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What Does a Teacher Assistant Do?

Keeping a class of students engaged in learning is no easy task, which is why many teachers rely on the help of teacher assistants. Also commonly known as teacher aides, instructional aides or teaching assistants, they help classes run smoothly by reinforcing the lead teacher’s lesson plans and performing common classroom tasks at the teacher’s direction.

Teacher assistants may also provide additional assistance to special education students or students who need extra help in completing classwork. They typically work at schools and childcare centers.

Some assistants work part-time. Many assistants do not work during the summer, but exceptions include those who help classroom teachers during summer school or those who work at year-round schools.

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A teacher assistant helps two students with classwork
Teacher assistants often work one-on-one or with smaller groups to reinforce a teacher’s lesson plan. (Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock)
Duties + Responsibilities
  • Provide support and reinforcement for lead teacher
  • Give one-on-one or small-group instruction
  • Help teacher with taking attendance, grading tests and other record-keeping and clerical tasks
  • Help prepare lesson plans, including gathering materials and setting up the classroom and equipment
  • Help supervise students during class, lunch, recess, between classes and on outings such as field trips
  • Meet with lead teacher to discuss students’ progress
Education + Training

Most public school districts look for applicants who have completed at least two years of college or have earned an associate degree. Qualifications vary by state and even by school district.

Associate degree and certificate programs cover how to create educational materials, classroom observation skills and the many ways an assistant supports a classroom teacher. These programs also provide classroom experience.

Most states require a criminal background check. Some states require certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid. Continuing education and certification can lead to additional opportunities and advancement.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • Have the patience and flexibility to work with children with different learning styles
  • Have excellent communication skills
  • Have strong interpersonal skills to work with teachers, students and parents
  • Are resourceful, and able to explain information in different ways

Teacher Assistant training in your area


School-Age Teacher Certificate

Carroll Community College
Westminster (0.0 Miles)

Child and Adolescent Development, A.A.-T

Foothill College
Los Altos Hills (0.0 Miles)

Education Technical Certificate

Ivy Tech Community College
Indianapolis (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education, A.A.S.

Mitchell Community College
Statesville (0.0 Miles)

State Initial Early Childhood Education Certificate

Big Bend Community College
Moses Lake (0.0 Miles)

Child Development Careers, A.A.S

Saint Paul College
St Paul (0.0 Miles)

Special Ed Assistant, A.A.

Long Beach City College
Long Beach (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education Certificate

Pitt Community College
Winterville (0.0 Miles)

State Initial Paraeducation Certificate

Pierce College - Puyallup
Lakewood (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Assistant Teacher Certificate

College of DuPage
Glen Ellyn (0.0 Miles)

Elementary and Early Childhood Education, A.A.

Laramie County Community College
Cheyenne (0.0 Miles)

Early Childhood Education B-K Diploma

Craven Community College
New Bern (0.0 Miles)
Patrice Hayes, teacher assistant ambassador
Meet Ambassador Patrice Hayes

Patrice Hayes has been a teacher assistant for 14 years, but she never tires of engaging with kids and learning their personalities.

“I like that I am a big part of their life at a pivotal time in their life,” says Patrice. “I love to see them grow. I love to see their personalities shine.”

She says there are many necessary qualities needed to do her job well. “You have to have patience. You have to be positive,” she says. 

The most important quality? “You have to be able to handle the unexpected.” And just keep smiling!

Find Teacher Assistant Jobs in Your Area


Paraprofessional Special Education

Tempe Union High School District
Tempe ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Special Education Aide-Intense Interventions - 7.25 hours per day / 5 days per week

Plymouth Community School Corporation
Plymouth ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

South Bay - Substitute Aide - On Call

Educational Services of America
Pacifica ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Instructional Assistant- RTI

Richland School District 2
Columbia ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Special Education Classroom Independence Assistant - 2020-2021 SY

Peoria Unified School District
Peoria ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Aide - Cross Categorical Classroom (1504)

Dunlap Community Unit School
Peoria ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 1 week ago

Special Education Teaching Assistant

Amphitheater Public Schools
Tucson ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 3 months 2 weeks ago

Special Ed Classroom Assist (Special Education Instruction)

Chicago Public Schools
Chicago ( 0.0 ) Miles
Posted 5 days 11 hours ago