Keeping Your Teaching Assistants Involved During Distance Learning


Many of you are blessed with a teacher assistant while in the classroom but may be struggling with how to best utilize your TA during distance learning. If you are teaching virtually this school year due to COVID, you are probably like many of us who feel overwhelmed at times with planning for your students. Everything that ran so smoothly in the classroom has been shifted in a hot minute to virtual teaching. We at Education to the Core heard your questions and went straight to the experts, other primary teachers. We have included for you below some ideas they shared of how they are involving their teaching assistant during distance learning as well as a few of our own, in hopes this may help you and your TA.

Leading Interventions 

They help run small groups and conduct read-alouds for students.

I have mine take each individual child into a breakout room to have the child practice reading.

I teach a self-contained low cognitive special ed class. I have three teaching assistants. I put them in break out rooms with one or two students to work on skills.

Do online math games with small groups; lead question of the day so that I can observe students.

Following with our reading series and lots of blending c-v-c words. These Word Building Cards are a great way for your students to practice CVC words and beyond. 


My teaching assistant is involved in distance learning by supporting what I am doing in whole group and small group. In the whole group she does our greeting, and also helps to present our SEL lessons. In a small group, she supports everything. She’s also able to take over in an instant if I have tech issues. She also does 1-2 meets 3 times a week after our day ends to give another layer of instruction. Right now she’s focusing on literacy, so I created a Google slideshow with all of her activities and she uses it to present the activities with the kids.

My teaching assistant is amazing! She records short grammar, phonics, and vocabulary, 2 each day. She also records a secondary math lesson and teaches two small groups daily. She also comes in and helps prepare packets once a month. She’s worth her weight in gold!

I assist my first-grade teacher in every lesson, take attendance, monitor chat, keep a whiteboard with modeled work for those who are slower at copying, and go with the class to specials meets. I also take over if needed for any reason and assist with technical glitches. In January, I will be starting to do sight words and sound-spellings in pullouts… We have many sensory students and I collect data on them for IEPs.

Distance Learning Classroom Management

teaching assistants monitor students when raising their hands

Moderating our whole class google meet (muting kids when they won’t mute themselves) and doing small groups.

Ours will jump in and help monitor the chat and catch hands raised.

My teaching assistant lets students in from the lobby and mutes the kids. This really helps me when I’m sharing my screen with my students and I don’t have to keep letting in late students.

Assessing in breakout rooms, running the meet so I can see the kids, pull up videos, keep students on task, give dojo points, and chats with students as needed for subject change or tech issues, etc.

Data on attendance, comprehension, participation, 1:1 screening for skills such as word recognition, and refocus kids in the breakout rooms so they can participate in lessons.

Helping with Parent Communication

Running copies for weekly distance learning packets. Managing parent pick-up and helping families with technology questions.

Create corresponding packets to send home that align with virtual lessons.

Teaching Assistants Helping Individual Students

I have two aides with my class this year (sped model). After the small group meets, they work with their specific kiddos on completing the work assigned, read books to them, do social stories, and get in additional minutes of instruction to meet the kiddos IEPs!

My teaching assistant is doing speech/ OT activities, teaching a 1/2 hr of kindergarten, then reading one on one, and doing PD assigned by the division.

Plan Distance Learning Lessons

She records read alouds, video themselves teaching art lessons, and prep work for when we return.

Research free resources, screen virtual field trips, learn new technology.

Creating visual slides for the morning meeting. Try our no-prep morning meeting slides to get your day started. 

teaching assistants create morning meeting slides for class

I have my teaching assistant hop on and observe other teachers and their lessons on their zoom meets so that they can learn other techniques.

Professional development on behavior management and working with small groups. 

WOW! This list on how teaching assistants can be involved during distance learning from other teachers is super inclusive from helping 1:1, leading small groups, prepping and planning, helping with data collection, etc. They have really thought outside of the box to have their assistants be full participants in virtual teaching! Hopefully, their suggestions give you some ideas on ways to include your TA in virtual or even when you’re back in the classroom. If you have some thoughts of your own, please share them with us and other teachers below. ??

Written by: Suzanne Kelley

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