What might it be like to work as a writer for an online digest or newsletter? Twinkl Teaching Assistants Digest Content Writer, Hannah Harris, walks us through her typical work day in this ‘Day in the life of’ article.

What is TA Digest?

In September 2021, Twinkl launched Digest, a new update service for educators. The aim of Twinkl Digest for Teaching Assistants (known as TA Digest) is to provide TAs, Learning Support Assistants (LSAs) and Higher-Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) with the latest information about the educational landscape and how this directly impacts them.

TA Digest follows the latest educational changes and ‘digests’ them into time-saving chunks, so the daily articles must meet the needs of all TAs and offer the most support. With a growing backlog of over 300 free-to-access articles, TA Digest reflects on the latest educational updates and gives TAs solutions they can quickly implement in the classroom.

An average day at TA Digest HQ

Starting work

My working day typically starts around 7.45 am, but it can sometimes be earlier depending on what is happening in the world.

Getting up to date

The first thing I do is just that: check what is going on that TAs need to know about. This includes:

  • checking our Twinkl Digest RSS feed that contains the latest publications from places like the Department for Education or union press releases
  • checking other sources of information such as Twitter or Google to see what’s trending
  • checking my emails – most breaking news is sent to my email either directly from the source or as a Google News alert.

I also use this time to check my ‘Daily reads data’ to see which articles are gaining attention and which are not. This feeds into plans for resharing articles or deciding on topics to write about.

Gathering ideas

Next, I check my diary to see what planned events are happening where education could be discussed. For example, knowing if the education committee is meeting or knowing that on Wednesdays it is PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions). Having a complete overview of the day means I can pick which story or article I will publish. I typically try to plan out my week in advance so I know what I might expect to publish, keeping in mind that both in education and the media, things can change very quickly, so flexibility is key. As a writer, I have a backlog of non-time-specific stories that can be published at any date or time and some that link to specific dates or events.

Morning meeting

At 9 am every morning, the whole Digest team meets for our morning editorial meeting, where we discuss the articles that will be published. We talk about recently published reports or things our readers might like to know about. It is also an opportunity to collaborate with the writers and tap into their experiences. Once our ideas have been ‘signed off’, it’s time to write.

Writing the article

Writing every article is a unique experience. Some come together in minutes, while others take many hours. Writing an article starts from an idea or spark of inspiration – whether it’s a newly published report, a statistic in a study or a tweet between educators. After the initial idea, comes the researching and writing part of my day.

Editing

Once the article is finished, it’s time to proofread and edit it. When I am happy with the finished draft, I send it off to one of my Digest colleagues for editing and then I begin to edit their article in return. I always gain inspiration from editing a colleague’s work. I look at the structure of their article, ensure all spelling and grammatical elements are correct and check that their sources are accurate.

Publishing

When my final article draft is returned to me, it is time to get ready to publish. Even after publishing nearly 350 articles, it is still such an exciting time, and sometimes, I still can’t believe I get to write for a living! I upload the finished article onto the Twinkl Digest platform and then my editor will do the final checks and I do the same for theirs.

Meeting the Twinkl TA team

By mid-afternoon, it is time to meet with the TA team. Although I only typically meet them twice a week, we chat and share ideas all day, every day. In the meeting, we discuss the projects they are working on and their priorities, in addition to what is going on in the education world and any updates I can give on upcoming TA Digest articles. The TA team is always on hand to offer ideas, suggestions and share contacts for potential interviews that would be interesting for TAs. I am grateful to have the support of such wonderful colleagues who are passionate about ensuring TAs, LSAs and HLTAs are as supported as they can be. Having never worked as a teaching assistant myself, their insight has been invaluable to me.

Marketing

Once final checks are done and the article is published, it is time to start sharing it widely. Marketing is one of my favourite parts of my job, as I love interacting with the Teaching Assistant community online. I typically share my articles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Articles are also shared on the Twinkl TA team’s social media channels.

Finishing for the day

A typical day finishes around 5.30 pm. Before I log off, I always do a final check of news sources and social media for any breaking news or inspiration for tomorrow’s article. Working remotely at Twinkl, our time is fairly flexible, so often I find myself spending a few hours a week in the evening chatting on social media about articles or pets.

 

I like to show the TA community I am a real person – not just a robot generating articles for them to read!

Throughout the day

While the structure of my day remains mainly consistent, the things I do between these tasks can differ daily, such as:

  • Keeping up to date with the latest news and publications: Often news will break in the middle of the day or afternoon and I’ll have to quickly put together an article on it. I love working on fast-turnaround pieces and feeling the adrenaline rush!
  • Conducting or planning interviews: Another favourite part of my job is the vast amount of people I get to speak to. TA Digest has a feature called ‘Ask the Experts’ where I frequently interview experts in different fields to share their advice and experience with TAs. I also do a ‘TA Voice’ series where I speak to teaching assistants with different hobbies and interests.
  • In-depth research: Wednesday articles at TA Digest are workshops based around a specific theme, usually that are requests from the TA community. These pieces are generally a little longer and more in-depth CPD than a general TA Digest, so require more time to prepare. I am always happy to take suggestions on upcoming themes!

How can you get involved?

TA Digest is something I am incredibly proud to be a part of. My social media and email inboxes are always open, and I am happy to chat with TAs about ideas for articles or their experiences in school.

 

I love writing for the hardworking TAs, LSAs and HLTAs who are the glue holding schools together.

For teachers and senior leaders, signposting the support staff in your setting to TA Digest can be a great way to show you appreciate and value their CPD. There are also Digests for many other educators, including SLT, KS1 teachers, KS2 teachers, SEND practitioners and parents.

 

Author

  • Hannah Harris

    Hannah is the lead writer and editor at TA Digest reporting the latest edu-news and updates for TAs, LSAs and HLTAs. She is passionate about professionalising the TA role and is a champion of the role within the education community. Hannah has 12 years of classroom experience, 8 as a teacher. She taught in England, America and Belgium.
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