Teaching assistants work at a range of academic levels, from preschool to university. Their duties vary by position, but they usually assist with both academic and administrative tasks.
In preschools, teaching assistants often take part in the instruction portion of the day since there is much less instructional time at this level. They usually assist with art activities and play, and they constantly supervise the children during free time.
In elementary schools, teaching assistants are often assigned to one or more students in a classroom. These students typically have special needs, so most of the teacher assistant’s focus will be on them. In an effort to not single out any one student, teacher assistants will often participate and assist with the whole class. They typically don't do direct instruction, but instead assist the teacher by helping students who have questions or by doing administrative tasks such as grading papers.
In colleges and universities, teaching assistants are often called TAs and help professors in many ways. Sometimes, they may teach full classes or be responsible for a certain portion of the class. They usually grade papers and other assignments and interact with students who have issues or concerns.
To become a teaching assistant, one typically must have teaching assistant certification; these certification courses are often provided through community colleges. Some institutions also accept other certifications such as a CDA or associate’s degree in a related field. Many times, graduate school students will work as TAs in university as part of their required training.
Teaching Assistant (TA) Tasks
- Address behavioral problems, identify discipline issues and create a learning environment.
- Adapt and design activities, assignments, lectures and course plans.
- Teach courses to reach curriculum objectives.
- Attend trainings, meetings and functions for the organization.