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Career Story: Teacher's Aide In A Class Of Learning-Disabled Children

Teacher's Aide In A Class Of Learning-Disabled Children

Job Title: Instructional Assistant For Middle School

Type of Company: I work for a public school district in northern Virginia.

Education: BS, Political Science, Gettysburg College

Previous Experience: I worked in retail for two decades and am now in the process of changing careers.

Job Tasks: I assist the teacher in a small classroom to adapt the school's curriculum to the needs of students who are suffering from emotional and learning disabilities and give her help in other ways as well, teaching, tutoring and helping keep students in line. My main job, though, is to help the teacher make sure that our students understand the course material. Some of it is best learned visually, other parts of it are easier to understand if students can work it out physically.

I have a long list of routine administrative chores that I have to attend to each day. I have to make sure students order their lunches on time, that they sign up for after-school activities and get their behavior modification tracking charts completed for each class. I prepare hand-outs and other study aids the principal teacher employs. I make sure at the end of the period that the classroom's ready for the next subject and at the end of the day that everything's been arranged for the morning. I monitor and follow-up on any classroom incidents that stem from student misconduct. I also assist in art class, helping wherever I'm needed.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is watching students grasp an idea and find that they're successful in applying it. It's great too when they realize that they are gaining skill in areas where they'd struggled.

The worst part of the job is having to cope with students who seem determined to do badly and bring their classmates down with them.

Job Tips:
1.) Be flexible, as things will rarely, if ever, go according to plan.

2.) Stay positive at all times: the students will sense your discouragement and feed off it.

3.) Remember that you're a role model. Even though they don't always show it, your students really do appreciate what you're doing for them.

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