Job Title: Paraprofessional (In A School System)
Type of Company: I work for a school district in rural Massachusetts.
Education: BA, International Business, UMass-Amherst MBA, Marketing, Rivier College (Nashua, NH)
Previous Experience: Before getting married, I worked in sales and marketing. After starting a family, I focused on getting a job in a school so I could have the summers off with my kids.
Job Tasks: Some days I work in the school library, where I am in charge of all library duties (checking books in and out, creating spine labels and bar codes, shelving books and reading to the students.) I also teach the difference between fiction and non-fiction books and give lessons regarding each type of book. We go over the facts and details of non-fiction and I have all of the students discuss what was learned.
The other days I work either on a one-to-one basis with a child in need of assistance or in a group setting. It is not just an assistant teacher position, I take charge of and monitor the students. At times I will not only bring the student to his or her designated area to work with a specialist (like a special ed teacher), but I will work with them on modified class level work. The school has an inclusionary classroom policy, and at times it can be disruptive to the other students when my student is unable to participate at the same level, or decides to act out. This is where creative teaching comes into play.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my library job is educating children, helping them search for a particular book or author and watching as a smile comes across their face when it is found. The worst part is when students do not respect teaching authority and feel the library is a place to socialize or take recess.
The best part of my one-on-one or group setting is knowing that I make a difference in the way the child learns. This is especially true working with individuals. The worst part is when students act out or become disruptive and have to be removed from class.
Job Tips: I do not have a certification in either elementary school education or as a media/library specialist. I started the job as a way to see if the school world was for me. Since I enjoy it and the hours are exactly what I was looking for, I should take courses as a media specialist -- a hot area to be in, by the way. I am also contemplating getting my certification as a teacher. I could do this in a year taking courses over the weekend so as not to interfere with my current schedule.
Additional Thoughts: Obtaining a position as an educator will enable you to balance a career and family. When beginning college I considered a teaching degree, but saw the low starting salaries and decided against it. With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that I should have tried to 'shadow' or volunteer in a school. After doing this I might have realized early on the long-term benefits to teaching.
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