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Like teachers, teaching assistants have a challenging job. Teaching assistants must wear several hats, including those of tutor and disciplinarian. Interviewers, who might include the teacher and the principal, want to know that you are equal to the challenge of being a support person in an academically effective classroom.
As a teacher's assistant, you work closely with the classroom teacher. For the classroom to run smoothly, you must communicate effectively with that teacher, as well as other staff members and parents. The interviewers want to find out if you work well with others. You might be asked a question such as this one from the University of California at San Diego: "What kind of teachers would you prefer to work with? Why?" This question is designed to help the interviewers find out what sort of personalities you feel comfortable with so they can determine whether you and the lead teacher are a good match. A suitable answer to this question is, "I enjoy working with a variety of teachers. However, I particularly enjoy working with people who encourage me to learn new skills."
As a teacher's aide, part of your responsibilities entail helping students in a one-on-one situation to master skills they are having difficulty understanding. Your interviewer will assess your knowledge of the content areas you will work in. She might ask you to tell her how you would help a student solve for x given a specific problem. She might ask which periods of history most interest you and why. These questions are designed to evaluate whether you have the ability to assist students who are struggling.
A teacher's aide often has a significant influence on the classroom climate. An effective teacher's aide knows the school and classroom rules and enforces them consistently. Teaching assistants often supervise students in the cafeteria, on the playground and in hallways. You might be asked questions such as, "How do you see your role in the classroom" and "What would you do if a student told you that he didn't need to follow your directions because you are not the teacher?" Reassure the interviewer that you will take an active role in discipline by letting her know that you see yourself as a support to the classroom teacher and you will implement her rules consistently, just as parents must present a united front to their children. Tell the interviewer that you respond to children in a calm and firm manner and do not engage students when they attempt to argue.
Ability to Teach
Even if you get along well with others, are skilled in content areas and are a good disciplinarian, you must convince the interviewer that you offer children academic assistance under challenging circumstances. The interviewer might ask, "How will you help a student with his assignment if he refuses to do more than the bare minimum of work?" This question gives you the opportunity to show that you have patience, perseverance and high expectations for students. Tell the interviewer that you understand that some students lack confidence in their abilities and that you will work to rebuild their skill levels and confidence. Let the interviewer know that you will provide the student with the support he needs to complete the assignment and will offer encouragement and strategies for academic success.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.