachers and teacher aides covers debating, brainstorming, rehearsals, role plays and simulations.

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6 teaching strategies

This article covers underused but effective teacher strategies incluyding case studies, peer modelling, peer questioning, peer tutoring, think-pair-share and extended investigations.

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Team teaching: what is it and why use it?

Team teaching is a strategy that involves 2 or more teachers working together to teach a class. It is also known as ‘co-teaching’ or ‘shared teaching’.

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Bloom’s taxonomy

Bloom’s taxonomy is found in every education textbook. It is a hierarchical taxonomy of cognitive skills, it shows levels of thinking from the most basic to the most complex.

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Teaching space

This helps students to mentally transition from the playground and to prepare themselves for the learning to come.

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Backwards design

Backwards design and designing down are 2 terms that refer to the process of designing and developing a learning program of some kind.

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The Zone of proximal development

The zone of proximal development refers to the level of difficulty in a given learning task (that is neither too hard nor too difficult) when adequate support is provided by a teacher.

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Cognitive load theory

Cognitive load theory is more of a useful titbit than a teaching strategy. It is premised on the idea that our brains have a limited mental capacity at any one time.

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Serial-position effect

The psychological tendency for humans to remember the first and last items in a list or sequence. Teachers can take advantage of this tendency by presenting the most important information first and last.

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The self-fulfilling prophecy

Also known as the Pygmalion effect, the self-fulfilling prophecy refers to how easily a person is influenced by the expectations of others even if that expectation is based on a false belief.

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Anchor activities

Also commonly known as ‘early finishers’, anchor activities maximise learning time and minimise down time by providing learning opportunities that are largely self-directed.

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Coping strategies in modern classrooms.

In an educational setting, coping strategies refers to the way in which learners predict, prepare, perceive, manage, react and alter their behaviour when stressed.

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Individual education plans (IEPs)

Individual Education Plans (or IEPs as they are more commonly known) are developed when students are identified as having particular needs that are not adequately addressed with additional support alone.

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Formative assessment

Formative assessment is a central technique used by high-performing teachers. Teachers ask hundreds of questions every day to check if a student’s learning trajectory is in line with the goals of the lesson.

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Summative assessment

A final assessment (such as an exam or test) usually held at the end of a course. Students results are scored and used toward their final grade.

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Planning templates

The following templates are general in nature so they can be used by almost any teacher. Remember that planning should be simple, clear and easy to follow.

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Developing students’ writing skills

When learners have mastered phonics, the next focus should be spelling, grammar, punctuation and vocabulary.

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Building on existing knowledge in the classroom

The essence of building on existing knowledge is to reduce the amount of new and isolated content that students are required to learn.

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Prediction: An essential teaching and learning strategy

Prediction is a powerful strategy as it provides a gateway to help students access a text. As students read or view a text, they search for details to confirm or disconfirm their predictions.

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Using cues to develop reading skills

A cue is like a clue. When we don’t fully understand something, such as a sentence with one or more unfamiliar words, we search for cues to help us make meaning.

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Scanning and skimming

2 common reading strategies all kids should learn, and all teachers/ teacher aides should implement.

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Active reading

Successful readers do more than simply read the words on a page. They think about the text not just as they read, but before and afterwards as well.

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Re-reading

Re-reading is an effective comprehension strategy for all ages, including both struggling and advanced readers.

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Repeated reading

Students read something several times until they can read the passage aloud with almost no errors (except for the very occasional ‘um’ or short pause).

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Re-telling as a teaching and learning strategy

Re-telling requires a student to summarise and describe a passage that they have recently read, usually to a teacher or small group.

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Visualisation to boost reading comprehension

When you imagine something in your mind, you are visualising it. Visualisation is our unique and individualistic interpretation of a text.

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Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast strategy is used in early childhood to learn new sounds, in high school to consider 2 elements of a text, and even at the highest echelons of tertiary education.

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Summarise and synthesise

Outlining the main points in a text (summarising) and combining related key points (synthesising).

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Self-questioning: a guide for teachers and teacher aides

Self-questioning helps passive readers to become active readers by directing their reading. During and after reading a passage, students ask themselves questions.

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Consolidation

Lessons and programs have separate and often seemingly unrelated goals. At some point in time, teachers want to show students how these goals are related.

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Writing to learn

The idea is to use writing as a vehicle for organising thoughts, brainstorming, reflecting, consolidating previous learning, reviewing, linking and collating ideas.

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Planning for literacy learning

A multiple-exposure strategy can be used to study the same (or a similar) problem on several occasions in order to develop automaticity and process skills.

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Critical literacy

What exactly is critical literacy, how can you become critically literate and what does being critically literate actually look like?

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TEACHER ASSISTANTS AND DUTY OF CARE

As an education assistant, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of students, yourself and your fellow staff members. This extends to all situations where you are supervising children.

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Introduction to behaviour management

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Identify the root cause

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Types of behaviour

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Systems

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Body language

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Facial expressions

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Tone and volume

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Humour

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Confidence

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Situational awareness

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Positioning

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Minimum necessary force

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Selective ignoring

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Low-key responses

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Meet them at the door

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Signal to begin

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Clear instructions

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Clear expectations

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Pace and short-sharp activities

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Noise control

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Escalations

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Reverse escalations

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Engineer rebellion

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Engineered controls

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Transitions

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Dealing with upset students

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Supervision

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Token economies

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Relocation refusers

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Gradual change

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Over-correction

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Escape-motivated behaviour

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External support mechanisms

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Collect and use data

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Get parents on side

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Behaviour plans

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Countdowns

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Catch them out doing good

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Peer prompting

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Precorrection

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Error correction

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Explicit reprimands

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Choice

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Sit outside

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Detachment

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Drop the ego

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Forgive and forget

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Deal with behaviour privately

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Stock-standard responses

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Downtime

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Escalate with caution

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Surviving the last 15 minutes

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The middle-grounders

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The ripple effect

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The snowball effect

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The Russian Front

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The bored teacher

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Active engagement

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Politeness

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Learn names fast

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Control the floor

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The talk and walk

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Model desirable behaviour

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Just agree

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Don’t bite

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Social reinforcement

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The sidestep

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Pick your battles

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Divide and conquer

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Give them a job

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Active listening

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Wait for it - GO

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10 behaviour management techniques

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Fact Sheet 1 - What the research says about the work of TAs

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Fact Sheet 2 - What the research says about managing TAs

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Fact Sheet 3 - WHS concepts for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 4 - Child protection concepts for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 5 - Behaviour management techniques and concepts for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 6 - Instructional strategies for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 7 - Literacy and language concepts for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 8 - Supporting students with disabilities and disorders

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Fact Sheet 9 - Duty of care for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 10 - Responding to disclosures of abuse or neglect

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Fact Sheet 11 - Physical contact with students

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Fact Sheet 12 - Supervising students using the PSA strategy

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Fact Sheet 13 - Questioning skills & techniques for teachers and TAs

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Fact Sheet 14 - Avoiding common pedagogical errors

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Fact Sheet 15 - Top 10 foundational instructional strategies for TAs and teachers

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Fact Sheet 16 - Culture shock and trauma

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Fact Sheet 17 - Classifying behavioural issues to identify the root cause

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Fact Sheet 18 - The theory of muliple intelligences

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Fact Sheet 19 - Analysing dialogue to improve your practice with IRF

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Fact Sheet 20 - Barriers and impacts (disabilities and disorders)

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