The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant

By: Andy Cope , Chris Henley , Gary Toward


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 198 x 126mm
ISBN : 9781785830228
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2016

The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant is a new addition to the successful Art of Being Brilliant series.

Based on the authors’ combined 70 plus years of experience, The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant by Andy Cope, Chris Henley and Gary Toward is packed full of creative tips, techniques and strategies for anyone with the crucial role of supporting kids’ learning. There are many different names and acronyms for these amazing classroom practitioners: teaching assistants (TAs), learning support assistants (LSAs), cover supervisors, supply teachers, student mentors, higher level teaching assistants (HLTAs), learning partners – the list goes on. The title doesn’t matter but the quality of support, interaction and learning does. Whether you work one-to-one with individual children, support small groups or work with a whole class – and whether you work in a primary, secondary or special setting – this book is packed with ideas to enhance your practice so you can best support children’s learning, while looking out for your own well-being and enjoying your role.

You can dip in for top tips, anecdotes, practical strategies and advice on every aspect of the role, as well as have a chuckle as you go. For example, did you know there is a patron saint for just about everything? There is even a patron saint of failures, Birgitta of Sweden, who presumably failed to impress Ofsted on more than one occasion. If you scour the list you’ll find that every occupation has a nominated guardian looking after their well-being. That is, except one – classroom assistants. So, if there’s nobody ‘up there’ cheering you on, you might need to find the resources within yourself – and Andy, Chris and Gary can help. Because, let’s face it, working with youngsters isn’t for the fainthearted, is it? What do you do if you are sworn at? How do you engage a reluctant learner? What about safeguarding? How do you support children with SEND? How do you handle a challenging parent? How can you develop your career further? These topics, and a whole raft more, are woven into this book which will set you on the road to brilliance!

It doesn’t matter whether it’s inspiration or new ideas you want – this book has a plethora of both. It may challenge your thinking, it may persuade you to do something different, and above all it will put you in serious danger of being brilliant at what you do. There’s nothing more important or vital than the education and development of our youngsters: the mission of the Art of Being Brilliant series is to help all educators unlock their brilliance.

The Art of Being Brilliant series was a finalist in the 2017 Education Resources Awards in the Educational Book Award category.

Picture for author Andy Cope

Andy Cope

Andy Cope is the author of the famous Spy Dog books, a trainer and keynote speaker. He is an expert in positive psychology and happiness, which led him to develop The Art of Being Brilliant. This is delivered in various forms as workshops for businesses, conferences, teachers and teenagers. It has also informed the thinking behind his brilliant books.

Click here to listen in on Andy's podcast with Pivotal Education - 'Being Brilliant!'.

Picture for author Chris Henley

Chris Henley

Chris Henley is a trainer and keynote speaker who taught for over thirty years in three different secondary schools. Chris is an inspirational teacher who moved on from leading an outstanding languages department to become a senior leader. As assistant head in charge of teaching and learning, he played a major role in two successful Ofsted inspections.

Picture for author Gary Toward

Gary Toward

Gary Toward is a trainer, keynote speaker and novelist who has previously taught in seven schools countrywide. He was head teacher of three schools in Leicestershire, during which time he co-led a pupil referral unit (PRU) out of special measures.


  1. In the world of education, nothing is easy. Indeed, year after year it seems to get harder, with more and more resources published declaring that they will help us to improve schools but rather just leave us feeling more and more inadequate. Therefore it was amazing to discover the Art of Being Brilliant resources, which enabled hard-working teachers and teaching assistants to focus on the important things in schools, using a clear, focused and fun approach. The Art of Being Brilliant series of books were a godsend to my busy workforce: letting them see how changing your mindset enables you to change your life and, more importantly, the lives of the children we are teaching. These resources have helped our school to develop a positive mindset and to recognise how everything that we do -˜creates the weather' in our classrooms. As a result of this attitude to learning, behaviour for learning and enjoyment of teaching has improved.

    It is important that teaching professionals, teaching assistants, and, most importantly, children recognise that they are brilliant in a world that can quickly become negative. By encouraging individuals to see their own brilliance we build resilience and enjoyment in education.

    I discovered these resources at the beginning of my headship three years ago and I credit much of the improvement in my school to the support they gave me, both through the authors' publications and consultancy. My school is located in a challenging area of the country where there is much deprivation and our school is the beacon of hope for our children. My staff recognise this and work to ensure that the difficulties the children face in their lives are addressed and that their impact is balanced with the successes they can achieve in school. To see them skipping into school each day, enthused by the challenges they face, is a joy to behold - and that is both staff and children. Brilliant!
  2. We have used the Art of Being Brilliant series to support and inspire both teaching and classroom support staff.  It is the positive approach based on experience that strikes a chord and makes the difference.
  3. This series is hugely innovative and hundreds of copies have been purchased and raved about by both trainee and newly qualified teachers during our collaborative work with the authors' consultancy company, Decisive Element. The resource is hugely energising and a positive tool for new and experienced teachers that feel overwhelmed.

    The impact of these resources has been hugely positive on learning and the work of the teacher in the classroom; lots of our members have reported back how effective the tips and tricks learned are and how they have used the resources to combat behaviour issues in particular.

    The titles support and enhance the everyday life and work of teachers, pupils and schools by using tried-and-tested techniques that enable teachers to engage with pupils in a positive, understanding way which is at all times enjoyable!

    This resource is absolutely priceless and has helped hundreds of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' (ATL) members develop in their teaching practice!
  4. Many colleagues in my school have purchased copies of these titles, depending on their roles and responsibilities, and along with the support of the authors we have developed a positivity approach with our students, which has had a very positive impact on behaviour and results. 

    However, I would like to comment specifically on what has happened in my department and how these books have helped during a major transition.

    The first and most important thing to point out is that these books are not textbooks. They're not stuffy or filled full of pedagogical theories and studies. Teachers and support staff are busy people with lots of pressures so it's a breath of fresh air to have books which are easy to read, are packed with tips and strategies that work and also lift the spirits with a few laughs. Because of this, they are both readable and useful. Some staff have dipped in to them when looking for new ideas, others have read them cover to cover. All have found them easy to read and engaging. 

    There's a superb theme that runs through the books: that of relationships. I have used the ideas presented both within my teaching to get the best out of my students (The Art of Being a Brilliant Teacher) and in leading my staff to collectively become an outstanding department commended highly by both Ofsted and Her Majesty's Inspectors during recent inspections (The Art of Being a Brilliant Middle Leader). The idea that we all have to try to be our best - ultimately for the benefit of our students - is a great theme for staff.

    What's key here is that these books are about the pupils, not the teachers or support staff. They might have roles in their titles, but it is very clear that by being brilliant at what you do - whatever your role - the school's pupils get a better deal, and that has enabled my staff to help our students achieve better outcomes. Behaviour and engagement in learning have been crucial areas to get right in our development as both a school and a department, and the tips and strategies given in this series of books have helped this process.

    As a leader I can spend hours talking to staff about the direction and vision I have for my department, however it also helps to have an extra voice; and in this case the voice is from two teachers and school leaders with huge experience (Gary Toward and Chris Henley). This, coupled with Andy Cope's positive psychology spin, really creates a recipe which helps me as a leader to get the best out of my staff. Great CPD and inspiration.

    I have recommended these books to colleagues in other schools and will continue to do so as they stand out for me as easily accessible and inspirational CPD. The fact that the books can be supported with additional programmes and strategies, both with teachers and students, adds that extra factor which really does make a difference for kids.
  5. I have immensely enjoyed reading the Art of Being Brilliant series: a fantastic set of resources for anyone working within the modern classroom. Engaging and challenging, these pocket-sized 'bibles' distil decades of combined experience and expertise into manageable chunks of advice and direction. Written in a straightforward and relaxed style, the authors cut to the chase with practical illustrations and inspired suggestions to help classroom practitioners at all levels to 'be brilliant'. Delivered with trademark humour and passion, I can't think of a better resource for teachers of all levels to turn to for creative ideas, intelligent and helpful challenges, and affirmation of the power of teachers to really 'control the weather' in their classrooms and impact most effectively on the attitudes and learning of not just students but also colleagues. Indeed, many of our clients have bought these books and speak highly about how much they have helped them ... CPD in their pocket.

    These are everyday guides that can easily be dipped into with 'top tips' and key messages communicated well both visually and regularly throughout the books. More than just a 'back-to-basics' approach, there is real power in focusing on the small things that can have a massive impact on both teaching and learning. I have had the opportunity to experience the delivery of these ideas by the authors in practical workshop settings and have always been impressed with the power of the simple yet essential messages, the accessibility of the information, the unapologetic humour and, dare I say it, 'fun' involved. 

    A cost-effective resource that should enhance the everyday practice of anyone working within a classroom environment. At Hays we have bought hundreds of copies to give to our NQT clients as we know they will benefit so much from them.
  6. We have used the Art of Being Brilliant publications over the past few years at Glen Hills Primary School and Fairfield Primary School. Both teachers and classroom support staff have found the books inspirational - chiefly because they are realistic. They are written in an entertaining way but also deal with ways to enhance teaching and learning in practical situations. 

    The books have real meaning in 21st century education and the impact that they have on classroom teaching, with the underlying message of motivating pupils, makes them a cost-effective and inspirational resource which both teachers and classroom support staff have taken on board. 

    I know that the two schools where these books have been purchased for staff have benefited from the fresh and supportive approach that they advocate. This has helped maintain one school as 'Outstanding' and raise the other from being at risk of being placed in 'Serious Weaknesses' to an Ofsted grading of 'Good'.
  7. This is another excellent book in the Art of Being Brilliant series. It is particularly relevant as a practical resource for the developing group of classroom assistants, learning mentors, coaches and others working within classrooms and workshops to promote access, inclusion, participation and learning outcomes at a range of levels. As the authors point out, within many areas of education the classroom assistants are the unsung heroes and, on occasions, the under-valued members of a school/college community. In a really well structured text the authors have re-asserted the role of LSAs in making -˜the difference' for so many learners of all levels of ability.  

    This book is essential reading for all support staff to promote their effective practice and gain additional skills and insight on addressing key issues such as safeguarding, abuse, behaviour for learning, participation, engagement, feedback and recognition of progress.
  8. The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant is another new addition to the successful Art of Being Brilliant series. LSA, TA, HLTA, mentor, learning partner; the title doesn't matter but the quality of support given to young people does. This book, based on the authors combined 70 plus years of experience, is packed full of creative tips, techniques and strategies for anyone with the crucial role of supporting kids learning in the classroom.

    Like the rest of the series, you can dip in for inspiration, top tips, strategies and advice on every aspect of the role, as well as have a chuckle as you go. Working with youngsters isn't for the faint hearted, is it? What do you do if you are sworn at? How do you engage a reluctant learner? How do you handle a challenging parent? How can you develop your career further? These topics, and a whole raft more, are woven into this book which will set you on the road to brilliance!

    What we think?

    We have considered the value of classroom assistants during this previous #UKEdChat session, and having the right relationship within the classroom can make them a valuable asset: supporting the teaching and learning process. One problem for classroom assistants can be the lack of training they receive, and it's difficult for schools to find the time or funds to support such training needs. This can be even more frustrating when new initiatives are introduced into schools, or new legislative requirements are imposed.

    If you are a classroom assistant, or considering the role in a nearby school, then this book is a worthy read to help you get inspiration, confidence and ideas on supporting the classroom learning environment. The book is an easy read, and could be read in chunks, or easily in one long read, as well as being the talking point for many training sessions.

    With such books, it is easy for a patronising tone to come across, but Toward and his co-authors have managed to keep a humoured and friendly tone throughout, which should inspire all classroom assistants - whether they've been doing the job for 50 years, or those just stepping into the role. To be clear, this is not a book on how to manage your classroom assistant, but teachers may like to dip into various chapters and appreciate the world from that different point of view.

    You can read the review in full here.
  9. Teaching assistants are the unsung heroes of education. This book shines a light on the powerful impact that a brilliant TA can have on the lives of pupils, parents and colleagues: a must-read for any member of a learning support team who has a sparkle of brilliance about them.
  10. This book is a testament to all the hard work and dedication of these unsung heroes. Classroom assistants are an invaluable cog within schools with their hard work and dedication often going unrecognised or unrewarded; this book goes some way towards acknowledging and appreciating all the hard work that they do.

    There are some insightful and inspiring ideas, as well as some gentle reminders for all who work within education to maintain a positive outlook whilst demonstrating that learning is a true partnership.
  11. This magnificent book is a must-read for all adults who work in education. Written by Andy Cope, Chris Henley and Gary Toward, The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant expresses their feelings about how important a classroom assistant is in a school. As a teaching assistant I can reflect on my own experience throughout this marvellous book. There is plenty of humour packed in this wonderful book and I absolutely love the -˜Thinking inside the box' ideas included throughout: I can certainly use these at work.
  12. It's about time classroom assistants were recognised for their crucial role in our schools. A lot of work has been done to promote teachers and lift their spirits in a challenging political and work environment, but classroom assistants are the unsung army. This book makes a great effort to rectifying this. It strives to empower classroom assistants and champions their role. The book also gives positive, sound advice on how to give the best possible support to the children, and how to ensure that you personally enjoy your career. This should be dished out to every classroom assistant across the country!
  13. Schools are truly magical places - with staff and children learning and growing every day. This book captures how amazing classroom assistants are within that team. It is a must-read for all involved in the teaching profession as reminder of how lucky we are to have this fantastic group of people enhancing children's lives and learning on a daily basis. I am lucky enough to work with brilliant classroom assistants every day - this book has reminded me to appreciate that a little bit more! They may not have a patron saint but they do have thousands of thankful children (and teachers) across the country whose schooling is brilliant every day because they are there.
  14. Another brilliant book from Andy Cope et al. - extremely readable, very useful and enjoyable from start to finish. The book is divided into very useful chapters, and the top tips are great as reminders or for reviewing later. I will definitely be buying copies for school.
  15. This book includes every necessary step a classroom assistant needs to know and practice to -˜create that positive ripple' in the learning journey of students. A good book that lists the fundamental elements one should understand and follow in order to be a partner in the -˜endlessly fascinating game of chess that is education'. A good book that every school should have and every classroom assistant must read.
  16. The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant made me appreciate my role in school and understand how my attitude affects the children I work with. This is an extremely positive book, written by people who actually know how a school is run, with excellent advice given throughout. There are always new things to learn and I do feel that I've learnt a lot from this book - and it made me feel even more positive and enthusiastic about my job.
  17. A truly brilliant, inspirational book! This is a must-read for every classroom assistant in the land. You can make the difference for our children and this book will help you do so. It is packed full of positive ideas that will make a huge difference to your practice. Be the best, be the smartest, be the most upbeat and stand out for the right reasons. #TheBESTclassroomassistantintheworld
  18. In The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant Andy and his gang have identified the priceless treasures that are the classroom assistants in our schools. Full of nuggets and gems this book will make a proper difference and make their brilliance sparkle! Awesome.
  19. The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant is a brilliant book that sums up how, as a classroom assistant, you can add sparkle to the classroom, influence the rest of the school and be pivotal in touching and changing the lives of children and young people.

    It is easy to lose sight of the ultimate aims and goals classroom assistants should be striving for. This book helps them refocus on the important stuff - stuff that really matters to children, that enables children to flourish and feel valued; fundamental foundations needed before learning can take place.
    A must-read not only for new classrooms assistants but also for ones who have been in the role for much longer, who may be feeling undervalued or that they have lost sight of the importance of their role. Contains both witty and thought-provoking scenarios based on the authors' experiences to illustrate key points, making it an easy and most enjoyable read.
  20. I absolutely love this book: it is a must for all teaching assistants to have! It's full of brilliance, with lots of tips and knowledge. There are fantastic tips and pick-me-ups for a quick pat on the back or boost of confidence, and the illustrations are funny and appropriate to the book -they'll put a smile on your face at those hectic times!
  21. I enjoyed reading this book. I have been a TA/HLTA for over 20 years. Sometimes you feel bogged down and stale with all the targets and paper work that is involved with teaching. This book brought back memories and ideas that refreshed my enthusiasm, which I can share with the children.
  22. The Art of Being a Brilliant Classroom Assistant was such a delightful and easy read that I couldn't put it down. As I was reading it, I was thinking that this is why I followed my heart into this career. I loved the tips at the end of the chapters; I loved the pictures in the book, they added to the light heartedness. The book reinforced that what I am doing is important. For new classroom assistants the tips are invaluable; it is a book that you can pick up every couple of months if you need a nudge when things get tough. For me, as an experienced classroom assistant, it was a quick reference to keep doing what I am doing. I will be reading this book every few months to refocus.
  23. Yet again, the authors manage to make the complicated simple and fun. They enable all of us to keep the passion that led us to do these jobs and to make it make sense in the real world. A triumph, as ever!

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