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Career Story: Instructional Assistant And Foreign Language Adjunct In A Public School

Instructional Assistant And Foreign Language Adjunct In A Public School

Job Title: Instructional Assistant

Type of Company: A school system in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

Education: Executive Secretary, Institute of Careers, Santiago, Chile. •• 2 years of college in NOVA, geography, history, Tourism. •• English as a second language, NOVA

Previous Experience: I started out as a secretary to the director of an engineering department at the University of Chile in Santiago. I came to the United States as a transcriber working in the Conference Department of the Organization of American States. In order to be home with my children, I worked in an emergency clinic at night. When my kids were old enough for school, I became an instructional assistant.

Job Tasks: I help the teacher with students who are behind, working with them on a one-to-one basis, 'til they've caught up with the rest of the class. I also act as a translator during meetings with Hispanic parents. When necessary I assist the teacher-parent conferences and translate for the teachers so they can communicate with parents who do not speak English.

I help the teachers to organize their classrooms. Many teachers do not have the ability to organize a classroom. I help them to do that and to seat the students in a way that makes the class more productive for everyone. In my spare time, I also do clerical work such as Xeroxing and laminating. The teachers do not have access to the laminator; because of the misuse of the machines, I'm the only one who has access to it.

On other occasions, I translate instructions for the students and for those parents who do not speak English. There are many instructions that the teachers send home for certain projects and I translate those so the parents are able to lend their kids a hand. I also substitute on the frequent occasions when the teachers have to attend meetings.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The worst part of the job is the clerical part, laminating, cutting paper, making copies. It is not bad at all, but if I have to find a "worst part of the job" I would have to choose that.

The best part is to work with those student who are behind and there is a big reward when you see them coming along and learning.

Job Tips: If you love children and you like to teach you are probably a very good candidate for this job, but it pays nothing and I would frankly recommend continuing your studies and becoming a teacher instead. Why be an assistant if you can be a teacher? I am doing it because I wanted to be with my children as they grow up.

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