School Aide Job Description
School aides usually work with children who qualify for special education programs, including children with physical disabilities or learning disabilities. They may also work as a general assistant to teachers in a school setting, performing duties such as monitoring the children during lunch and in the hallways. They could also find themselves employed by the main office as aides to a school’s administrative staff. School aides are predominantly employed by elementary, middle, and high schools. They can also find employment at preschools and nurseries. Their hours follow the academic schedule, so they usually have weekends, holidays, and summers off.
An entry-level position, many school aides are studying to complete their teaching degrees. School aides may work under the supervision of the special education office or under the direct supervision of a single teacher. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for teacher assistants, which includes school aides, is set to rise 8 percent through 2026.
School Aide Duties and Responsibilities
School aides perform various tasks as they provide support to teachers. We broke down several school aide job descriptions to come up with the following list of the most common school aide duties and responsibilities:
Work on Student’s Individualized Education Plan
Students with special needs have individualized education plans, known as IEPs, based on their specific needs. These plans are created by teachers, parents, administrators, and the assigned school aide. School aides assist teachers in implementing their student’s IEP.
Help Teacher with Pre-lesson Preparation
School aides help teachers prepare the classroom for lessons, performing tasks such as setting up the projector or passing out materials students will need to complete the lesson. These tasks vary depending on the lesson and the school aide’s specialization.
Assist with Clerical Tasks
School aides help teachers with the record keeping tasks, such as taking attendance, and may grade assignments in class while the teacher moves on to a new lesson.
Reinforce Lessons in One-on-One or Small Group Settings
Some school aides help the teacher to keep the class running smoothly; others work one-on-one with a special needs student. School aides who work directly with a student present the lesson materials in a way the student can grasp. School aides who work with a class help their teachers facilitate group work and answer questions during individual work time.
Supervise Students During and Between Classes
Many schools employ school aides specifically to monitor students while they’re in the lunchroom or in the hall between classes. School aides assigned to an elementary classroom supervise children during recess.
School Aide Skills
Have a passion for helping children? Passion, empathy, and patience are especially important in empowering special needs students, encouraging them, and making learning fun. Special education students rely on their school aides to help them navigate the academic and personal challenges they face. Other traits employers look for in candidates for school aide positions include:
- Using basic data entry and spreadsheet skills to assist teachers with clerical tasks such as attendance and grading
- Collaborating with teachers, parents, and administrators in the creation of individualized education plans
- Understanding the needs of special needs students
- Building trust and rapport with students
- Teaching students using creative or alternative methods
- Maintaining classroom harmony through the use of conflict resolution skills
- Being certified in CPR
School Aide Tools of the trade
People interested in becoming school aides should familiarize themselves with the following:
- Computers, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices – come equipped with universal access functionality to use downloaded assistive technologies
- Assistive technology – there are many new technologies available to help special needs students, including speech recognition, screen-reading tools, Braille displays, text-to-speech solutions, sound amplifiers, closed-captioning applications, e-books, and portable eye-gaze devices that use students’ pupil movements for everything the rest of us use computer mice or our fingers for
- Basic medical equipment – special needs students may require special medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and oxygen machines
School Aide Education and Training
Most states require school aides to have at least 60 college credits, or the equivalent of an associate’s degree. Coursework may include learning how to create lesson plans, implement assistive technology, operate basic medical equipment, and take care of students with special needs.
School Aide Salary
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national median salary for school aides is $25,410. Those in the top 10 percent make above $38,820, while those in the bottom 10 percent make below $18,120.
School Aide Resources
Do you want to start your career in education as a school aide? If so, check out the list of resources below:
Association of American Educators – Founded in 1994, the Association of American Educators is one of the quickest-growing, non-union organizations for educators. Its website has professional resources for educators of all levels, including a regularly updated blog and a career center to help members find employment.
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development – The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development has more than 115,000 members in more than 128 countries. While this organization is not specifically for school aides, it is a great organization for those who want to explore more advanced positions in the field of education.
A Teacher’s Aide – This website has every kind of teaching supply you could imagine. It also has teaching tools designed specifically for special education students, making it a good resource for school aides.
A Handbook for Teaching Assistants: Teachers and Assistants Working Together – This book is a wonderful guide for those just getting started as school aides. It gives a detailed breakdown of a school aide’s tasks and tips for best completing each task.
How to be an Outstanding Primary Teacher Assistant – This book is perfect for school aides who work in a preschool or elementary school. It gives great tips on teaching groups of children and maintaining group harmony.
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