It is the teacher’s responsibility to diagnose learning needs and prepare materials and lessons. The teacher directs the work of all the other adults in the classroom.

Educational Assistants

Regulations of The Public Schools Act stipulate that educational assistants “shall perform duties as the principal assigns to him or her”, but those duties shall not include:

  • the organization and management of the classroom
  • the planning of teaching strategies or
  • the direction of learning experiences including the assessment of individual needs of the pupils

Educational assistants and community volunteers:

  • Ensure that tasks you ask assistants and volunteers to do are within school board and MTS policies
  • Stress that absolute confidentiality is to be maintained at all times
  • Define and clarify roles
  • Aim to develop a climate of trust
  • Provide support and encouragement

More information can be found in the handbook Teachers and Educational Assistants: Roles and Responsibilities available in the MTS Library section of this website.


Parents and other volunteers often assist with a wide variety of tasks that need to be done every day.

Volunteers wish to be accepted as part of the team, but remember that, as the teacher, you are the team leader. Careful preparation and organization on your part will result in a worthwhile and meaningful experience for the volunteer. Teaching is a very demanding and occasionally an extra person in the classroom can be an additional burden for a first-year teacher. So, when you feel comfortable, invite volunteers to come in for short stints to do specific tasks.

Planning is the key to success. Be certain to involve the principal in any planning before you invite volunteers. Arrange for an orientation session where you can match the skills and interests of the volunteer with tasks that need to be done. Remind volunteers that, although they might be qualified to perform certain tasks, it may actually contravene division or MTS provincial policy for them to do so. Also, it is most important to stress that absolute confidentiality must be maintained.

Preparing for a Substitute Teacher

Students should be aware of your expectations for behaviour when a substitute teacher is in charge of the class. You may want to inform your students ahead of time that you will be absent. If possible, preview the coming day’s assignments. This preparation demonstrates to them your confidence that they can handle your not being there.

You are responsible for preparing the information folder for the substitute teacher

Prepare an information folder that will help organize a successful day for both the substitute and the students with:

  • Class list with phone numbers
  • Class rules, expectations and responsibilities
  • Collection of some interesting supplementary material that the substitute could use as additional resource material
  • Daily and weekly timetable, showing class times
  • Homework assignments and policy
  • Information about students with special needs
  • List of classroom routines, procedures

Show you appreciate your substitute teacher:

  • Before your absence, speak to the substitute teacher to communicate your expectations and to share information about any extraordinary circumstances they should be aware of.
  • Following your absence, contact your substitute teacher to talk about what was accomplished and to acknowledge their special role in the teaching profession. When you return, also ask the students and the “buddy” teacher how the day went. Follow up on any disciplinary events and then put the day behind you and begin anew. Remember, you do not have control over what the substitute does or does not do.

Resource Teacher and Guidance Counsellor

Plan to meet with each of these colleagues early in the year to discuss how you can work together. They may have information or advice to assist you in your work with students. Each of them can provide information about their programs and services for students. Ask about services being provided to individual students in your class.

Educational Psychologists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Social Workers and Reading Clinicians

Ask your principal to provide you with information concerning which of your students have been working with specialists. It is important to find out about how to refer other students for assessment and assistance and about services available for students who may need them.


A principal and vice-principal are important parts of your support network. Don’t wait for them to ask you how things are going let them know. Use their assistance to gain a broader understanding of school operation.

Librarian/Library Technician

A librarian not only looks after a collection of library materials but can also assist you with research-based projects. Familiarize yourself with using the library effectively. A librarian may also assist with ordering student and teacher resource materials.

School Secretary

Requests made of you by the school secretary are probably for information required by the principal or by the school division. Your working relationships may be enhanced by being prompt in responding to these requests. Ask your principal about which secretarial services might be available for teachers.

Custodial Staff

Ask the principal about the custodial staff responsibilities. Introduce yourself and discuss ways in which you can work together to keep your classroom a pleasant place. Aim to assist students in taking responsibility for keeping the classroom tidy.