Teaching assistants come from a varied educational background and may or may not get paid. Increasingly, teaching assistants are not getting paid, due to the current economic situation.
In the UK there is a difference between classroom helpers and classroom/teaching assistants. Classroom/teaching assistants work with different levels and get paid whereas classroom helpers are generally volunteers at primary level. Quite often, helpers are parents of children in the same school. Usually, the helper commits to weekly slots to help out in the classroom. They help out with things like reading tasks, events, drama productions and school trips. Just like full time teachers, teaching assistants and helpers alike, are required to undergo Criminal Records Bureau assessment before being accepted for work.
Working as a teaching assistant is a good part-time job option. It often offers flexible hours and work only during term time. Just like full time teaching, teaching assistants should have good organizational and time management skills. It is also important to be able to have patience and a good tolerance capacity as teaching involves dealing with different personalities, capabilities and backgrounds.
Teaching Assistants might also be tasked with working with a small number of exceptional students who excel or struggle in certain areas of their studies. If the teaching assistant has bilingual skills, they might enjoy working at schools with children who do not speak English as a first language. Some Higher Level Teaching Assistants may be required to assist with lesson plans and in some cases, in the absence of the teacher, take the lesson.
In the U.S., high school and undergraduate teaching assistants sometimes do not get paid and generally do the work for the experience. Some are college graduates and participate as teaching assistants in university. This is usually the first step for people with an interest in pursuing teaching careers in the future. Quite often, training is offered to university level teaching assistants in order to bring them up to the required standard.
In some places like New Zealand, Australia, and a number of Canadian universities, graduate teaching assistants are known as “tutors”.
In all cases, most of the same strategies and procedures that full time certified teachers used are also expected to be used by teaching assistants.