What Does a Teaching Assistant Do?
A teaching assistant, also called a teacher's aide or paraprofessional, helps a licensed teacher through classroom instruction or supervision. The day-to-day activities of this role may vary, but ultimately your main goal as a teaching assistant is to help ensure all students in class receive more personalized attention. You'll also help ease the workload of your partner teacher, allowing them to focus more on classroom instruction.
A career as a teaching assistant may be right for you if you are:
- Good with children: As an educational paraprofessional, you may work with children as young as infants or as old as high schoolers. All age groups will have their own unique challenges you'll need to address.
- Patient: Teaching assistants need to be calm and even-tempered, especially when dealing with younger children who are learning how to be students.
- Professional: Teacher's aides need to be able to leave their problems at the door to focus on providing the best learning environment possible for students.
- Personable and friendly: Since you will likely be working with the same teacher for many hours at a time, it's important you value teamwork and maintain a helpful and kind demeanor.
Teaching Assistant Responsibilities & Job Duties
Your duties as a teacher's aide will change each day, or even each hour, depending on what will best serve the teacher and class. As a paraprofessional, you'll help ensure all individuals in the classroom remain on task. You may also be a resource to answer student questions, supervise events outside of the classroom (like assemblies or field trips), or grade assignments. You may also help with general classroom setup and organization.
Preschool Teacher Assistant Job Description
A preschool teaching assistant helps supervise children who are not yet old enough for kindergarten. Much like a teaching assistant for older children, a preschool teaching assistant helps a licensed teacher throughout the school day. Some of your responsibilities may include:
- Supervising children during class, recess, or on field trips
- Assisting with basic classroom instruction like ABCs, counting, and other skills to prepare students for kindergarten
- Taking care of bathroom accidents or preparing snacks
- Evaluating students' health and wellness
- Reporting signs of neglect or abuse
Daycare Teacher Assistant Job Description
Teacher assistants in daycares work with very young children, from infancy until preschool, to ensure all their basic needs are met while also teaching basic life skills. As a daycare teaching assistant, you will be part caregiver and part teacher. You may be responsible for:
- Assisting with hygiene needs, feeding, and general first aid
- Leading classroom activities like story time, arts and crafts, or teaching basic writing skills
- Monitoring classrooms to ensure all students are safe and well-behaved
Special Education Teacher Assistant
Special education teaching assistants work with developmentally disabled students to ensure their unique needs are met. Many of these students will require a special approach to teaching and may require you to adapt lessons and assignments to better fit their needs, while reinforcing the underlying curriculum being taught. In addition to assisting with classwork, you may be required to:
- Help students feed themselves or use the restroom if physical limitations deem this necessary
- Be well-versed in behavioral disorders (if applicable)
- Aid students who are prone to physical or emotional outbursts
Those who work in special education may work with an entire classroom of students in a specialized setting. However, you may also work one-on-one with students to serve as their advocate and representative to substitute teachers or other staff.
Special education teacher assistants will need to take extra care to maintain confidentiality regarding the medical conditions of students they assist.
Teaching Assistant Qualifications
If you want to become an educational paraprofessional, you will need to meet various requirements set by the state in which you desire to work. Teacher assistants typically must have an associate's degree or at least two years of post-secondary education, as well.
Through on-the-job training, educational paraprofessionals will receive the knowledge necessary to assist teachers. Many of the topics covered will focus on educational standards and curriculum-based learning to help aides better work in tandem with teachers for the betterment of students.