How Do I Become a Teacher Aide?

If you like working with children but don’t necessarily want the sole responsibility of developing lesson plans and managing a classroom on your own, you might wonder how to become a teacher aide. Teacher aides work directly with students in the classroom under the guidance of teachers. They assist with educational lessons and projects and help teachers monitor student behavior. Teacher aides are sometimes referred to as instructional aides or teacher assistants.

At the preschool, elementary and secondary school levels, education involves social and behavioral development as well as academic development. Managing and instructing an entire class can be a difficult job for one person, particularly when the class is composed of very young students or students with special needs. Teacher aides provide support for teachers and students. They review course material with students who need additional attention. They assist teachers in preparing for projects, assignments and educational experiences. While preparing lesson plans and grading assignments are often part of a teacher’s job responsibilities, teacher aides may help develop educational plans and projects and assist with student evaluations. Teacher aides help teachers oversee students during class, mealtimes and playtimes and assist with rule enforcement.

The path to becoming a teacher aide varies based on the requirements of the state and school district in which the candidate intends to work and specific requirements for individual positions. For example, some school districts will hire teacher aides whose highest level of education is a high school diploma. In some states, these candidates do not have to complete any additional formal education requirements, but they must pass an examination. Other states require the completion of at least two years of college coursework, and still others will only consider candidates who have already earned a two-year associate’s degree from a college.

Associate’s degree programs for teacher aides often cover topics such as monitoring students, working productively with teachers and producing classroom materials. For positions working with special education students, either one-on-one, in small groups or in a classroom setting, teacher aides have to complete a special examination to evaluate their skills. On-the-job training assisted by unions, professional associations, school district administrators and teachers is common in preparing teacher aides for their work in the classroom.

Teacher aides earn a median salary of $23,220 per year. More than one-third of teacher aides have the freedom to work part-time. Even full-time teacher aides in public schools enjoy summers and holidays off. Teacher aides often work with the students who need additional help most, such as very young children in preschool and kindergarten or special education students at any grade level. They have the opportunity to be a significant influence on their students’ academic, social and behavioral development. If you have a lot of patience, work well with children and have the leadership and instructional skills to help manage a classroom, knowing how to become a teacher aide could be the start of a fulfilling new career in the education system.

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