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What Do Assistant Teachers Do?

Assistant teachers work with students and help teachers out in the classroom. Read on to learn about the duties, salary and career outlook for this field.

Assistant Teacher Defined

Full, and sometimes overfull, classrooms contain students with individual language, learning, emotional and health needs that can be daunting for one educational professional to fulfill. As an assistant teacher, you provide individualized attention to children while the lead teacher carries out a lesson plan. Your additional duties comprise all the teacher tasks that allow the teacher to focus more on the learning going on in the classroom. You may work in classrooms with children of all grade levels, children who are learning English and children who have special learning needs.

Important Facts About Teacher Assistants

Key Skills Patience, resourcefulness, communication and interpersonal skills
Required Education Some college, no degree
On-the-job Training Classroom training required
Work Environment Private and public schools, childcare centers, community centers, religious organizations

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Classroom Supervision

Throughout the school day, teachers have many students in their charge for whom they're responsible. They act in place of the parents and are required to provide constant supervision. Assistant teachers help maintain a safe, orderly learning environment, and they may be responsible for supervising children in other locations on the school grounds where the trouble may arise - the cafeteria, the library, the playground or the bus stop.

Classroom Administration and Lesson Set-Up

Teachers have some administrative duties that you would assume as an assistant teacher. Handling attendance, making phone calls home and recording grades are examples of the ways assistant teachers support the main classroom teacher. You may also help set up lessons by scheduling and setting up classroom technology and equipment, making copies and preparing lesson materials.

Tutoring

As an assistant teacher, you may have many opportunities to work with students one-on-one or in small groups. Assistant teachers support struggling readers or assist students in retrieving information for assignments. Because special education students are often included in mainstream classrooms, you may be working primarily with students with disabilities. You may also work with English language learners using adapted materials.

Salary and Job Outlook

In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported that teacher assistants had a median annual income of $26,970. The top 10% of teacher assistants generated yearly salaries of $41,020 or more and the bottom 10% of workers at that time made annual salaries of $18,670 or less in 2018, based on figures from the BLS.

The BLS also reported that teacher assistants are expected to see an 8% growth in employment from 2016 to 2026, which was predicted to be as fast as the national average when compared to other occupations. If you have experience in English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching or special education teaching, favorable employment opportunities were expected.