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Career Story: Instructional Assistant At A Public Elementary School

Instructional Assistant At A Public Elementary School

Job Title: Instructional Assistant

Type of Company: I work for a school district in southeastern New Hampshire.

Education: AS, Business, Middlesex Community College (Lowell, MA)

Previous Experience: I worked for a major defense contractor for many years, but when my children started to grow up I resigned to help raise them. After nine years at home, I needed to find a job that worked with my children's school schedule.

Job Tasks: I work with children who have learning disabilities or an IEP or a 504 -- modified academic programs based on special requirements. I work with teachers and case managers to assess what their needs are and how to accommodate them in a classroom setting. I often take the children to a common area where I can work with them in private, away from the glare of other children. I also do verbal testing on children whose reading skills are substandard, testing them weekly. I provide grammar and reading plans to expedite their progress. I am currently providing a balanced curriculum for a child who needs constant assistance and serve in many ways as a kind of social worker, trying to comprehend what goes on in her home and discussing things there that have clearly upset her. I also provide her with constant security throughout the day. If she is uneasy about a newly-assigned task, I am there for her, answering questions and giving her help.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is interacting with children of all different backgrounds. As a parent I can relate to disciplinary issues in a realistic fashion. I like to hear about their day and how I can help them. I also feel the greatest joy when the light bulb in a child's head goes on and he finally understands what I've been trying to teach him.

The worst part of my work is having to deal with the school's bureaucracy. The administration isn't always professional and can be dismissive of their Instructional Assistants. We are part of the team regardless of our stature.

Job Tips: As always teachers or educators should approach these kinds of jobs out of dedication and love. Teaching jobs affect our future in so many ways that it is very important to foster respectful relationships with the children and point them to academic success.

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