If working with children appeals to you, but you don't want the responsibility of leading a classroom, consider becoming a teacher's assistant. The credentials vary by state, but the skills you need are the same across the board: assistants must be patient, creative, communicative, supportive and organized so that students and teachers benefit from their help. Whether writing a resume or filling out an application, a teacher's assistant should give detailed examples of her skills in action.
With more schools adopting technology into the classroom setting, it's important that assistants are up on the latest educational computer programs, audio visual aids and tablet apps. List ways you've helped students use technology, such as explaining how to download information and setup applications, or the ways you've tutored students in the classroom using a tablet for more visuals or supplemental information. If this is your first assistant job, describe your computer skills and what programs and systems with which you are proficient.
No matter what your previous job was, you had to use your communication skills. List the specific skills you used on a daily basis, such as listening, gathering facts, researching, interviewing and public speaking. All these attributes are important in the classroom setting. If you have assistant experience already, describe where you used your communication skills most, such as with parents, in setting up lesson plans with the teacher, helping children learn academically and confronting social issues. Make sure to add that you understand how critical sensitivity, fairness, rule enforcement and patience are in and out of the classroom. You can also give an example of ways you've helped children deal with academic or social stress.
At the lower school level, you need hands-on creative skills that speak to children's sense of wonder and desire to learn. List fun science, math and reading projects that incorporated art materials. At the older level, list creative ways you've adapted information to different learning styles -- whether that means with children who need extra help or more enrichment on a lesson. State your understanding of classroom dynamics, seating placement, the effects of lively demonstrations and how setting up engaging bulletin board displays get children to think about their actions. Also, list your skills when it comes to rewarding and disciplining children. Explain how you have been successful in redirecting or motivating children.
Being organized is a must-have skill when dealing with grades, homework, a child's progress, assessments and parent communication. List ways you are able to make a teacher's life easier, such as helping grade papers, checking in homework, collecting field-trip money and permission slips and keeping track of awards and attendance, for example. If you are strong in cleaning and tidying, say that also. Younger students especially need help wiping down tables, replenishing supplies, labeling materials and putting books back neatly for the next use.
Motivating children to learn is a huge component of a teacher's job. And an assistant, you can help greatly with this task by quickly learning to recognize a child's interests, her individual learning style and any disabilities that might hinder academic success. Skills needed to do these things include knowing when to stop and access a situation, figuring out what key factors motivate a student and deciding how certain children can benefit from leadership roles. List any creative ways you were able to change a student's perception or grades by using motivation tactics.
2016 Salary Information for Teacher Assistants
Teacher assistants earned a median annual salary of $25,410 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, teacher assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,520, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $31,990, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,308,100 people were employed in the U.S. as teacher assistants.
Based in Los Angeles, Lisa Finn has been writing professionally for 20 years. Her print and online articles appear in magazines and websites such as "Spa Magazine," "L.A. Parent," "Business," the Famous Footwear blog and many others. She also ghostwrites for mompreneurs and business owners who appear regularly on shows such as Ricki Lake, HGTV, Carson Daly and The Today Show.