If you love working with children and are interested in a career in the education field, training to become a teaching assistant could be a good potential fit. Teaching assistants help support students in the classroom, while working with teachers to develop a safe and welcoming atmosphere. Teaching aides or assistants may work in a variety of different settings, ranging from private nursery schools to high school or secondary classrooms. They may specialize with high-needs students, those learning English as a second language, or toddlers. If you’re interested in this type of position, here are a few tips to help you get started!
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1. Gain experience working with children.
One of the first ways to begin a career as a classroom assistant is to gain some form of experience working with children. This could range from a background as a nanny or babysitter, to volunteering within a school. Tutoring, running an afterschool activity program, or working in a summer camp are also all potential jobs that could lead to an eventual career in education. While this isn’t required, any experience like this is always good to put on your CV.
2. Earn a qualification in education support.
Working towards a diploma or certificate in education support is also a great way to become a teaching assistant. These types of courses help teach you what to expect in the classroom, including organizational skills, communication strategies, and the basics of early childhood education. You may learn more about classroom diversity and cultural sensitivity, safety procedures within the classroom, and administrative skills.
3. Identify your long-term goals.
Teaching and classroom assistants work with students of all ages, ranging from infants to those at the secondary level. There’s a high level of competition for desirable placements, so it helps to map out your long-term career goals. Are you interested in gaining experience to become a senior assistant, or are you thinking about transitioning into becoming a fully qualified teacher? Having a clear goal could help you stand out from other candidates.
4. Look at opportunities for specialization.
Another way to become a teaching assistant is to look at opportunities to specialize in a certain area. Depending on the region where you live and work, there may be a specific need for teaching aides who are able to speak a foreign language, for example. At the secondary school level, there is also a high need for assistants who are qualified to work with students who may have learning disabilities or those who need to prepare for university.
5. Understand the demands of the job.
A teaching assistant may carry out a wide range of tasks throughout the course of the day. You’ll not only be working with children both in groups and one-on-one, but you’ll also be helping the teacher with administrative tasks and classroom preparation. You’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with parents, teachers, and students alike. Working hours are not always full-time, and work may be scarce during summer holiday periods. These are all just a few factors to consider to determine if this type of position would be right for you.
For many, particularly those with an interest in education, starting off as a teaching assistant can be a great way to gain experience and learn more about how to manage a class of students.