By Melanie Ullman
A teacher’s aide, sometimes referred to as teacher assistants or instructional aides, provides teaching and general clerical support for the teacher in the classroom, allowing them more time or teaching, lesson planning, and other activities. Their role is to assist children in learning and support them in using the class materials, following lesson plans, and offering increased individualized attention.
In addition, a teacher’s aide might help scoring grades, setting up equipment, supervising students in the school yard, hallways, or cafeteria, as well as on field trips. Some teachers aides will also help prepare the class materials being used for instruction.
Teachers aides are also being utilized more and more with Special Education, or special-ed students. And with greater integration in the classroom, teacher assistants are increasingly relied on in assisting students who have disabilities. While the primary teacher is mainly responsible for the educational aspects, this provides the aides the opportunity to offer increased personal attention to students who might need extra or remedial education, or other special needs such as those for whom English is their second language.
A teacher assistant can find themselves working in a wide range and variety of workplaces including day care facilities and child care centers, community centers, religious schools, and preschools. The majority of them however work primarily in the elementary school, middle school, and secondary school classrooms.
Many teachers aides fulfill these positions in a part-time capacity, working during the school day and following the district’s regular nine or 10 month school year.
In many situations, the only requirement to become a teacher’s aide is a high school diploma, with additional training coming from hands-on activity. It should be noted however that many schools and particularly day care centers are requiring background criminal checks and sometimes a valid state drivers license or identification.
Becoming a teacher’s aide can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling career choices you can make. It is an area where your efforts and personality truly make a difference, not just in a child’s day to day life, but in their actual development, and as a result can have lasting impact throughout their lives.
To be an effective teacher’s aide, you should of course enjoy working with children. You must also have a great deal of patience, and the willingness and ability to follow the teachers directions. Communications skills, empathy, and a general desire work with and help kids should be part of your makeup.
The general outlook for job prospects and opportunities are very favorable. While demand varies from state to state and by region, areas in which school enrollments and population is growing is obviously quite high. Pay scales very in different parts of the country, but generally increase in proportion to education, general experience, and time on the job.
If you are looking for a career that you can enter easily but that offers a truly fulfilling and rewarding experience, becoming a teacher’s aide might be the best thing you have ever done.