Teacher assistants provide instructional and clerical support for classroom teachers, allowing teachers more time for lesson planning and teaching. Teacher assistants tutor and assist children in learning class material using the teacher’s lesson plans, providing students with individualized attention. Teacher assistants also supervise students in the cafeteria, schoolyard, and hallways, or on field trips. They record grades, set up equipment, and help prepare materials for instruction. Teacher assistants also are called teacher aides or instructional aides. Some assistants refer to themselves as paraeducators or paraprofessionals.
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Educational requirements for teacher assistants vary by State or school district and range from a high school diploma to some college training, although employers increasingly prefer applicants with some college training. Teacher assistants with instructional responsibilities usually require more training than do those who do not perform teaching tasks. Federal regulations require teacher assistants with instructional responsibilities in Title I schools—those with a large proportion of students from low-income households—to meet one of three requirements: hold a 2-year or higher degree, have a minimum of 2 years of college, or pass a rigorous State or local assessment. Many schools also require previous experience in working with children and a valid driver’s license. Some schools may require the applicant to pass a background check.
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