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Teaching Assistants – How’s this job like?

Teaching Assistants – How’s this job like?

Across the world, departments of education are using the services of teaching assistants in classrooms from elementary school through four year college programs. The qualifications to become a TA vary widely by national education standards.  This is not a job that pays enough for you to establish an investment portfolio.

A teaching assistant may find a job as a private tutor in Europe, teaching corporate employees in Asia or assisting college professors with undergraduate classes.  In the U.S., teaching assistant training is not required in 49 of 50 states.  In Europe and Asia, assistants are required to have certification or award training at a minimum.

In the U.K., teaching assistants may be called educational assistants or classroom assistants.  In Scotland, they are called pupil support workers.  Work opportunities in Europe for assistants may be found in public schools, private schools or as personal tutors in homes.

In Asia, teachers’ assistants who are natural English speakers are sought after to enhance the language skills of employees in corporate offices.  These are usually private jobs that offer housing and minimal pay.

Graduate Teaching Assistants

Those who qualify as Graduate Teaching Assistants seek employment at universities in order to further their own studies.

  • Have a Bachelor’s degree before acceptance
  • Work at colleges and universities with undergraduate students
  • Receive minimal wages, sometimes partial payment on housing and free tuition for PhD activities
  • Work under strict contracts within their own country or in other nations

Generally, GTAs do not know the professor that they work for prior to accepting the position.  They may or may not have a special focus in the department for which they are hired.

Their duties include teaching small classes, presenting seminars and grading papers for the professor. Additional duties may be established prior to acceptance by the professor. Wages are always low.  Rewards of teaching and experience in another culture are high.

Teaching Assistant Job Description

With the exception of private or corporation placement, teaching assistants’ job description are uniform worldwide.

  • Work under the direct supervision of a qualified teacher/professor
  • Assist in the implementation of lesson plans
  • Assist in student development
  • Ensure a safe environment as a second set of eyes
  • Assist in preparing paperwork for class use
  • Assist in grading papers as assigned
  • Direct reading and study groups

Regardless of the grade level, assistants are there to assist the teacher.  They are under the watch of the teacher/professor.  The teacher is responsible for the assistant’s behavior and interaction at all times.

International Teaching Assistant Jobs

Teaching assistant jobs are available for graduates of high school, undergraduates in a four-year university program and for graduates with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

  • France classifies teaching assistants as “non-nationals” who are hired to assist in teaching other languages at the university level.  A minimum of three semesters of university level classwork must be completed.  Those with dual American-French citizenship are not eligible to work in French programs.
  • New Zealand hires teaching assistants to help with native schools where teachers are minimal.  Assistants are expected to have completed the first two years of university study with excellent grades.  Contracts are for up to 8 months.  Placement is usually in secondary and elementary schools but occasionally college openings are available.
  • India and China hire English speaking assistants to work with students in group settings for the skill improvement. These positions are mostly in secondary level education and often in non-typical tourist areas.  Some private tutoring placements as well as corporate opportunities may be available.
  • Canada hires international students to assist in math, science and general education classes for elementary and secondary education.  Some Graduate and Undergraduate placements are available at the universities.

For those who wish to gain cultural experience in international settings, teaching assistant positions are an option for consideration.

Teaching Assistants in the U.S.

Teaching assistant positions in the U.S. are utilized in Pre-K through to high school settings.

  • Are primarily part-time jobs in local school settings
  • Teaching assistant salary is approximately $23,000 year depending on the district
  • High school diplomas or GEDs are usually the only educational requirement
  • No additional training or certification is mandated
  • Previous employment experience with children is not needed

Teaching assistants are commonly hired by Head Start programs, Pre-K schooling centers and religious schools.  However, more school districts are hiring assistants for grades K-12.  This allows the school boards to increase class size at minimal cost.

Universities and colleges are increasingly seeking teacher assistants and tutors for undergraduate classes.  Professors’ recommendations of students is the usual route to securing these positions.  Pay is rarely above minimum wage and hours are generally less than 30 hours a week.

Summary of Teaching Assistants

Assistants in the class environment are shown benefit teachers more than students.  Recent studies in Great Britain indicate that students who have access to assistant teachers do worse in independent work than those who have no extended help.  Nevertheless, Great Britain is increasing the number of high-level teaching assistants in regular classrooms.

These assistants teach classes without the supervision of the regular teachers. Teacher’s Unions in Britain have raised concerns over this plan. They have accused the government of trying to replace qualified teachers with sham instructors. With the advent of technology replacing traditional methods of education, assistants may be the option for monitoring virtual classes.

Until income levels are raised for teaching assistants, certification or special training classes are not intended as a requirement in the U.S.  In the U.K., there are several levels of certification programs including child development and interaction classes required. Other nations require some college level completions with above average grades. Some countries offer undergraduate classes in lieu of payment.  Others provide room and board for Graduate Teaching Assistants.

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