Want to be a teacher? Not sure it is for you? Want to try first? Then the TA’s job is just for you! It is a perfect way to make money and see if you are cut for teaching.
As a rule, teaching assistants provide organizational help. At the entry level, they prepare classrooms and read aloud to young students. More ‘sophisticated’ ones help teachers plan and conduct lessons and also conduct some teaching of their own.
Requirements for becoming a TA vary in Britain and the US, being lower in the former. However, personal qualities and skills sought in a TA are quite the same. To make a good assistant, a person must:
- have some experience of working with kids
- be a good communicator able to establish rapport with children, kids, and parents
- be creative and flexible
- have developed writing, reading and numeracy skills
- be patient and calm
- be able to work in a team
- obviously, love children
In the UK, TA positions are often held be parents who want to spend more time with their kids. This is a common practice, as British schools usually don’t require any qualification for entry-level positions. However, to become a higher level teaching assistant a person will need a college course. A mandatory requirement is also a preliminary Criminal Records Bureau check.
After a person is accepted to the position of the TA, she will pass introductory training. Apprenticeships and college programs offer relevant qualifications such as Award in Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools, Certificate Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools and Diploma in Specialist Support for Teaching and Learning in Schools. To get a certificate or a diploma, you will need to have your worked assessed.
In the USA, most schools require their TAs to have at least a two-year degree. The most common degree options are certificates and associate degrees in paraprofessional education or child development. Certificate programs typically last no longer than a year and include physical education, psychology and introduction to education.
Associate degree programs are more extended and often include sigh language, elementary education, child development, community and family relations. Most of the practical training is conducted on the job. Sometimes an assessment exam is also taken.
All in all, becoming a TA is not that hard. However, it requires determination and some effort. A person who is not cut for working with kids will never make a good teaching assistant, just like a blind person won’t be able to paint pictures. If you are fond of kids and if you like to support them in their everyday achievements, the TA position is waiting just for you.