Finding the New Normal as an Education Assistant During COVID

Well, 2020 has certainly thrown all of us a number of unanticipated curves, hasn’t it? It’s unlikely that any of us looked into our Magic 8-ball future-telling toy on New Year’s Eve 2019 and saw “global pandemic” as one of the options! But, the human spirit is strong and life does go on. But, what life will look like going forward is the element of this year that is filled with the most questions.

Working in an education environment is definitely uncertain in these times. Anyone who has taken an education assistant course who is preparing to start, or return to, work is likely wondering what to expect. By its very nature of the role, teaching assistants are face-to-face with others on a daily basis. This definitely presents some challenges without certain answers.

The new normal

Those currently enrolled in teaching assistant courses may also be caught up in some uncertainty. Will there still be a need for people who have taken an education assistant course? The short answer is, yes. The longer answer – about what things might look like – is definitely more complex and to a degree, unanswerable at this point in time.

We know that schools will have enhanced cleaning procedures and more physical distancing standards in many situations, but what things will look like for education assistants is largely unknown. There will have to be some fast and creative thinking, when the return to the classroom comes, in order for everyone to adapt.

For example, some students who have a teaching assistant are very physically affectionate and don’t understand the dangers of COVID or the need to take precautions. Teaching assistants will need to reach into their tool bag to come up with fun ways to follow procedures implemented in their school system while keeping students engaged.

The need for education assistants will continue

As BC (and other provinces) prepare for a very different back-to-school season, one thing is clear, education assistants who have taken teaching assistant courses are still very much in demand. A quick search of the Make a Future site – home to careers in BC education – shows more than 400 opportunities for education assistants throughout the province. That’s right now – during COVID. Demand is only likely to increase as the pandemic eventually eases off in the future.

Those who haven’t yet taken their education assistant course will find that now is the perfect time to take advantage of the flexibility of online learning through Ashton College’s Live Online education options. The teaching assistant courses in the Education Assistant Program run for about 10 months in the full-time program and about a year-and-a-half for the part-time program. These education assistant courses are filled with  skills and information needed to make a difference in the integrated education environment from day one on the job. Plus, with the practicum component of the courses, students will be able to take their education and apply it hands-on in a real-life environment to gain a feel for their skills before they are on-the-job.

If you’ve already completed your teaching assistant courses, take time now to prepare your resume, reach out to others on social media platforms like LinkedIn and build the connections that will help you land the job you’re hoping for. Education assistants are needed. There’s no doubt about that! It’s just a matter of time as to when more and more are able to join the workforce.

Waiting for the future plan

Some schools won’t be going back to “business as usual”; in fact, most of them won’t. It’s a different world we’re living in, but the great thing for those who have taken teaching assistant courses is that they know “normal” is just a setting on the dryer. Few people are as prepared to adapt to change as education assistants.

In the meantime, some education assistants will be able to work from home or distanced locations or adapted school environments. There is no single plan BC’s education assistants can prepare for because school districts will be learning as they go this year. The certainty is that the need exists and will continue to grow.

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