Become an Expert Teaching Assistant with this Comprehensive Guide. In many classrooms across the country, there is more than one person in the classroom teaching students. A teaching assistant is a valuable addition to a classroom that’s full of students, as they can provide additional assistance to students who need help while the teacher is providing lessons or working with other children. Learning more about some of the reasons why people choose to pursue this job may help you determine if being a teaching assistant is the right choice for you.
In this article, we discuss what a teaching assistant is, 10 reasons to become a teaching assistant and tips for becoming one.
What is a teaching assistant?
A teaching assistant works under the supervision of a teacher in the classroom to provide support for the lessons the teacher is giving the students. They can do this by working individually with students or with small groups of students. They also help teachers grade assignments, take attendance, pass out and collect materials and prepare lessons. To become a teaching assistant, candidates usually need an associate’s degree in education, assistant teaching or a related subject. They also often complete an internship as a teacher’s assistant to become more familiar with the role.
10 reasons to become a teaching assistant
Below is a list of 10 reasons to consider becoming a teaching assistant:
1. You have diverse daily experiences
Each day as a teaching assistant provides a different experience. Your work hours remain the same, but the experiences you have inside the classroom with students are diverse every day. Some days may go smoothly and include engaging lessons and successful students. You could spend other days planning lessons or working with small groups, helping them learn a skill. Regardless, each day is likely to present different situations, celebrations and entertainment for you and your students.
2. You develop skills
As you work in the classroom, you can develop and improve skills that you can use later in your career. Since you have to clearly articulate directions and explain how to do the classroom assignments to students, you can improve your communication skills. Organizing student work, keeping the classroom tidy and keeping students on a schedule can teach you organizational and time management skills. You can include skills like these and specific instances of you using these abilities on your resume for future jobs.
3. You receive job fulfillment
If you enjoy helping people succeed, then becoming a teaching assistant may give you a sense of job fulfillment. For example, one of your tasks is to help students overcome the learning challenges they’re experiencing. When you’ve worked with a student for days on the same concept and see that they finally understand what they’re doing, it can be very rewarding to know that you helped them with that accomplishment. In addition, you may feel satisfied seeing their excitement when they realize they can do something on their own for the first time.
4. You help students
A teaching assistant can help students in many ways. Because one of your job duties is to work with students who need extra assistance, you can spend extra time building relationships with students and finding creative strategies to help them learn a concept that may have been challenging when they first learned it.
After forming individual relationships with students, they may trust you enough to come to you with any challenges they’re having at home or with their friends. Because of your unique position in the classroom, you have the ability to talk through some of their issues so they feel valued and safe coming to you with topics that are important to them.
5. You can determine your career path
Being a teaching assistant provides the option for you to learn from having a variety of teaching environments and experiences. As you spend more time in the classroom, you may have the opportunity to focus on specific academic subjects you’re interested in teaching in the future. You can work with the teacher to plan lessons and get additional first-hand experience before going to college for your bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, you may be able to determine a specific career that interests you. You might find you’re interested in working in a normal teacher setting with a class full of students, or you may prefer to work with students one-on-one or in a small group setting like an intervention specialist.
6. You have a variety of work duties
Teaching assistants have a vast array of job duties to complete. Sometimes you take time to learn the lesson material in advance so you can help students who need extra assistance understanding the concepts. Teachers may occasionally ask you to create displays to showcase students’ work, contact parents, document student progress, set up classroom materials before each lesson and provide extra supervision during activities such as lunch, recess or between classes. You also collaborate with the lead teacher to discuss student behavior and possible interventions to help them improve their classroom behavior.
7. You get a flexible work schedule
A benefit of being a teaching assistant is that because you work normal teacher hours, you have a lot of vacation time and weekends to spend with family and take care of other responsibilities. You receive extensive vacation days, such as two months off during the summer, and typically a week off for Thanksgiving and Christmas. You also get to take off the same holidays as students, which can be helpful if you have children at home. Having a teacher work schedule also provides you the chance to take vacations more easily without having to request time off of work.
8. You can have a mentor
Through a shared objective of educating students and giving them a positive experience in the classroom, the relationship you create with the lead classroom teacher has the potential to develop into a mentorship. They can become a guide during your journey to becoming a teacher. They may provide advice, suggestions and tips regarding how to plan lessons, how to effectively manage your students and can change the way you view education altogether. The lead teacher may also be an ideal choice to write a recommendation letter when you begin applying for other jobs in education.
9. You can use your interests in the classroom
Depending on your interests, you may be able to bring your hobbies or interests into the classroom. For example, if you enjoy crafts, music or creative writing, you might find a lesson that relates to your hobby or locate some free time in the schedule to show your interests to the students. It can be rewarding to do something you enjoy with them because you are able to introduce them to a unique part of your life outside of the classroom.
10. You become part of a community
When you begin a career as a teaching assistant, you have the opportunity to become part of a community comprised of the teachers, students and other staff. You and the staff share the same goal of helping students get the best education you can provide. In addition, you form a smaller community with the students you see and work with every day in the classroom. You can get to know one another and form a bond unique to only the people inside the classroom.
Tips for becoming a teaching assistant
Here are a few tips you can use if you’re interested in becoming a teaching assistant:
Update your resume
Consider updating your resume so that it reflects some of the skills required for the position. Review some of the job postings and decide what skills you possess that are similar to the ones listed on the job descriptions and include those skills in your resume. Including those skills may help demonstrate that you’re qualified for the position. In addition, some employers use applicant tracking systems (ATS) that filter resumes based on certain keywords schools have programmed the ATS to find. They file resumes containing certain keywords into a folder for hiring managers to look at and potentially schedule interviews.
Ask for letters of recommendation
A letter of recommendation is a testimony from your colleagues or supervisors that you are a dedicated individual who is the right fit for the position. It allows the principal to become aware of your talents, experience and good work habits. Think about who might be the ideal candidate to write your letters and then contact them about the reason you need the recommendation. Try to give suggestions regarding what to include in the letter, such as how they know you, reasons you’re qualified, examples to support their reasons, and a brief explanation of why they’re recommending you.
Be proactive after applying
After you’ve applied for the job, consider emailing the principal, assistant principal or the principal’s secretary regarding your interest in the position. You can let them know that you’ve applied, are looking forward to hearing back from them and to let you know if there is any other information they would like to consider you for the position. This can show your enthusiasm for the job and that you’re willing to go beyond expectations to be asked for an interview.