Online diploma programs for aspiring teacher's aides or assistants are not widely available, but distance education certificate programs can be found through community colleges and private career schools. These programs prepare students to work as aides in K-12 classrooms and may meet requirements for a state-issued teaching assistant certificate.
Some programs are fully online, while others require a combination of distance learning and campus-based instruction. Additionally, some programs require a supervised work experience in an approved setting. Time length for online certificate and diploma programs varies from just a few months to a year.
Teaching Aide/Assistant Certificate
Online certificate programs for teacher's aides range from 12 to 17.5 credits. Required courses vary, but often include some general education coursework in areas like English, math and psychology. Online coursework is completed in a virtual classroom containing lectures, assignments, assessments and tools for student interaction.
Some online programs require field observations and tutoring, which may occur at a school in the student's community. If the student is already a teacher's aide taking online courses to improve skills for professional development, field experience may be fulfilled at the school where the student works.
Distance learning students might cover the following topics in their programs:
- Introduction to teaching
- Introduction to child development
- Managing behavior
- Managing the classroom physical and social atmosphere
- Special needs of children
- Using computers in education
- A foreign language, such as French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese or American Sign Language (ASL)
Because of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, teacher's aides who help in instruction are required to meet one of three standards. They must have 48 college credits or at least an associate degree, or they must pass a local or state evaluation to determine their knowledge of and ability to help students in math, writing and reading. For this reason, certificate programs for teacher's aides - whether online or on campus - typically are the first step toward an associate degree. If the aide's job does not require instructing students, these education requirements do not apply.
Federally Allowed Assignments
The No Child Left Behind Act describes what activities are allowed for teacher's aides. They can instruct students under the teacher's direct supervision or tutor eligible students when the teacher is not teaching them. Other activities teacher's aides can perform include the following:
- Organizing materials
- Leading activities that involve parents
- Helping in the library or media center
- Assisting in a computer laboratory
- Acting as a translator
While online diploma programs for teacher's aides are not commonly available, there are programs available at the certificate level. These programs may meet the state requirements for licensure and include coursework in areas such as introductory teaching, introductory child development, behavior management and special needs of children.