Do you have the desire to work in the educational industry but you don’t really think being a teacher is for you? Or, maybe you think you may want to be a teacher but you would rather pursue a quicker career path that will allow you to gain some experience first. Perhaps you should consider obtaining the necessary education to become a teacher assistant. It is common for a teacher’s assistant (sometimes called a paraeducator) to work alongside kindergarten teachers, preschool teachers, special education teachers, or teachers with classes that have significant behavior problems. Earn your certificate and start your teacher's aide training.
As an assistant you will be responsible for helping the primary teacher with any tasks that will help make his or her job easier. For instance, you may be asked to work with small groups of children, to make copies, or to put papers into students’ folders, among other tasks. Keep in mind, your specific responsibilities will likely vary depending upon the classroom setting, the particular teacher you are assigned to, or the type of school you are employed by. It is typical for schools to require that teacher’s assistants have some sort of post-secondary education and some relevant experience with children. Get your teachers assistant training started today! In order to be qualified to work as a teacher’s assistant you will need to complete a few requirements. However, it is important to note that the actual requirements vary from one state to another, so you may want to check into what is required by your state of residence. The first thing you will want to do is obtain your associate’s degree with a concentration in early childhood education. While not all states require that you have completed this degree program before you can be hired, if you have not completed it you can expect that this will be required during your first two years of employment. After you have completed your associate’s degree program you will also need to obtain your certification to work in this capacity. This will likely consist of you earning a passing score on an examination and completing specific workshop hours. The school system that employs you will also require you to pass a background check; this is meant to ensure that the students will be safe in your care. Of course, should you decide to further your level of education, the work you have completed during your associate's degree program should apply towards the requirements of your bachelor’s degree program. Take a moment and request a free information packet from any of the schools on our site that interest you. With your training as a teacher’s assistant, some school districts may be willing to hire you as a preschool teacher. In addition, your background would make it feasible for you to work in a daycare facility. Research any of the teacher’s assistant schools below.
Do you have a passion for helping kids reach their potential? The quickest way to start making a difference in the lives of kids everywhere is to start working as a teacher’s assistant/teacher’s aide.
Unlike most careers in education, teacher’s assistants can often excel in their career with little to zero undergraduate work, making the field very accessible to anyone with a caring heart and a desire to help the next generation grow.
What Does a Teacher’s Assistant Do?
A classroom full of young ones can be a bit of a handful for one individual to take on alone. Kids can be in need of mothering a bit even into high school, but the young ones especially can get into trouble if they don’t have plenty of extra eyes on staff to help monitor!
Typically, a teacher’s assistant will do whatever needs to be done to help the teacher they work under be free to teach effectively.
Because there are only so many hours in the school day, the assistance TA’s give to classroom teachers in this capacity is quite invaluable.
There is much variety in the day-to-day work of a teacher assistant. As varied as each day can be in a school setting, you might imagine that the work of those on site can vary as well! And in order for a teacher to be able to impart to her students all of the important information students need to learn to grow, that teacher often needs a helping hand so that the sharing of theories and knowledge does not get bogged down.
A teacher’s assistant may be on hand during lesson time to help monitor the classroom and assist students in staying focused by mitigating the effect of any distractions and encouraging students to pay attention.
So how is this accomplished? Well, if one student is having a rough day and starts causing a bit of a disruption to the routine of the classroom, the teacher’s aide may step in and have a one-on-one conversation with the student apart from the class to help figure out what could be causing the issue and inspire the student to refocus on participating with the rest of the class.
This can be a very important aspect of a TA position that requires both skill and patience and can have a heavy influence on the outcome of any given school day.
If you are looking to get hired as a TA, you must show a potential employer that you are capable of acting with patience and some understanding in order to be considered a viable candidate for the role.
Another way a TA helps mitigate distractions is by taking care of any incidents that can lead to a disruption in learning.
If, for example, a student gets a bloody nose in the middle of class time, the teacher’s aide can step in and help the student out with some first aid work and also assist in reaching out to office staff who may need to notify parents of the occurrence.
This assistance helps the teacher be able to continue a lesson uninterrupted, allowing children in school to continue learning by eliminating any unnecessary amount of wasted time that might otherwise occur. For this reason, if you are looking to enter this field, you would do well to acquire some type of first aid training or certification. Such training is not always necessary to get hired, but it can look very good on a resume, and if the person accepting applications for a given spot sees that you are equipped to handle this type of situation, you could very well be considered a shoo in!
What Else Does a T'sA Do?
Variety is embraced by some personalities, and a teacher’s assistant definitely gets a fair share of it in any given day. Because of this, potential employers are often interested in finding workers who have flexible personalities. They want to find a person who is engaged and interested in life, who won’t feel like their job should always necessarily be a structured set of tasks, but instead is open to helping out in a variety of ways.
Being able to demonstrate this type of character can be important for you to be able to find a job, depending, of course, on who your potential employer might be at any given interview.
As a TA, you might be called upon to grade papers, run copies of the next week’s quizzes, help prepare materials for the classroom, assist in special event preparations and even help with planning school programs and class presentations. So, being open to variety is a good trait to share with a potential employer during an interview.
Also, because grading papers and being involved in other aspects of scholastics can be a part of your day as a TA (you could even be called upon to substitute for a teacher in some circumstances should the need arrive), having an affinity for learning can also be a good characteristic to share during a job interview.
While a college education is not required to grade papers or substitute for a lesson or two here and there, if you happen to have made stellar grades in high school or have any advanced education beyond secondary school, use that record to show potential employers that you have the potential to be of scholastic assistance. This can look well when interviewing for a job in this field, so be sure to bring up anything “bragworthy.” In addition to scholastic ability, the creative side of a TA is often called upon in the day-to-day duties of the role. Anyone working as a TA might be asked to help decorate a bulletin board, assist with an art project, or share ideas on how to make a Spring Program prop. It is these kinds of things that most TA’s find enjoyable, fun, and inspiring.
When building a resume that will attract a potential employer’s attention, mention hobbies and interests that show your creative side if you have one!
Is This the Career for You?
Knowing what you do now about being a teacher’s assistant, you may now have an idea about whether it might be a fun and fulfilling job for you.
It is always good to think about what you would be doing on a day-to-day basis and figuring out if you would enjoy it before launching into a career.
The day-to-day of a TA position might involve any or all of the aspects listed above and also might involve its fair share of social mediation and influence.
Students often look both to their TA’s and their teachers for guidance in how to handle playground disputes or other tough situations.
For example, if a young one does poorly on a quiz, he or she might very well feel very sad or disappointed because learning to cope with a failure or loss is something that human beings have to develop over time: in these cases, the young student may look to their TA or their classroom teacher for comfort.
A TA can help lift a student’s spirits by sharing that nobody can know all of the answers all of the time and that it is okay to make mistakes. This type of intervention by the TA can make a student’s day, and for many TA’s is ultimately the reason they do what they do. Because of this mediation that is often necessary in the work of a teacher’s assistant, taking a class or two in childhood development or child psychology can be very useful and can look very good on a resume: children often react differently to situations than adults might, so learning about what you might expect from children of any given age can help you do great job of counseling a young one who may simply need an encouraging word. To this point, having a caring heart can go a long way in this career, and developing your ability to knowledgeably help a young one can help you excel in the field and feel better-equipped for your role as a TA.
So, now that you no doubt have a pretty good understanding of what you need to be able to do to be ready for employment as a TA, let’s look at some core characteristics/qualifications you should develop in order to be ready for this career.
Trait #1: A Caring Personality
This one was already mentioned, but it bears repeating. Having a caring heart is perhaps the most important qualification a TA might have. More than any other skill, the ability to care for sensitive humans is an integral part of this career. Children have many emotional needs and often need a bit of mothering during their early years in school. For this reason, a TA needs to have a warm, kind heart. When a child has fallen down and hurt himself on the playground, his biggest need is for someone to come alongside him with sympathy to help. Likewise, when a student does well in class or wins a competition, he/she deserves and should be praised—this is where a sympathetic and caring person can step up.
Trait #2: Common Sense
There are so many things that can happen in the course of a school day! Sometimes, there is just no textbook answer for how to handle a given situation, especially in environments that are so heavily dominated by human interaction. To be good at their job, TA’s need to have a pretty good dose of common sense in order to solve problems that may arrive for which the school handbook does not have any sort of delineated protocol. Good judgement can be the difference between a successful career as a TA and one that is fraught with stress.
Trait #3: Vigilance
Being a TA can come with some heavy responsibility. You are ultimately the “mother hen,” watching out for the safety of her chicks…a.k.a. students. Your priority as a TA is to help students enjoy a safe and productive working environment. Paying close attention to your students while they are out on the playground can help prevent accidents, and being aware of where all your students are at any given time is equally important. In case of fire or any sort of emergency, you need to know which students are off on a restroom break or off of school for a dentist appointment, so that when a roll call is taken, you know who should and should not be present and also where to look for a student who might be missing. If you don’t know where a student is at any given time, it can be an issue. If you want to be a good TA, just remember that vigilance, common sense, and kindness are important trait to develop and important traits to highlight when trying to get hired.
So, perhaps you feel this career could be meaningful and the perfect fit for you. What now?
The good news is this: becoming a TA can be very simple. While there are many courses of undergraduate study you can complete in order to best equip you for this field, you may not necessarily have to have a continued education after high school to find work. Career requirements vary by school district as well as by school type: a private school may have different requirements for becoming a TA than a public school, and Title 1 school (a school in which the majority of students come from underprivileged backgrounds) will usually have more rigorous requirements than a school located in a more affluent district. Some schools do not require anything more than a high school diploma, though you would of course have to go through the interview process and background checks to be hired on. To obtain a role as a teacher’s assistant in a learning center where no continued education units are required, you will need to simply show how valuable you could be to that school based on your own experience/personality (follow the tips outlined above!). Experience working with kids in any capacity is helpful if you wish to enter this field, because if you have not worked with kids before becoming a TA, you may find it to be quite difficult work, and you may also experience difficulty getting hired. Working with kids during high school, whether it be by way of working as a summer camp counselor or having a whole lot of experience baby-sitting, can be one way to boost both your resume and can also be a good way to develop your career skills. Getting some experience assisting at a day care during high school, perhaps as a volunteer, is another way to gain experience working with kids while at the same time figuring out if your personality and skill set are equal to this kind of work. Remember, being a teacher’s assistant is not for everyone. You could be a highly intelligent person but struggle with assisting in an environment where being a ”people-person” can be highly important. So make sure to get some experience working with kids before you try to make a career of it.
Recommended Undergrad Prep for Becoming a Teacher’s Aide
Like aforementioned, this field is one in which a college degree is not always required; however, that is not to say that there are no post-high school certifications that could be helpful in the field. Check out the tips below to learn ways to be both competitively and practically equipped for the job.
Tip #1: Become CPR Certified
Most day care centers require that their workers both become certified in and also maintain certification in CPR, and such certification is great for any one working with kids to have. Understanding basic first aid is extremely helpful in boosting a resume as it demonstrates that you care about the well fare of others and also that you may be well equipped to handle any emergency situations that may occur on the job. You never know when you might suddenly have a student in class who becomes ill, stops breathing, or suffers in some other physical way. The first responder can have the biggest effect on the outcome in any scenario like this. Becoming certified in CPR will help you have confidence in how to help in situations like these. Sometimes, maintaining your calm is the best way to react, and if you have been trained in how to respond to adverse circumstances like this, you will be more likely to keep a cool head and react in a calm, and perhaps life-saving manner.
Obtain an Associate’s Degree Related to Teaching
The schools that require some amount of continued education in order to hire on as a teacher’s aide will usually ask for an associate’s degree in paraprofessional education or an associate’s in childhood development.
These degrees can be very helpful if you want to do well in this career, so even if you plan to work at a school that does not require continued education, you may want to consider enrolling in this type of associate’s program.
Such studies will equip you to handle the psychological, emotional, and physical challenges children face day-to-day and can also equip you to recognize when a child might be suffering from childhood abuse or neglect outside of the classroom.
Professional training can equip you to meet students where they are at, understand the way a child’s mind develops, and better relate to students.
In a classroom for special needs students, this type of training is even more crucial, as the emotional and physical needs of special needs students often require special training in order to be adequately met by teachers, parents, and TA’s alike: this type of work usually requires a degree in paraprofessional education.
Coursework you might expect to see in paraprofessional education might include studies in psychology, developmental disability, early childhood development, and more.
You will learn to respond appropriately to the needs of special needs children and also how you can proactively help them to reach their potential.
Coursework for a degree in childhood development may vary from that mentioned above, but will touch on psychology and early childhood development. You may also learn about cognitive development in children, childhood nutrition, safety, theories in childhood development, and how to relate to parents and the community,
Such a degree can be very empowering and helpful to your work. It only takes two years, approximately, to complete, but can make a world of a difference in your ability to positively impact the young ones you will eventually be interacting with.
You will learn how to expect children of different ages to react emotionally to situations, and you will learn how to recognize abnormal behavior and what to do about it. You will learn how to share with parents in the most positive way the things they can do to promote their children’s physical, mental, and emotional growth. You will also learn how to best assist students in learning. Boys and girls tend to have varying learning issues at various ages based on gender: your degree will help you to understand these points and help you offer informed assistance within a classroom setting. All in all, a 2-year program (or even a condensed 1-year program) is the best way to go if you want to make a career of it in this field.
After you have achieved an associate’s degree, CPR certification, experience working with school-aged children, or perhaps just a ton of experience baby-sitting and a hard-earned high school diploma/GED, you should be ready to make a go of it in this field.
You will want to tailor your resume to highlight all of the great experience you have working with kids and highlight the aspects of your personality that can help you do a great job as a TA. Having a few glowing letters of recommendation from parents with whom you have connected by way of baby-sitting etc. can also be a great way to look good for your first-time hire. Show potential employers how passionate you are about the field. Share your qualifications, and then be yourself. There is a great need for teacher’s assistants in education, so the field is not going anywhere. Stay dedicated, show passion, and you should get hired sooner or later! Once in, you’ll get to enjoy a career characterized by life-changing influence.