In an effort to survive budget cuts, schools are faced with difficult staffing and resource decisions as it relates to meeting educational needs and making the most of the limited funding available to them. Among the casualties in this battle are those who serve our youngest and most vulnerable learners, teacher’s assistants.
The earliest years of a child’s education serve as the building blocks for future learning in school and in life and set the tone for their experiences in the future. Teacher’s assistants can play an integral role in making an early elementary child’s experience a positive one.
The main role of a teacher’s assistant is to partner with the teacher in the shared goal of improving student achievement. Specifically, here are 5 ways teacher’s assistants can add value to the classroom:
1. Help With Classroom Management
Teacher’s assistants can serve as a second set of eyes and ears to monitor the class and handle disruptions so the teacher can maintain the flow of instruction and focus on maximizing the learning experience within the classroom.
2. Serve as an Instructional Assistant
They can conduct tutoring sessions to help students improve their skills in areas such as reading and math. And, based on their regular interactions with students, they can identify those who may be struggling and who may need additional help.
3. Assist With Classroom Administrative Tasks
Teacher’s assistants can take on such duties as photocopying, filing, and record keeping, freeing the teacher to devote more time to lesson planning and focusing on academic improvement.
4. Provide Extra Attention to Students
As each student is unique and has individual learning needs, a teacher’s assistant can provide opportunities for more one-on-one instructional time. In addition, they can reinforce a positive learning environment by encouraging students and being available to listen to their concerns and acting as a confidant.
Teacher’s assistants often wear many hats. For example, they can serve as a substitute teacher when needed to maintain consistency and minimize the effects of an otherwise disruptive situation. They can offer assistance with students outside of the classroom, such as during lunch or recess. These instances allow teacher’s assistants more time for informal interactions with students, allowing them to form closer ties which can prove beneficial in the classroom.
With rising expectations in student achievement and more being expected of teachers, this role can be a valuable investment in our children’s futures. While eliminating this role for financial reasons might be a favored short term decision, is it a wise one in the long run? Fortunately there are still schools that value this role and the difference it can make in the classroom as well as in a child’s educational future. Your thoughts?