The Teacher Assistant Program
As some students may know, this year our school implemented a teacher assistant program. Graduates of GZAAT can be seen in different classes, helping teachers conduct lessons, explaining material, and interacting with different students. However, many may not be aware of how this program originated, its main purpose, and how it benefits all three parties: students, assistants, and teachers.
The idea of the program first arose last academic year, when a senior, Mariam Beshidze, talked to Mrs. Gvantsa Zhuruli about attending her classes, as she had decided to take a gap year. “I was completely open to the idea, I just thought to give it a more official and beneficial format,” said Mrs. Gvantsa. Later on, they talked to Mr. Cruz about turning this idea into a project, and he happily agreed. A few other students had decided to take gap years as well, so they also joined the teacher assistant program. Such students include Mariam Kurdevanidze, Tika Nazrishvili, and Mariam Khaduri.
Mrs. Gvantsa has emphasized that the program is very beneficial for the teachers themselves. “The program is like a training for me, as I have to explain to the assistant teachers how I lead my lessons and why I do certain things. This encourages me to put more work into it. A great thing about this program is that the assistants can give me advice too. For example, they have advised me to implement more creative writing into the syllabus and put emphasis on it. Therefore, I decided to bring back a creative project I used to have a few years ago, about Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron.” Mrs. Khatuna Tskhadadze, who is also actively involved in the program, said: “This program is basically an intermediate vision between the teachers and the students, because all of the TA’s are experienced in writing homework, taking notes and knowing the teacher's approach. Whenever assistants correct students assignments, It helps them get another point of view at their work and also TA’s contribute to the discussion with their different and sometimes, eye-opening ideas”
Mariam Beshidze, the originator of this program, commented on this project as well: “I thought that I would offer a valuable contribution to the classroom during the first semester when the seniors are covering Dante and Boccaccio. I wanted to make the process of learning easier and more interesting for the students, and I wanted to work on their writing skills since I like editing and correcting pieces of writing and have some experience in this regard.”
There are several other teacher assistants who are helping the English, math and science departments. One of the TA’s, Mariam Kurdevanidze, mentioned how the program benefits her and all of the other assistants: “This program benefits me in several ways. I get to experience the education process in a completely new and different position. I have the opportunity to gain new skills and practice being a teacher in a very healthy and comfortable environment. One of the most special things that I got a hold of is the ability to compare and watch a classroom from two different perspectives.” Tika Nazrishvili, a TA in the math department finds the program very successful and conducts support sessions with students twice a week. “I try to explain mathematics conceptually and show the students that mathematics is not the harsh combination of formulas that they have to learn by heart. I go in depth of every concept to make my students apprehend the meaning and importance behind every material. I try to show them the idea and logic behind the theorems, where they come from. I want them to understand the essence and beauty of mathematics.”
Students of GZAAT also seem absorbed in the program. Mariam Dzidzikishvili, a sophomore, said: “I think it’s a great program that both the students and assistants benefit from, since they really help with speeding up the learning process for us and in turn, we help them with learning how to handle a classroom. I love all of the new trainees and think they do a good job at teaching. I’m glad our school implemented this program and it would be nice if they continued it for a while.”
In conclusion, this program is a really interesting innovation for our school. It gives teachers a helping hand and the students another point of view of their work and standing in the class. As teachers and TA’s promise, they have an interesting curriculum planned for all students that will provide them with a range of benefits.