Classroom Assistant Job Description

A classroom assistant, also known as a paraeducator or paraprofessional, works under the supervision of a certified teacher. Whereas the teacher is responsible for introducing new material to students, the classroom assistant works with individual students or a small group of students after the lesson to reinforce the concepts taught and help them master the material. Classroom assistants provide the teacher with valuable feedback regarding student progress and help the teacher grade tests or homework. Part-time and full-time jobs are available, and some classroom assistants work year-round or assist with summer school, depending on teacher needs.

 

Classroom Assistant Duties and Responsibilities

A classroom assistant’s daily duties and responsibilities can vary, but certain core tasks are universal. Based on our review of job ads, some of these tasks are:

Reteaching and Reinforcing Concepts

Students who are struggling due to learning disabilities can benefit from individual instruction or small-group instruction after the teacher has taught the lesson. Classroom assistants reteach parts of the lesson to help the students understand or give helpful feedback to students who need encouragement.

Help Students Develop Appropriate Social Skills

Because a large part of the classroom assistant’s schedule is devoted to working directly with children, helping children develop their social skills is important. Classroom assistants provide direct guidance to students or implement social learning activities to promote these behaviors.

Assisting with Classroom Set-up and Maintenance

The supervising teacher may ask the assistant to decorate bulletin boards, gather resources, move desks and chairs, or pass out learning aids. In addition, the teacher may request the assistant make copies of worksheets, help with grading tasks, or laminate and cut out learning aids.

Supervising Children as Needed throughout the School

Classroom assistants may be asked to monitor school crosswalks before or after school, monitor in the cafeteria during lunchtime, or actively supervise playground activities. Their schedules may change, depending on urgent needs.

 

Classroom Assistant Skills and Qualifications

Classroom assistants primarily work with children or adolescents to offer academic, physical, and behavioral support. A strict vow of confidentiality and the ability to respect each student as an individual is vital in this profession. Employers also seek applicants with these abilities:

  • Reading, writing, and mathematics – because classroom assistants support students’ academic learning, superior reading, writing, and math skills are needed. In addition, they might have to take special training if they work with students with special needs, such as seizure management or tube feeding
  • Disciplinary best practices – when working with children, it’s important to understand and implement discipline in a manner that is consistent with the school’s discipline policy; also, some students will have mandated behavior plans that are required to be reviewed and followed
  • Conflict resolution skills – inevitably, a classroom assistant will encounter conflict between students. Whether the conflict takes place in the hallway, in the cafeteria, on the playground, or in the classroom, conflict resolution skills are necessary for successful outcomes
  • Interpersonal skills – at different times, a classroom assistant will be called upon to speak with different people; for example, the assistant may have to attend meetings with administrators, counselors, and parents to offer feedback on a student’s progress
  • Patience – children can act out in ways that try an adult’s patience or have issues focusing and learning; it’s vital that a classroom assistant is able to be patient but firm in these situations so that the student doesn’t escalate his behavior
  • Resourcefulness – when caring for children’s needs or helping them learn, sometimes the assistant will have to think outside-of-the-box to accomplish tasks and goals

 

Tools of the Trade

A classroom assistant often uses the following technology and tools:

  • Computer software programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Laminating machine
  • Industrial paper cutter
  • Student attendance software

 

Classroom Assistant Education and Training 

The majority of school districts desire applicants to have completed at least two years of college coursework or an associate’s degree with coursework in education. Classroom assistants who want to work with special-needs students often have to pass a skills-based test, depending on state requirements.

 

Classroom Assistant Salary and Outlook 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the national median annual salary for a classroom assistant as $26,260 with a median hourly wage of $12.63. A classroom assistant in the 10th percentile earns approximately $18,460 a year (or $8.88 an hour), while the highest-paid in the field make $39,780 a year ($19.13 hourly).

According to the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, over 1,308,100 classroom assistants are employed in the United States. Projected employment growth for this sector is 8 percent from 2016 to 2026.

 

Classroom Assistant Helpful Resources

To help you decide whether to pursue a career as a classroom assistant, it’s useful to gather as much information as you can. We searched the web to find some of the top industry resources. Click on the following links to learn more.

National Resource Center for Paraeducators (NRCP) – The NRCP will be most helpful to classroom assistants via its online community and paraprofessional information. Direct training for paraprofessionals is also available.

National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD) – The NJCLD provides the most current information and advice related to learning disabilities and ADHD. Resources include articles, multimedia, expert columns, essays, and forums.

Paraeducator Resource and Learning Center (PRLC) – The PRLC offers classroom assistants vital information and resources in six topic areas: teamwork, inclusive education, cultural sensitivity, characteristics of disabled children, roles and responsibilities of paraeducators, and implementing teacher-planned instruction.

The Paraprofessional’s Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms – Author Julie Causton-Theoharis Ph.D. created this guide to give paraprofessionals a resource for user-friendly, practical content to help them succeed in the inclusive classroom.

Behavior Support Strategies for Education Paraprofessionals Written especially for education paraprofessionals by Will Henson, this book covers everything from understanding the underlying reasons for challenging behavior to specific behavior management skills.

 

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