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Organising the collaboration of assistant teachers

English teachers in Madrid Autonomous Region —not sure about other Regions, but I’d love to hear about it— whether with a permanent post or working as interinos, either in the “so-called bilingual secondary schools or in some mainstream schools, are often assigned an assistant native-speaker.

Talking to various teachers about this issue, I have met a variety of responses: some say that these language assistants are eager to learn and willing to collaborate, while others argue that they do nothing unless they are specifically told what to do. Often I’ve been told that it varies from one language assistant to another.

At the beginning of September I was talking to  a dear friend and colleague, Cati Torres about this issue. Cati has held a permanent post in the Madrid State school system since 2006, having previously worked as an interina for some years, and she is a highly active, motivated and motivating English teacher. As we were talking about collaboration, she offered to share with the Poppies blog’s readers  a document she has designed to make things easier both for her and for language assistants coming to her classes.

She mentioned that the Educa Madrid website has this link  where both language assistants and teachers in general can find info about their role and what is expected and not expected from them.

But she has also designed the following, which she wants to share with anybody who might be interested:

Assistant teacher: steps for preparing the classes

Assistant teacher´s name: ………………………………………………………………

Teacher´s name: ……………………………………………..

Group: ………………………  Date: ………


___1. Prepare yourself beforehand (materials, students´ level of English and age, get familiar with the school´s organization)

___2. Welcome students in English

___3. Position yourself – where you are most comfortable (behind desk/podium or in front of the desk, amongst the students).

___4. Introduce yourself briefly (name/interests) trying to adapt to your students´ level of English, using simple vocabulary and structures, making use of gestures, eye-contact, and slowing down when necessary.

___5. Indicate: your goals and expectations (shared responsibility for making the class a success).

___6. Think about an Icebreaker activity – to get to know them. How will you learn their names? https://www.eslconversationquestions.com/icebreakers-speaking-activities



Before any presentation, know your P.A.L.

Purpose – objectives, task

Audience – knowledge base, age, interests, academic background

Logistics – time, room arrangement

*Channel your adrenaline (nervousness) into enthusiasm!*

Communicating real interest and enthusiasm for the subject you are teaching counts as much, if not more, than the technical skill of presenting it to others!

Common beliefs about learning:

“Tell me and I’ll forget.

Show me and I’ll remember.

Involve me and I’ll understand and create”.

  • Say what you are going to do (stating objectives);
  • do it (the activity of the lesson that achieves the objective);
  • say what you have done (review the objective they accomplished);
  • give them something to do (practice the objective).

Begin with an end in mind.

Questions to consider when planning the class or presentation:

– What are the students to learn and why?

– What do the students already know?

– What is the most appropriate delivery technique to convey the information?

– What is the most logical sequence to pursue?

– How will you know if the desired learning has taken place?

Presentation style

– Prepare!!

– Capture/motivate/gain the students’ attention (through use of a story, quotation, question)

– Speak clearly & pronounce correctly

– Add emphasis & use familiar words

– Look at the students

– Pause occasionally and breathe.


  1. What specifically do you wish me to do in class/role?
  2. What specifically do you wish me to teach?
  3. Are there any particular students you would like me to concentrate on/ work with?
  4. What are your objectives and expectations for the lesson?
  5. How long would you like me to intervene in class?
  6. When can we get together after the lesson and share feedback?


  1. How do you think the lesson went?
  2. How long did you spend doing your assigned task?
  3. Are you happy/satisfied with the role you played in class? Was it an active role?
  4. Did you cover/teach the specific points the instructor asked  you to cover/teach?
  5. Were you effective in maintaining discipline? What resources did you use?
  6. Did you share your feedback with the instructor at any moment during the week? Why/why not?

Thank you, very much Cati!

And to the rest of you…

  • Have you found it helpful?
  • Based on your experience, would you add anything else?
  • Would you like to share something with your colleagues?

If you do, we’ll all benefit and enrich ourselves!

Apasionada de la lengua inglesa y sus múltiples matices, mi objetivo es ayudarte en la preparación de la oposición a profesores de inglés y contribuir a que la escuela pública ofrezca la enseñanza de calidad –de y en lengua inglesa– que nuestros alumnos necesitan en el s. XXI

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