Applying for Aide Jobs

What is a Classroom Aide?
Classroom aides, sometimes called Instructional Assistants (IAs) or paraprofessionals, represent a growing type of staff in K–12 classrooms across the United States. They provide support and instruction to students under the supervision of a teacher.

The duties of classroom aides include offering clerical support to the primary teacher by making copies and grading tests, reviewing and grading homework assignments, and keeping health and attendance records of students. Classroom aides also can provide individualized attention to students, teach instructional material planned by primary teachers in their absence, and keep the classroom neat and organized. They might attend to students on playgrounds, in lunchrooms, and other activities outside the classroom.

Some teachers see their aides as a full partner in their classroom. They include them in planning and respect their opinion and insight. They may even be considered a co-teacher.

Can Being an Aide Lead to a Teaching Job?
In some school buildings, most aides are fully certified teachers waiting to get a full-time teaching position, so the competition is very stiff when a position opens. In other cases, the aides have very little educational background, so you could be considered over-qualified and not get the position.

Because aides are staff members, principals often don’t see them as needing or wanting a full-time teaching position. So, they may not think of that person as someone to hire. Many districts offer an IA job to someone who is certified, but for whom a full-time teaching position is not available. Being an IA in those districts is the fast track to a teaching position.

The best way to know the situation is to talk with other teachers in the school or district and to ask the person interviewing you. Do not be afraid to say, “I’d love to take that position for a year, but I am supporting myself (my family) and cannot afford it. Is another position available?”

Also, visit the school. Ask to sit in on classes that have an aide. Get to know an aide in the school system so you can ask questions and learn more about what you would be doing.

How to Become an Aide
The educational requirements for classroom aides vary by state and school district. Most employers require a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Classroom aides employed by Title I schools, however, are required to have a minimum of a 2-year degree and 2 years of college, or to pass a state or local assessment exam. All classroom aides must complete on-the-job training, which includes learning classroom procedures, school system policies, classroom instructional material, and computer skills.

The skills of classroom aides can vary from being specialized in specific subject areas such as science and computers to those needed to provide individualized attention to English learners, students with special needs, students needing intervention, and Pre-K students during feeding and playtime.

Applications for teaching assistants or teaching aides are available from school district websites, where you also will find job descriptions and other information.

Read How to Be a Super TA for some insights about the role of teacher’s aide or teaching assistant.

Read about co-teaching and working with a paraprofessional:
Co-Teaching: 201, How to Support ELLs
Andrea Honigsfeld and Maria Dove
Use these guidelines to jumpstart co-taught lessons by general education and ELL specialists.

Countdown to Co-Teaching: Are You Ready?
Lisa Lawter
Co-teaching is one way to reach the diverse needs of all students. Effective co-teaching models and advice on getting started are shared in this article.

Working with a Paraprofessional
Gina Riley
Whether you are a classroom teacher or a paraprofessional, learn the best ways to make the most of your partnership.