A school aide assists with the supervision of students throughout the school day. School aides are also called teacher’s aides or teaching assistants. School aides provide instructional support to the teacher, work with special education students, work with English as a Second Language students and provide reinforcement to students to help out the teacher. They instruct, assist and supervise students when the teacher is occupied.
The duties required of a school aide include enforcing administration policies and rule and governing students, providing extra assistance to students with special needs, organizing and labeling materials, displaying students’ work in an appropriate manner, distributing and collecting tests and homework assignments, grading homework and tests, organizing and supervising games and other recreational activities to promote mental, physical and social development and distributing teaching materials such as textbooks, papers, pencils and workbooks. In addition, school aides must attend staff meetings, help prepare lesson plans and maintain computers in classrooms, libraries and laboratories.
The skills required to be a school aide include active listening skills, instructing skills, reading comprehension skills, speaking skills, learning strategy skills, speech clarity, oral expression skills, speech recognition skills, oral comprehension skills, problem sensitivity skills, and communication skills. School aides must also have the ability to establish and maintain working relationships, make decisions, solve problems, think creatively, document student progress, process information and motivate students on a daily basis.
Most school aides have at least an associate’s degree in a related field. Some have acquired vocational training or at least some sort of on-the-job training prior to getting a job as a school aide. This can vary from job to job. Having experience in a related field is almost always preferred or required to work as a school aide. Some employers require you to have one to two years of relevant experience. In some states, you must pass a rigorous state or local assessment, and you must also possess a valid driver’s license.
School aides often supervise children outside of the classroom as well as inside. They may have to supervise children in the cafeteria, the schoolyard and in hallways. Most likely, if there is a scheduled field trip, the school aide will accompany the class and help supervise the students.
More than half of all school aides work part-time and work less than 40 hours per week. Most school aides that provide educational instruction usually work the nine- to 10-month school year. School aides also work in different work environments, such as preschools, religious centers, child care centers, and community centers, but the overwhelming majority work in classrooms in elementary, middle or high schools.
The average salary for a special education school aide is $45,938 per year in 2010, according to CB Salary.com. The average salary for a teaching assistant was $22,000 in December, 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.