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.
- 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
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.
- 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