A teaching assistant is an asset to any classroom. To work effectively, a teaching assistant must have a clear set of goals to follow and professional support from her mentor. The idea is to help the teacher and the teaching assistant work together to give the type of support the students need.


To set relevant, effective goals for your teaching assistant, consult your department, the needs of the students, and your own needs.

Determine What You and the Department Need From the Teaching Assistant

When you’re setting goals for your teaching assistant, the department should be your first “stop.” Find out what the department wants from the teaching assistants it hires and look over the teaching assistant’s job description. Then, examine your own job description. You have classroom goals your teaching assistant can help you achieve. So, think about where you need support and the type of tasks and objectives you can delegate.

Determine What the Students Need From the Teaching Assistant

Next, determine what your students need from their teaching assistant. The students are the most important part of this equation. You know what your students need. Maybe it’s more one-on-one time with an instructor, or maybe it’s a quicker turnaround on their assignment. Make a list of all your students’ needs, tangible and intangible. These will provide structure and direction for the goals you set for your teaching assistant.

Create a Realistic, Goal-Oriented Course of Action

Once you’ve nailed down the department’s goals, the students’ needs and your needs, it’s time to create a set of goals for the teaching assistant to reach by the end of the quarter, semester or school year, depending on how long she will be working with you. Fill your goal list with concrete, quantifiable goals. Effective goals to include could be:

  • Work with X number of students one-on-one each week
  • Have tests and quizzes graded and back to students within X number of days
  • Contact each student’s parent at least X number of times per month/quarter/semester to discuss the student’s progress

Don’t only make the goals about serving the students and completing job tasks; be sure to include goals for the teaching assistant’s professional development, like reading books about classroom management and improving her time-management skills. Build self-evaluation and regular performance meetings with you an integral part of the action plan and brainstorm ways to work effectively together.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communicate with the teaching assistant to determine how his personal career goals fit with your goals and the needs you’ve identified. You might have to adjust your goals to make them fit better with the teaching assistant’s professional goals. As the teaching assistant’s mentor, part of your job is to help him become better at his job and set him up for career success. Keep in mind, however, that you’re the teacher, and she’s here to assist you so clearly communicate what you need her to do.