Becoming an elementary teacher's aide is a bit like trying out the frying pan before you jump into the fire. If working with children appeals to you, becoming a teacher's aide can be the ideal way to see if pursuing a career in education is right for you. As a teacher's aide, you'll perform many of the same duties as the classroom teacher but receive more guidance and have more opportunities to work with individual students.
A key part of a job as a teacher's aide in an elementary classroom is to help individual children understand directions and concepts. You'll likely spend much of each class period sitting with students while working with them on reading comprehension, addition, handwriting and other basic skills. Students who have been identified as having a learning disability sometimes have their own teacher's aide who works with them throughout the entire day.
Managing a classroom of 30 energetic elementary school students is not an easy task for one person. As a teacher's aide, you'll help the teacher keep students focused on learning rather than how many times they can throw their pencils at the ceiling before the pointy end sticks in the acoustic tile. You'll serve as the extra pair of eyes that prevents misbehavior before it starts. Like the teacher, you'll teach young students to communicate effectively and to follow the classroom rules and procedures.
Teachers spend hours grading students' papers, entering data into computers, maintaining portfolios and doing other clerical tasks. As an aide, you can expect to do the same to lighten the teacher's load. It could be your job to take attendance each morning or maintain records of students' reading fluency progress. It might fall to you to make the arrangements for a class field trip, make copies of letters to send home to parents or cut letters out for a bulletin board display on uppercase and lowercase letters.
Teacher's aides not only help with classroom management but also with overall supervision. Some schools require assistance from teacher's aides in the cafeteria, on the playground and in the pick-up line after school. Teacher's aides often monitor the restroom, hallways and help small students walk in lines down the halls in an orderly manner.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.