Teaching assistants are a vital part of my professional life. I teach very special children in a very special school. These children face many challenges in their lives. Some have complex neurological difficulties and some have behaviour difficulties. Some have profound and multiple difficulties while others find learning itself a challenge. All of these children are educated together in one school. Working with these children requires stamina, empathy and endless patience. Teaching assistants have the power to make or break a class. Some may be harder work than the children. I’ve known teaching assistants actually do the work for the children. They see it as a personal slur on their own intelligence if the work is not completed correctly. Others talk over the children and interrupt their learning. A small minority forget that the reason they are employed is to work for the good of the children. A good TA is worth their weight in gold. Every so often a good one pops up and makes all the difference to my teaching. Four years ago one such TA came in to my classroom. She was only 17 and had never worked with children. She was barely more than a child herself. I have watched this young lady develop and mature over the years and grow in to the best TA I’ve ever seen. She has a wonderful manner with the children. They adore her. She finds exactly the right way to gently encourage their learning. She instills confidence in them and gives them that all important self belief that helps them to succeed. She also has exemplary behaviour management skills and can turn most difficult children around. This TA has also been a mentor for me. Together we have discovered new technology and worked as an unstoppable duo to put this technology in to the classroom to enhance the learning of the children. She has given me the cionfidence to try new things and has made me believe in my own ability. I wouldn’t have half of my skills without her gentle encouragement. Why am I writing this? The answer is because my best TA is now leaving for pastures new. I’m sorry to see her go but I can’t hold her back. She’s ready for new challenges now. I’ll miss her and it’s doubtful that another one of her calibre will come along any time soon. The school who is getting the hugely talented @csgant is one very lucky school. I hope they appreciate her. As for my TA I wish her all the luck in the world. She deserves it!