Teacher Assistants are individuals who provide support to the lead instructor and to students in an appropriate manner that improves the overall quality of education in the classroom. Other related job titles include: teacher aides, assistant teachers, instructional aides, teacher paraprofessionals, para-educators, instructional assistants, and classroom assistants. They work primarily in schools, under the direction of school supervisors and/or state certified teachers. Thus, allowing teachers more time for lesson planning, teaching, and giving students any necessary individual attention.
It is important to understand that becoming a teacher assistant is far from being a menial supportive staff job; on the contrary, they are vital elements in the field of education. Individuals who can demonstrate a high level of knowledge in a specific subject area (such as art, math, or literacy) will make desirable candidates for employment. However, requirements to become a teacher assistant vary by state and sometimes school district. In most cases, you must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED and previous experience working with children. Some college level courses in education, an associate or bachelor’s degree can also be required. As teacher assistants gain more work experience and with the proper training and certifications they can move further in their career by substitute teaching or even run their own classroom and become a certified teacher.
Teacher assistants work mainly in elementary, middle and high schools. Likewise, it is also very common to find them in other school related settings such as childcare facilities, learning centers, and after school programs. Teacher assistants work full-time and part-time during the school year with federal holidays and school breaks used as their days off from work. However, summer school and tutoring programs gives them more opportunities to find jobs when school is out. Their work environment requires constant interaction with children so it is important that teacher assistants are viewed as positive role models. In addition a lot of patience and a friendly attitude are definite qualities one should constantly display while working in this field.
Employment opportunities continue to be on the rise in this profession especially in early childhood learning centers and special education schools. School enrollments are steadily increasing among special education students and students who speak English as a second language. So expect an increase of teacher assistant positions in schools looking to address that fact. Moreover, the federal and state governments have shifted their attention on education quality and accountability now more than ever As a result, the need for teacher assistants will continue to increase to help teachers prepare students for taking and passing state mandated standardized testing.
How Much Do Teacher Assistants Earn?
According to the U.S Department of Labor Bureau of Labor of Statistics teacher assistants earned a median salary of $22,200. The middle 50% earned $17,610 to $28,180, the lowest 10% earned less than $15,340 and the highest 10% earned more than 33,980. Keep in mind that this median range includes both full-time and part-time teacher assistants and about 40% of teacher assistants work part-time. Ultimately, your earnings as a teacher assistant will vary depending on your employer, your qualifications, your experience related to the job, whether you work part-time/full-time, etc.
Roles & Responsibilities of Being a Teacher Assistant
In most cases, their role usually involves completing tasks set by the classroom teacher but this can vary depending on the needs of the school, and students. For example, some teacher assistants are needed in Title I schools to work with students one on one or in small groups. Similarly, those that qualify can provide instructional support using an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for students with disabilities. They also give personal attention to students with other special needs, for example, children who speak English as a second language can use a teacher assistant to act as a translator.
Instructional support is one way to fulfill this role. To ensure that students grasp lesson objectives, teacher assistants reinforce these ideas to students by reviewing the course material and helping them with class work assignments. They also encourage students to work independently but also to have class participation and interaction with other students. Some teacher assistants perform weekly or monthly student observations. This involves monitoring student’s academic, cooperative and behavioral performance, then reporting the student’s progress to the teacher. Teacher assistants who offer instructional support should be able to demonstrate proficiency in the subject being taught to students. Furthermore, those with the proper qualifications or teaching credentials can perform certain duties reserved for certified teachers such as teaching the class in the absence of a teacher (substitute teaching) and grading assignments.
Non-instructional supportis also needed in the classroom because teacher assistants often perform clerical duties and tasks for classroom maintenance. For example, they may have to update bulletin boards, take attendance, distribute and collect assignments and prepare other classroom related material. Some light cleaning may also be involved in order to maintain a neat and orderly classroom environment. Supervising students not only inside but also outside the classroom is a very important role; that includes monitoring hallways, lunchrooms, playground areas and as they board and leave school buses.
Most teacher assistants perform some instructional work along with non-instructional duties. Although actual duties can be varied and widespread an idea of typical responsibilities could include the following:
* Help teacher prepare materials and assignments for instruction
* Enforce school policies and rules
* Perform clerical duties as assigned
* Supervise students in and out of the classroom
* Keep classroom neat and in order
* Observe, and assess student’s performance/progress
* Be able to effectively communicate with students, teacher and in some cases parents
* Provide individual assistance to students experiencing learning difficulty; explain errors answer questions, assist in research, clarify directions
* Participate in meetings and in-service training programs as assigned.
* Assist students by providing general guidance.
Being A Teacher Assistant — A Rewarding Career!
Whether you choose this career because you love working with children, or you want to challenge yourself by working in this environment, you will certainly add value to the classroom with what you have to offer. Teacher assistants have the opportunity to really make an impact on the lives of students because they spend so much time with them. For this reason, teacher assistants can be very influential to students sometimes in ways that the teacher cannot. Now that you know have a clear understanding about being a teacher assistant, is it the right career move for you? If so, take on the chance to make an impact in the classroom and become a teacher assistant!