How to Become a Teacher Assistant

If you communicate well and enjoy working with children, you might wonder how to become a teacher assistant. In classrooms of public and private schools, teachers of elementary, middle and high school students spend have to balance several responsibilities. They must instruct a full class of students, enforce rules and monitor academic achievement. Teacher assistants play an important role in helping teachers manage the classroom and ensuring that every student gets the attention and instruction necessary for academic success.

The job titles ‘teacher aide’ and ‘instructional aide’ are used interchangeably to refer to teacher assistants. As the job title implies, teacher assistants typically support a teacher by helping with lesson preparation, classroom instruction, record keeping and behavioral supervision. Before class sessions, teacher assistants may be called on to organize the classroom materials necessary for the lesson and assemble and operate technical equipment like projectors. While teachers usually present lectures or lessons, teacher assistants may help individual students or small groups of students understand the information. They may take part in interactive lessons inside the classroom and support teachers in maintaining order and giving instructions. Some teacher assistants help teachers evaluate academic success by grading assignments. Like teachers, teacher assistants also watch for problematic or disruptive behavior during class or during any downtime in the school day and make sure that school rules are followed at all times.

Teacher assistants find employment in public and private schools, working with students of all age groups. Some teacher assistants work in day care centers or in other organizations within the community. These education workers are commonly found special education classrooms even at higher grade levels. Teacher assistants may work with an entire class of students, especially in lower grade levels, or they may work one-on-one with students who have special needs. Alternatively, a teacher assistant may work in a designated area of the school. For example, library and computer labs may have their own teacher assistants who assist students with performing research for projects.

The educational requirements for beginning a career as a teacher assistant vary not only by state, but by individual school district. In some school districts, aspiring teacher assistants can secure a position without pursuing any higher level of education than a high school diploma. They may, however, have to take an examination to demonstrate their proficiency. In a number of districts, employers are now seeking candidates who have earned an associate’s degree from a two-year college or other institution.

Teacher assistants earn a median salary of $23,220 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In addition to the satisfaction of helping students learn and grow academically, teacher assistants often work enjoyable hours, finishing work earlier than many employees in the private sector and typically including summers off. If you are a patient person, like working with children and enjoy the classroom setting, knowing how to become a teacher assistant could be the start of a rewarding new career.

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