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What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Education Assistant

By: Lindsay McKay

Published On: August 26, 2021

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming an Education Assistant

Working in the education industry can be quite challenging, but it is also extremely rewarding. The education industry has looked quite different in the past 16 months, but things are slowly getting back to a state of normalcy, and people are starting to look at innovative ways to help children learn in and outside the classroom. One such job that will play a huge role in this approach will be education or teaching assistants, as they can work in many different settings. Job opportunities include work in private/public schools, after-school programs or tutoring, home support teams, developmental disabilities programs or preschool environments.   

If you are looking for a meaningful career working with children, an education assistant program might be something you should seriously consider. Read on to learn ten things current education and teaching assistants wish they knew before becoming an education assistant. 

1. Each day is physically demanding.

Working with children involves a lot of running around, bending over, lifting kids, sitting on the floor and other physically demanding activities. It is imperative to take care of yourself, whether that is through yoga, meditation, exercising, or eating healthily. Need help clearing your mind? Check out a mindfulness course online to learn mindfulness skills for your daily life. 

2. The lesson plan is just a guide.

Time management and organization are must-have skills to have as an education assistant, but you also must be okay with throwing everything you planned out the window. Especially when working with children with special needs, you never know how much you will be able to get through and what method of teaching will work for them for every subject. 

3. How you talk to adults will change.

Talking with kids all day and working in a school causes you to converse differently. You will catch yourself using repetition, over-explaining, singing, and using school phrases like crisscross applesauce in adult conversations.

4. Everything you do or say is being seen.

Kids are sponges when they are younger, and you are an authority and educational figure in their lives. They are watching everything you do, and as an EA, you are modelling how to be a human being. How you react to situations, express or suppress your emotions, and how you interact with others will influence their behaviour.

5. Finding a mentor and support of other people in your role will make a huge difference for your mental health.

Being an educator is difficult, and many people won’t understand the challenges of working with young children or children with special needs. The best thing you can do for your mental health is to find other education assistants to be able to talk with and support each other. In BC, you can join the Education Assistants of BC Society either as a member or through their Facebook page. They are a wealth of support and information for you. Check your province for similar societies that support Education Assistants.

6. Open communication with the teacher is crucial.

As an education assistant, you work in tandem with the teacher. This is a relationship that needs constant attention to allow for the best learning experience for the children. Have trouble navigating difficult conversations? Look into taking a communication course to increase your communication skills. 

7. There are different types of contributions, every teacher may see your role differently.

Not every teacher views the role of an education assistant the same way. So, you need to be flexible and not take things personally. If this sounds challenging, don’t fret, teaching assistant courses will teach you how to be flexible and adaptable.

8. Students won’t always remember the content.

While they won’t remember what you taught them, many will never forget how you made them feel. And that can shape how they view school, relationships, authority figures, emotions, and so much more.

9. You don’t need to say yes to everything.

During your first year working at a school, you will be asked to participate in many activities and events outside the classroom. Participate in the ones that seem enjoyable or would be a good learning experience but know that your mental health and off-time are imperative for you to succeed as an education assistant.  

10. Every school district and school are different.

You will be surprised how different a school may have an approach that does not fit with your beliefs. Be sure to find a school that matches your teaching philosophy to avoid ongoing conflict and stress between you and your school, as well as you and your teacher.  

Being an education assistant can be a challenging job, but remember you are a valued member of the school community that will always be needed.  You are also redefining the classroom to be a more inclusive and safe space for all children. Keeping everything in perspective will give you daily rewards in helping students become effective learners and gain independence. 

Disclaimer

The information contained in this post is considered true and accurate as of the publication date. However, the accuracy of this information may be impacted by changes in circumstances that occur after the time of publication. Ashton College assumes no liability for any error or omissions in the information contained in this post or any other post in our blog

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