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What does a Teacher Assistant do?

Teacher assistants perform many teaching and administrative chores under direct supervision of teachers. Depending on their assignments, teaching assistants may assist students with specific subjects, or may guide students in a variety of activities related to multiple subjects.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that job prospects for teacher assistants is expected to be good. These assistant positions provide work experiences for aspiring teachers and educational administrators. Approximately 40 percent of these professionals work part-time, which accommodates educating majors seeking work experience.

Teaching assistant jobs: a gateway to careers in education

Teacher assistants quickly gain real-life classroom experience. They work directly with students and may also assist teachers with group projects and lessons requiring one-on-one assistance. They can also assist with administrative duties such as taking attendance, monitoring and ordering classroom supplies, and grading and distributing completed assignments.

Teacher assistants are responsible for conducting and participating in classroom activities according to the teacher's lesson plans and instructions. During times when classes are not in session, such as recess and lunch periods, they may supervise students on school grounds and in school cafeterias.

Teacher assistants are expected to know their school's safety policies and evacuation procedures. They may be assigned responsibility for one or more students during fire drills or actual school evacuations.

Teacher assistant jobs provide aspiring teachers with observational and practical classroom experience. Working as a teaching assistant is useful for determining if you have the personality and dedication required for working with students and motivating them to learn.

Teacher assistants in secondary schools may specialize in a single subject. Other opportunities for specializing as an assistant include working in English as a second language (ESL) classes and special education classes and resource rooms.

Becoming a teaching assistant

Teacher assistants generally have a minimum of two years of post-secondary education. Recommended courses include:
  • Human development
  • Curriculum and instruction
  • Child psychology
  • Teaching and learning methods
The BLS notes that teacher assistants specializing in special education and those fluent in multiple languages have the most job opportunities.

Teacher assistants must be patient, kind, and enjoy children. Excellent verbal and written communication skills are useful for managing classrooms and teaching students.

Doing the math: earning expectations for teacher assistants

The highest paying job categories for teacher assistants include:
  • State governments (public school districts)
  • Junior (Community) Colleges
  • Specialty hospitals (except for psychiatric and substance abuse)
Full-time teacher assistants may be eligible for full benefits including health coverage and retirement benefits. Have you learned enough to jump-start your teacher assistant career? Discuss your career plans and educational needs with an admissions counselor today.

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