The Path into a Career as a Teaching Assistant

When you’re applying of teaching assistant jobs, schools will usually give a specification of the type of person they’re looking to recruit. They will vary from one position to the other, but you’ll find that there are some, which have certain characteristics, typically presented across the board.

You will need to pay close attention to detail to the specifications required, as to reach the interview process, you will need to present your resume and cover letter, to be a shining example of the exact candidate the school is looking to recruit.

It’s the reason schools provide you with all the specifications they’re looking for in their candidates, as it helps them narrow down their list of applicants, for the interviewing process. You need to have your resume in the short running, to get to the final interview selection stage.

The Path into a Career as a Teaching Assistant

Whatever traits they’re looking for, you should highlight it as often as possible on your resume, and your cover letter, and when you do reach the final interview selection, remember what it is they’re looking for, and focus your conversations on those traits, identified. That will give you the best possible chance of landing the job, and getting a start as a teaching assistant.

The following will give you the typical characteristics you should have. If you can identify with these characteristics, then training to become a teaching assistant could see in a good position to get a fast start in your career.

The standard characteristics schools look for in Teaching Assistant Positions

  • Educational characteristics

Teaching assistants must start by demonstrating their own ability to learn, before they can teach. It’s expected in every school for teaching assistants to possess good grades and qualifications in the following areas:

  • Mathematics
  • English
  • Writing

Those are the basic requirements and you’ll be calling on those skills every working day.

  • Be a good communicator

Whether you’re assisting a group of pupils or being hired to assist one pupil on a one to one basis… you’ll be required to communicate with other staff, in order to develop an educational plan, to meet the child’s needs. This will be used to assist the pupil you’re providing support for, or if you’re going to work with groups of children, you’ll need to develop lesson plans to assist the teacher(s) best.

  • Organisational skills

This one major asset will be your major quality and get you hired. Organisation is what keeps a classroom orderly. The lesson plans will be structured, and there will be a schedule to maintain. Pupils need routine and to keep a routine in place, and the class running smoothly, you will need to organise everything efficiently.

  • Ability to manage a group of pupils

Even if you’re applying for a position to assist just one pupil with learning support services, they may on occasion have absences. When your student is absent, you’ll still be working, and that will be wherever the school needs your assistance. You need to have the ability to adapt and manage groups of pupils at a time.

Teachers, like everyone else have a multitude of tasks to do, and they need assistants on occasion, to help them get caught up on work they may fall behind on. That goes back to your communication assets, as when you’re not busy, you can speak to other co-workers, and offer your support to them.

The better you can communicate with others, the more efficiently the classrooms can run, and the more tasks the teachers can get done.

  • Behavioural management

This is a huge advantage for any budding teaching assistant, as behaviour in school needs to be monitored, and pupils corrected when their behaviour isn’t acceptable. There may be times, in some special needs schools, where there will be an emphasis placed in the job specifications, that the pupils may have behavioural disorders, so if one of your core attributes is with behavioural management, then that’s a huge plus to have on your cover letter and focus on at your interview.

Demonstrating your best abilities to employers and getting yourself into employment

It’s easy enough to look at the above characteristics and think you have what it takes to become a teaching assistant and land the job of your dreams. It’s not as easy as that though, as you will have to use your writing skills first, to showcase yourself to the best of your abilities, demonstrating your expertise to potential employers.

You don’t need to focus your resume to highlight your educational standards. You aren’t writing a novel on your life history, but you are capitalising on your English skills by writing the resume and cover letter, and providing evidence of your organisational skills, subliminally.

The writing demonstrates your education in that respect, and the timeliness of your submission, as well as providing all the relevant documentation in a timely and presentable manner takes care of your organisation abilities too. Also, when you are putting together your application, try to not use complicated wording. You’re going to be teaching pupils at basic English level, so you need to be able to demonstrate that you’re language is suitable to teaching pupils at whatever age group that’s applicable to the specifications of the job that’s advertised. You may want to adapt your wording if the job specification gives you an age group of the pupils you’ll be working with.

The only real thing that’s left to worry about is providing evidence of experience. Remember that not all experience needs to be in paid employment, as you can use voluntary work with children as examples of work experience. You could use personal experience of your own kids, but preferably have some experience in working with groups of children. That could be:

  • Brownies
  • Boy Scouts
  • Teaching a small group of children dance classes in your spare time
  • Sunday school trips
  • Group reading classes in your community library

Any type of experience you have of working with children should be listed, and when you attend your interview, you’ll be able to draw on those experiences and relate to the questions the panel put to you.

Answering them confidently and backing up your claims made on your application, is what will ultimately see you using your characteristics, in paid employment as a teaching assistant.