Secondary school teaching assistants provide various support services to secondary school teachers such as instructional and practical support. They help with the preparation of lesson materials needed in class and reinforce instructions with students in need of extra attention. They also perform basic clerical duties, monitor the students’ learning progress and behaviour and supervise the students with and without the teacher present.
Secondary school teacher assistants typically do the following:
- Help teachers prepare lesson plans
- Set up necessary material for classes (e.g. projectors, chemistry sets, electronic equipment)
- Track student attendance and class schedules
- Review material taught in class with individual students with learning challenges
- Work with smaller groups of students for remedial teaching or reinforcing the learning process
- Escort and supervise students in field trips and school activities
- Make sure classrooms are safe and tidy before classes start
- Assist teachers with various tasks, like grading assignments and informing parents of their children’s progress
- Help students adjust, learn and socialize and report to teachers about possible behavioral issues
- Monitor students during recess, at noon hour or during the day.
The following job titles also refer to secondary school teaching assistant:
teaching assistant in secondary schools
secondary school teaching aide
secondary school paraprofessional
secondary school assistant
assistant in secondary school teaching
secondary education teaching assistant
secondary school instructional assistant
secondary school TA
Teacher assistants may spend some time outside, when students are at recess or getting on and off the bus. They may need to lift the students at certain times.
Injuries and Illnesses
Teacher assistants sometimes get injured on the job. They actively work with students, including lifting and otherwise assisting special education students, which can place them at risk for injuries such as strains.
Most teacher assistants work full time, although part-time work is common. Some monitor students on school buses before and after school. Many teacher assistants do not work during the summer; however, some work in year-round schools or assist teachers in summer school.
Teacher assistants in public schools generally need at least 2 years of college coursework or an associate’s degree. Some teacher assistants have a bachelor’s degree in fields such as education and psychology.
Some jobs may require staff to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid.
Teacher assistants who help students with special needs usually require specialized training and experience.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Secondary school teaching assistant is a Skill level 2 occupation.
Secondary school teaching assistant career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to secondary school teaching assistant.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of secondary school teaching assistant. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of secondary school teaching assistant with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of secondary school teaching assistant.
- Manage children’s problems: Promote the prevention, early detection, and management of children`s problems, focusing on developmental delays and disorders, behavioural problems, functional disabilities, social stresses, mental disorders including depression, and anxiety disorders.
- Guarantee students’ safety: Ensure all students falling under an instructor or other person’s supervision are safe and accounted for. Follow safety precautions in the learning situation.
- Monitor student’s behaviour: Supervise the student’s social behaviour to discover anything unusual. Help solve any issues if necessary.
- Assess the development of youth: Evaluate the different aspects of development needs of children and young people.
- Compile course material: Write, select or recommend a syllabus of learning material for the students enrolled in the course.
- Observe student’s progress: Follow up on students’ learning progress and assess their achievements and needs.
- Manage student relationships: Manage the relations between students and between student and teacher. Act as a just authority and create an environment of trust and stability.
- Support the positiveness of youths: Help children and young people to assess their social, emotional and identity needs and to develop a positive self image, enhance their self esteem and improve their self reliance.
- Adapt teaching to student’s capabilities: Identify the learning struggles and successes of students. Select teaching and learning strategies that support students’ individual learning needs and goals.
- Apply teaching strategies: Employ various approaches, learning styles, and channels to instruct students, such as communicating content in terms they can understand, organising talking points for clarity, and repeating arguments when necessary. Use a wide range of teaching devices and methodologies appropriate to the class content, the learners’ level, goals, and priorities.
- Maintain students’ discipline: Make sure students follow the rules and code of behaviour established in the school and take the appropriate measures in case of violation or misbehaviour.
- Teach secondary education class content: Instruct students in the theory and practice of the secondary school course of your specialisation, taking into account the age of the students and modern teaching methods.
- Provide teacher support: Assist teachers in classroom instruction by providing and preparing lesson materials, monitoring the students during their work and helping them in their learning where necessary.
- Support children’s wellbeing: Provide an environment that supports and values children and helps them to manage their own feelings and relationships with others.
- Perform playground surveillance: Observe students’ recreational activities to ensure student safety and well-being and intervene when necessary.
- Give constructive feedback: Provide founded feedback through both criticism and praise in a respectful, clear, and consistent manner. Highlight achievements as well as mistakes and set up methods of formative assessment to evaluate work.
- Secondary school procedures: The inner workings of a secondary school, such as the structure of the relevant education support and management, the policies, and the regulations.
- Provide lesson materials: Ensure that the necessary materials for teaching a class, such as visual aids, are prepared, up-to-date, and present in the instruction space.
- Assist students in their learning: Support and coach students in their work, give learners practical support and encouragement.
- Encourage students to acknowledge their achievements: Stimulate students to appreciate their own achievements and actions to nurture confidence and educational growth.
Optional knowledge and skills
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of secondary school teaching assistant. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Adolescent socialisation behaviour: The social dynamics through which young adults live amongst each other, expressing their likes and dislikes and the rules of communication between generations.
- Disability types: The nature and types of disabilities affecting the human beings such as physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional or developmental and the specific needs and access requirements of disabled people.
- Learning difficulties: The learning disorders some students face in an academic context, especially Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, and concentration deficit disorders.
- Pedagogy: The discipline that concerns the theory and practice of education including the various instructional methods for educating individuals or groups.
- Teamwork principles: The cooperation between people characterised by a unified commitment to achieving a given goal, participating equally, maintaining open communication, facilitating effective usage of ideas etc.
- Curriculum objectives: The goals identified in curricula and defined learning outcomes.
- First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of secondary school teaching assistant. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Assist in the organisation of school events: Provide assistance in the planning and organisation of school events, such as the school’s open house day, a sports game or a talent show.
- Identify learning disorders: Observe and detect symptoms of Specific Learning Difficulties such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, and dysgraphia in children or adult learners. Refer the student to the correct specialised educational expert if necessary.
- Consult student’s support system: Communicate with multiple parties, including teachers and the family of the student, to discuss the student’s behaviour or academic performance.
- Consult students on learning content: Take students’ opinions and preferences into consideration when determining learning content.
- Prepare lesson content: Prepare content to be taught in class in accordance with curriculum objectives by drafting exercises, researching up-to-date examples etc.
- Recognise indicators of gifted student: Observe students during instruction and identify signs of exceptionally high intelligence in a student, such as showing remarkable intellectual curiosity or showing restlessness due to boredom and or feelings of not being challenged.
- Escort students on a field trip: Accompany students on an educational trip outside the school environment and ensure their safety and cooperation.
- Arrange parent teacher conference: Set up joined and individual meetings with students’ parents to discuss their child’s academic progress and general well-being.
- Monitor educational developments: Monitor the changes in educational policies, methodologies and research by reviewing relevant literature and liaising with education officials and institutions.
- Prepare youths for adulthood: Work with children and young people to identify the skills and abilities they will need to become effective citizens and adults and to prepare them for independence.
- Assess students: Evaluate the students’ (academic) progress, achievements, course knowledge and skills through assignments, tests, and examinations. Diagnose their needs and track their progress, strengths, and weaknesses. Formulate a summative statement of the goals the student achieved.
- Assist students with equipment: Provide assistance to students when working with (technical) equipment used in practice-based lessons and solve operational problems when necessary.
- Promote the safeguarding of young people: Understand safeguarding and what should be done in cases of actual or potential harm or abuse.
- Keep records of attendance: Keep track of the pupils who are absent by recording their names on a list of absentees.
- Work with virtual learning environments: Incorporate the use of online learning environments and platforms into the process of instruction.
- Advise on lesson plans: Analyse policy issues which impact on students’ experience of education. Advise on the ways in which lesson plans for specific lessons can be improved in order to reach education goals, engage the students and adhere to the curriculum.
- Perform classroom management: Maintain discipline and engage students during instruction.
- Liaise with educational staff: Communicate with the school staff such as teachers, teaching assistants, academic advisors, and the principal on issues relating to students’ well-being. In the context of a university, liaise with the technical and research staff to discuss research projects and courses-related matters.
- Maintain relations with children’s parents: Inform children`s parents of the activities planned, program`s expectations and children`s individual progress.
ISCO group and title
5312 – Teachers’ aides
- Secondary school teaching assistant – ESCO
- Teacher Assistants : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Teacher Assistant Job Description Template | Workable
- Elementary and Secondary School Teacher Assistants – StudentsScholarship.org
- Featured image: Photo by Van Tay Media on Unsplash