Job Title: Teaching Assistant
Type of Company: I work for a school district in a suburb of Boston.
Education: BA, Early Childhood Education, Lesley University (Cambridge, MA) M.Ed., Special Education, Pennsylvania State University
Previous Experience: I taught kindergarten in a private school for five years. After attending graduate school full time, I worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Health providing resource and referral information for children with special health care needs.
Job Tasks: My primary goal as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten classroom is to assist the head classroom teacher with various teaching duties throughout the school day. For example, I help greet the children when they arrive in the morning and assist with the unpacking of their personal belongings. During our classroom meeting time, I take attendance by entering the information into the computer and sending it directly to the office. During work periods, I move around the classroom, offering assistance to the children. Depending on the activity, this could mean I'm helping with letter formation, matching letters to their corresponding sounds, creating patterns or playing a game. The scope of skills with five and six year old children is very wide and to be a good teacher, you must learn how to meet the variety of needs within the context of the given activity.
In addition, part of my job is to bring the children to physical education, library and outdoor recess. I am responsible for their safety when playing outdoors on swings, etc. I also assist with getting all the materials and supplies ready for different activities. This may mean I have to find a particular story from the library, then cut out paper shapes and then gather paint and supplies, just to complete one project!
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is the children. Kindergartners are very lovable and happy to be at school and they aim to please. My job is lots of fun because I spend a lot of time playing and watching the kids grow and learn. It's very rewarding to see children learn to read, for example.
The worst part of my job is that teaching is really a twenty-four-hour a day job, and lots of work needs to be completed after work or at home!
Job Tips: In an area like Boston, teaching jobs are hard to come by. Network with as many people as you can who may have a connection to a school system.
Realize early on that you will never strike it rich financially. But you will be rich in many other ways!
Attend a state school for a degree in education. For the salary you will make, it is not worth it to pay big bucks for an undergraduate degree.
Additional Thoughts: Teaching is a wonderful career because every day is different. You are constantly moving and learning new things and every child is different, so the way you approach certain subjects will change with each class.
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