You might consider becoming a teacher as your next career step or as you start out your professional life. You can make a difference in many people's lives in the public or private sector. However, first, you should gain experience as a teaching assistant to enhance your job search and increase your opportunities.
Why a Teaching Assistant?
A teaching assistant position gives you an inroad to a teaching job, much like a college internship. This type of job lets you experience what it's like to be a full-time teacher firsthand. If you're not sure you want to become a teacher, assisting a teacher who has years of experience can help you evaluate whether you have the desire, patience and skills to enter the profession.
Starting out as an assistant opens the door to other possibilities if you decide that full-time teaching isn't for you. That's because you gain a certain set of transferrable skills that prepares you for other professions.
As a teaching assistant, you learn to be patient with your charges. You have to handle a classroom filled with a few dozen children, all of whom clamor for your attention. You have to remain calm and cool for your students while working under pressure.
Communication skills are an absolute must as you have to make learning fun for everyone. You must relate to children on their level. You must also talk to parents as you describe what their child's day was like.
You learn to manage your time well because you need to move from one lesson to the next on a daily basis. That means you organize your routine in an effective manner. Lesson plans must be complete, and you have to prepare yourself for school at the beginning of each school day.
If you decide you don't want to teach in a formal setting, there are other possibilities after you finish your time as a teaching assistant. You could try tutoring or become a higher-level assistant, camp counselor or a daycare center employee. You might even start your own business with a daycare or as a freelance tutor.
A teaching interview is somewhat different from a regular interview when it comes to your job search. If you're ready to move on from being an assistant to becoming a full-fledged teacher, you should get a good reference from the teacher for whom you worked.
Prepare to answer questions about why you want to become a teacher and what talents you bring to the classroom. Consider writing out your answer and rehearsing it until it sounds natural and as if you're having a conversation.
Bring lesson plan samples and a classroom management plan with you as part of your portfolio. This shows you have concrete ideas about how to make your students succeed. Be ready to answer questions that your principal may have about your lessons and management ideas.
Once you become a teaching assistant, you get to see a profession that isn't boring. Because you teach different kids from various backgrounds, you get to enrich several minds at once in a dynamic setting that never has the same day twice.
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