Career Story: Teaching Assistant In A School With Emotionally Disabled Kids

Teaching Assistant In A School With Emotionally Disabled Kids

Job Title: Instructional Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a school district in suburban Washington, DC.

Education: University of Kansas

Previous Experience: I worked as IT sales support for three years and prior to that managed a network for a large national title company. Prior to being trained in information technology, I managed apartment complexes with 300 - 500 units.

Job Tasks: I support a middle-school math and science teacher in a school for emotionally-disabled students. An instructional assistant (IA) doesn't prepare the lesson plans, but she has to be able to carry them out in the teacher's absence. But in a school for emotionally-disabled students, she'll spend much more of her time encouraging and consoling them than actually teaching. Indeed, for the emotionally-disabled, a "successful" day in school can mean simply not crying, or not fighting: being able to sit through a class without disrupting the teacher and students. Many of the emotionally-disabled with whom I deal also come from impoverished or single-parent homes and the nurturing they get from teachers and assistant teacher is the only real attention that's lavished on them.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of an IA's job is watching students learn to do things. Something as ephemeral as a smile from one of these students can tide an IA through a difficult time.

The worst part of the job is having to discipline students who really can't help their behavior. Whether they're mad, frightened, frustrated or bored, they can only express it by screaming, cursing, throwing things or (at the other end of the spectrum) shutting down. The IA often has to escort students out of the classroom so teaching can continue.

Job Tips:
1.) Do not take the insults from students personally. This is simply how they cope; they rarely intend what they say.

2.) Start every class with a clean slate and don't hold grudges.

3.) Learn to laugh at yourself so the kids can learn to laugh at themselves.

Additional Thoughts: If you don't have patience, don't become an instructional assistant for the emotionally-disabled. They need patience, structure, love, understanding, fairness and a kind and listening ear. If the students are successful, you'll have succeeded.

Popular Schools offering Teacher Assisting Programs

quickinfoClick the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab. .

Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school

Matching School Ads

Ashford University

  • Programs: Education, Technology & Online Learning - Bachelors, Education, Technology & Online Learning - Masters, Higher Education - Bachelors, more...
  • Degrees: Bachelor, Master

Are you ready to advance or start your career inspiring minds and changing lives? Apply to join GCU's prestigious teaching community.

  • Programs: M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, M.A. in Gifted Education, M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction, more...
  • Degrees: Master, Bachelor

Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University (SJU) has been developing the minds and abilities of men and women in a challenging academic environment steeped in the enriching Jesuit tradition of cura personalis (care of the entire person).

  • Programs: Online Accelerated Teaching Certification
  • Degrees: Certificate

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Online Master's Programs

At Saint Mary's, we take pride in offering online graduate degrees designed to complement the schedules of working adults like you. Get an affordable, convenient education from a top-ranked university that's grounded in real-world applications.

  • Programs: Master of Education in Learning Design and Technology
  • Degrees: Master

Advance your teaching career with an online master's degree from University of Southern California Rossier School of Education.

  • Programs: Master of Arts in Teaching
  • Degrees: Master

Learning at Full Sail University has always centered around interaction and the exchange of ideas. Our online curriculum fully embraces this philosophy.

  • Programs: Instructional Design & Technology
  • Degrees: Master
Matching School Ads

Additional Career Stories for Teacher Assistants

The inside stories from people actually working in the field.
Click a story title to show the story, and click the title again to hide it.

All Types

You are visiting:

Find a school near you

What are Career Stories?

Career Stories are concise, real-world career overviews written by people relating their personal career experiences and wisdom. They provide invaluable insights and mentoring advice to students and career changers.

Most stories include:

  • a typical day or project
  • tips and advice
  • best and worst parts
  • educational background
  • previous experience

Browse hundreds of Career Stories

More Details On This Career

Please also see our detailed information about Teacher Assistants, including:

Back to Top