Teacher Assistant

How to Become a Teacher Assistant
Teacher Assistant Job Duties
Skills and Qualities of Teacher Assistants
Teacher Assistant Salaries
Influential Professionals in the Teacher Assistant Field
Leading Teacher Assistant Organizations
Top Cities for Teacher Assistant Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become a Teacher Assistant

Education and requirements for teaching assistants differ from state to state. Some require only a high school diploma while others demand some college education. Either way, a career as a teaching assistant is a usually easy goal to reach for most. School districts are always in need of an extra helping hand and in 2006 teaching assistants made up over 1.3 million U.S. jobs.

Employers look for applicants who have had at least two years of post secondary education, have had experience working with special needs children, and can speak a foreign language.

Teaching assistants are also referred to as teacher aides or instructional aides.

What does a Teacher Assistant do?

Teaching assistants help out in the classroom, giving the teacher more time to focus on teaching and coming up with lesson plans. Basically they make sure that the classroom maintains order and that the students are learning as much as they possibly can. They help students in making sure that they receive individual attention and maximize their learning potential.

Often teaching assistants supervise students in the cafeteria, outside areas, hallways, and on field trips. They aid teachers by helping to set up equipment, recording grades, and preparing materials for a lesson.

Some teaching assistants don't always have to work in a classroom. Many work exclusively outside the classroom and perform non instructional and clerical tasks. For example you can work as a playground or lunchroom aid. Others may grade tests, check homework, keep health and attendance records, do typing and filing, and duplicate materials. Most teaching assistants do a combination of both instructional and clerical duties. Assistants often work with students one on one or in small groups. They listen to children read, reinforce class lessons, and help students find information for reports they may have to do.

In junior high and high school, teacher's assistants usually specialize in a certain subject because in these grade levels classes are divided by subject. They often are left in charge of special projects and prepare equipment or exhibits. Other assistants work in computer labs as computer aides and help children to use computers and educational software.

Many assistants specialize in working with special needs students. Schools are becoming more and more crowded and many classrooms are beginning to integrate special needs kids into normal classrooms. In this case teaching assistants accompany their students from class to class providing them with individual attention in order to best fit their needs. They help these students with eating, teaching them good grooming habits, and assisting them on and off the school bus. Assistants monitor their special needs students in order to asses the progress that they are making and what can be done to help them even more.

What skills or qualities do I need to become a Teacher Assistant?

Different states require different backgrounds when hiring teaching assistants. Some ask only that you have a high school diploma, while others require college education. Most do favor applicants who have had some college training in related subject matter.

Many colleges offer specialized two year degrees that are catered towards those who wish to begin work as a teacher's assistant. All teaching assistants will experience on the job training. Depending on what subject, teacher, or school district you are working with you will need to be trained in order to best aid those that you will be working with. For example: for those that are going to be tutoring students, the teacher must go over the goal of the lessons so that children will be kept on the right track. Teacher's assistants must be shown how to understand the class materials and instructional methods used by the teacher.

Some school districts may require that you have previous experience working with children, have a valid driver's license, or that you submit to a background check. It is very important that teacher's assistants are patient, passionate, and love helping children. Assistants must be willing to follow the teacher's instructions and to be able to work with different kinds of children from all different cultures and backgrounds. They must have great communication skills and those that speak a second language are in especially high demand.

In order to advance in this field a teaching assistant needs work experience and higher education. In some school districts assistants are allowed time off and are provided tuition reimbursement for earning Bachelor's degrees.

How much does a Teacher Assistant make?

As of May 2006 the average earnings for teacher's assistants was $20,740 per year and most earned between $16,430 and $26,160 per year.

A benefit to working in this field is that all school districts offer health insurance and other benefits. Three out of ten assistants were a part of a union in 2006. Being part of a union can help you get better wages, hours, and conditions of employment.

Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Teacher's assistants have so many people that they can look to for inspiration and guidance. They can even look to their own teacher whom they assist for ideas in how they can best help their students.

In the early 20th century Maria Montessori came up with an educational method for children, based on theories of child development. The method focused on self directed activity by the student. By observing the student teachers can gain a sense of what interests them and how they can best teach them. For instance, some children learn best with the help of visual aides, while others learn through physical activity.

In the 1960s James Coleman headed a study on educational equality in the U.S. He along with several others observed how students of different backgrounds and cultures were treated in the education system. The results of his study greatly affected the ways in which schools are run today.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Federation of Teachers was founded in 1916 to represent the economic, social and professional interests of classroom teachers.

The National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals addresses policy questions and other needs of the field, provide technical assistance and share information about policy questions, management practices, regulatory procedures, and training models that will enable administrators and staff-developers to improve the recruitment, deployment, supervision, and career development of paraprofessionals.

What are the top cities for Teacher Assistant jobs?

Teaching assistants are needed through out the U.S., and with the population growing and more and more students in schools more assistants will be needed in the future. As of today the cities with the highest demand are Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

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