Hello fellow thirty something and lover of 80's rock!
I've been a teacher for 10 years now, but before that I worked as an paraprofessional (teacher's aide) for five years.
Basically, you work under the direction of the classroom teacher. You'll probably be monitoring and helping students with special needs and learning disabilities. You may also be asked to make copies, laminate stuff...some basic clerical stuff.
Pay isn't the best, but it's not horrific, either. Nowadays, you can expect to start at around $11 or $12 per hour to start. You will only be paid for the 180 days of school, no vacation or holiday pay. You will most likely receive pretty decent benefits, though, which is a plus. You'll be expected to work the full day, but won't have to attend teacher's professional days or anything like that. You'll also have an annual review and given yearly raises, although they're usually small, like 40-50 cents per hour. You'll also get some sick time and personal days, too.
I enjoyed my time as an aide. No lesson planning or correcting. One word of advice, though...don't try to "up" the teacher, or talk in the lunchroom about a teacher doing something poorly. It will come back to haunt you.
Good luck, and ROCK ON!
I'm a father of two girls...we're leading parrallel lives!
(it happens to be for the state of Idaho but
you'll get the idea)
Instructional assistants, teacher assistants, or aides works under the direction of a teacher. They may work with students one on one, with small groups, or help with paperwork (filing, copying, getting supplies ready for projects., etc.), put up bulletin boards, and other classroom necessities or whatever else the teacher needs done--you assist the teacher. I did this for several years before I went back to school to become a teacher (and continued to work while in school).
This can be a fun job if you like working with kids. If you are interested, some school districts will even pay for you to continue your education and get your teaching credentials. So this is a great job to take if you think you would like to continue your education and become a teacher.
Regarding pay, this is determined by your contract. In my district, aides get the same holidays paid as teachers. They also get a "raise" if they earn their Associates Degree, and there are "steps" in the salary schedule so that every year they work you move up a step and earn a little more. They also get 10 paid sick days a year (that can be carried over to the next year if not used, and medical insurance (they pay a small portion of the monthly cost and the district pays the rest).
In addition to the duties described so far, my school also asks assistants to monitor the lunchroom, provide extra monitoring during standardized testing, help with field trips, substitute when teachers need to be out for only a class period or so, like to attend an ARD (no need to deal with trying to obtain a full-day sub for this).
Another thing, my school hires assistants to mainly work with special populations - they are not simply hired to help regular classroom teachers, but they do by working with special needs kids in their rooms. They may also be hired to have a specific function that may not be needed full-time. Examples: I run the ESL program at my school. I have an assistant that serves as a translator - she may do this at an ARD, parent conference meeting, making phone calls for teachers throughout the school, and to the students when they are beginning level ESL students. She also provides inclusion services to advanced level students that are in mainstream classrooms. We also have another assistant that specifically works with dislexic students - she pulls them out for a period a couple times a week, in addition to her other duties. We have several that are hired to work with the program that serves the severely mentally and physically challenged students, everything from taking them around to classes and therapy services, feeding them, changing diapers, etc. We have some that work with our behavior problem rooms - ISS and the room that kids go to if they have been removed from the regular classroom but not serious enough yet to go to alternative school.
Like others have said, a position like this is often a stepping-stone to a certified teaching position. The school contributes to their education, and even most of the colleges allow our assistants' work at the school count for college credit, specifically the "student teaching" time.
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