Duties and responsibilities
A special education teaching assistant has the important working in schools, helping children with a wide range of severe learning, physical or behavioural difficulties. They may work in normal schools to support the children, their families and other professionals who are working with them (e.g., teachers or psychologists) t0 develop the child’s self-esteem and their communication, literacy, academic and social skills. Or, they may work in a special needs school, alongside teachers. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Supporting schoolwork under the supervision of the teacher
- Preparing learning resources as requested by the teacher
- Encouraging children’s confidence, self esteem and independence
- Helping children understand instructions, through repetition, re-phrasing or demonstrating.
- Putting into practice individual education, social, behavioural and personal care programmes
- Encouraging children to communicate with one another and with staff
- Providing feedback and assistance to teachers
- Assisting children during therapy sessions
To become a special education teachers assistant, you need to earn an associate’s degree in education, assistant teaching, or a related subject like elementary education. You then need to complete an internship as a teacher’s assistant and take any tests required in your state for teacher’s assistant licensure.
Skills and relevant work experience
- Verbal communication skills as special education teacher assistants will need to communicate with children who find communication difficult. They also need to communicate with parents and teachers
- Physical fitness, as special education teacher assistants are regularly required to stand, walk and sit. They may also have to kneel, crouch, crawl and potentially lift children
- Teamwork skills, as special education teachers assistants must be able to work as part of a cohesive team with students, teachers and parents
- Problem solving skills are essential in order to provide the most effective interventions when a child does not understand the information when it was presented in the first way
Typically, special education teachers assistants will work during school hours. They may have to stay later to prepare for the next day, meet with parents or assist with getting children on and off busses. They may work part time or full time. Often, they will have the full summer and winter holidays off. But they may decide to help at summer schools during the holidays.
According to salary.com, the median annual salary for special education teaching assistants in the United States is $26,887. The lowest 10% earn around $19,163 and the highest 10% earn more than $41,933 per year.
Special education teaching assistants may progress to become more specialized in a specific area of special education, such as autism or down syndrome. Some teaching assistants may go back to college to achieve the relevant qualifications to become a special education teacher.