In a general sense, as the name connotes, a teacher assistant refers to an individual who renders support to the lead teacher’s effort. The activities of a teacher assistant are overseen by the lead teacher who delegates responsibilities and duties. The presence of teacher assistants is predominant in preschools and elementary schools. However, this group of teacher aides can also be found in middle schools and high schools.
Besides employment in schools, teacher assistants are also known to work in various recreational, religious and social institutions. The duties rendered by teacher assistants vary according to the job descriptions associated with the level of education in which they are recruited. For instance, a teacher assistant at the kindergarten level of education may be involved in providing support to the elementary teacher’s activities such as playgroup coordination, while a teacher assistant in a middle school may be involved in duties such as grading, recording and evaluation of tests and general performances.
Teacher Assistant Job Duties
- Assists the lead teachers in the preparation of lesson plans, as well as in the delivery of these syllabuses.
- Monitors the responses of the students to the teaching-learning process, and offers constructive inputs that can improve learning and performance.
- Helps the lead teacher to administer tests, collate results, evaluate performances, and keep records.
- Supports the lead teacher in instilling discipline, as well as monitoring obeisance to rules and regulations in the students.
- Liaises with the appropriate stakeholders on behalf of the lead teacher.
- Works in tandem with the lead teacher to see to the overall smooth-running of the teaching-learning process.
- Organizes education-themed events and extracurricular activities for the students in order to contribute to their overall development.
- Prepares the students and classrooms in readiness for the teaching-learning process. This includes making the students comfortable and creating an enabling atmosphere wherein optimal development can be achieved.
- Teacher aide
- Instructional aide
- Paraprofessional assistant
The job outlook for teacher assistants is moderate. A lot of indices such as type of institution and area of specialization contribute to this fact.
Teacher Assistant Skills and Qualifications
- As expected of all teachers, instructors and their affiliates, coherent communication skills are paramount qualities required. Same applies for the teacher assistant.
- Outstanding organizational skills are necessary requirements for a teacher assistant. These are important in order to create an environment conducive for improved teaching-learning activities.
- Equanimity is a crucial skill that should be possessed by a teacher assistant. Instructing young children can be a daunting task; hence a teacher aide must be massively endowed with high forbearance qualities.
- Creativity in fashioning out the most productive approaches to the teaching-learning process is a distinguished quality for teacher assistants.
- Excellent interpersonal relationship skills are needed by a teacher assistant in order to establish and promote seamless communication amongst all the stakeholders involved.
- Effective management skills are necessary attributes an accomplished teacher assistant should possess.
- Impressive resourcefulness, ingenuity and inventiveness are imperative qualities a teacher assistant should have.
- A competent teacher assistant is required to have appropriate educational qualifications as well as a vibrant knowledge base in order to be able to meaningfully contribute to the students’ development.
Teacher assistants receive an annual mean wage of $27,120 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2016).
Education and Training
Due to the fact that teacher assistants are saddled with diverse job responsibilities according to the grade level in which they teach, the educational requirements vary. However, the most widespread qualification for the most basic teacher assistants is the possession of a high school diploma and/or a tenable associate’s degree in related fields. In addition to this, most educational institutions and professional organizations also offer courses aimed at complementing the teacher assistant’s competence. Since this category of educators work under the supervision of a lead teacher, most of the training process is received on-the-job.