Teaching Assistant Skills: Definition And Examples

Updated 22 August 2023

Teaching assistants are professionals who help full-time classroom teachers manage and organise classrooms. They have a variety of skills to help support the teachers they work with effectively. Understanding what skills teaching assistants have, how you can develop them and how to show them in your professional career can help you get roles in this profession and excel in the classroom. In this article, we discuss what teaching skills are, explore examples of skills, talk about how to improve these skills and show you how to highlight your skills in different professional scenarios.

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What Are Teaching Assistant Skills?

Teaching assistant skills are how teaching assistant affect their environment to create lasting changes in the lives of their students. They include a unique combination of leadership, communication, teaching and other skills you can use. Teaching assistants help full-time certified classroom teachers manage their classrooms by creating an organised and positive environment in the classroom. They might have duties such as creating lesson plans, cleaning classrooms and monitoring students. They may also have responsibilities, such as working with individual students to improve learning and skills acquisition.

Related: How To Become A Teacher Assistant (With Skills And FAQs)

Examples Of Teaching Assistant Skills

Teaching assistants use a variety of skills to help their students and classroom teachers succeed. Below are examples of skills teaching assistants can develop to help them in their careers:

Creativity

Creativity is an important skill for teaching assistants because the field of education changes daily. Students need different support based on the goals of the classroom, the students' backgrounds, the teacher's background and your background. Creating solutions to challenges in the classroom can help you promote a positive environment because you can remove negative situations quickly, helping everyone to focus on their roles in the classroom. Creativity can also help you create lesson plans for students that help them learn because they are more interesting and allow your students to learn by using the methods that help them the most.

Related: What Are Creativity Skills? (With Examples And Benefits)

Communication

Communication is one of the most important skills a teaching assistant can have. During a regular workday, they may communicate with their classroom teacher, students in their class and administrative staff. Knowing how to communicate effectively can help a teaching assistant promote the education of students and allow the certified teacher in the classroom to perform their duties more efficiently. Communication is both active listening and sharing your ideas, so practice both to develop your communication skills. For example, if a teacher expresses the need a student has and you can meet that need, you are supporting the teacher's goals.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

First aid and CPR

When you apply to be a teaching assistant, it is important to communicate any relevant certifications you have. As a teaching assistant, you might have students with health conditions such as asthma, food allergies or epilepsy. First aid and CPR certification are valuable skills for a teaching assistant as they display your preparedness to react when a student may become ill or sustain an injury. Both skills are important for a variety of circumstances arising from student and teacher health. For example, a student may become injured during a break from class, so understanding first aid basics can help them.

Leadership

Even though you are a teaching assistant working with a full-time certified classroom teacher, leadership is an important skill. Part of the responsibilities of teaching assistants is to teach lessons to students and be role models for classroom behaviours and skills you want students to know. For example, you can show students how to behave in the classroom by following the rules you, your students and your teacher create together. Leadership is also about how you support everyone in your professional environment, such as your teacher. For example, you can help them promote learning by creating materials for them to use.

Related: What Is The Importance Of Leadership In The Workplace?

Lesson planning

Another skill teaching assistants use is lesson planning. This is when you take the material the teacher or school wants students to learn and create individual lessons. This involves skills such as writing, creativity and an understanding of who your students are. For example, if you are teaching students in primary school basic letter sounds and phonics, creating lessons that help them identify the sounds of letters in a fun and exciting way can help you and your teacher reach learning goals. The lessons for older students are different because they need different support from you and the certified teacher.

How To Improve Teaching Assistant Skills?

Below are tips you can use to improve your skills as a teaching assistant:

1. Practice writing lesson plans

When you are not working in the school, you can practice writing lesson plans. When you do so, determine a learning goal for your students and see the most creative and helpful way you can teach that lesson to the students. As you create the lesson plan, challenge yourself by using the surrounding materials in your home. For example, you may only have your learning goal and your voice to teach with. Challenging yourself like this can help you create effective plans with minimal resources, which can help you prepare more effectively when you have the resources from your school.

2. Research education developments

The field of education undergoes changes constantly. From pedagogical differences in classroom management and communication to technology, staying up-to-date with the changes can help you continue to improve the entire set of skills teaching assistants use. When you research changes in the education field, it is helpful to find three or four different resources you can use to find areas of the field you can improve. For example, you may use resources such as new technologies schools are using, how diversity matters in the classroom and what the best teachers in the country do to engage their students in learning.

3. Practice your communication skills

You can practice your communication skills each day you are in the classroom. First, any time you think about the information you want to share with the teacher you work with, you can think of the most concise and effective way to communicate with them. Then, you can apply the methods you use to find the most effective communication style to other people you communicate with, such as students and school staff. It is important to remember that different people may prefer different communication styles and methods. For example, administrative staff may prefer an email instead of in-person conversations.

Teaching Assistant Skills In The Workplace

There are several ways you can show your skills in the workplace. These include:

  • Encourage effective communication with your colleagues. Maintaining a healthy colleague relationship could have a positive effect on your students and their learning experience. By participating in open communication with your classroom teacher, you can work better as a team to achieve classroom goals.

  • Be a role model for students and colleagues. Many of the skills you need for success as a teaching assistant are also skills you want your classroom teacher and students to have. Demonstrating your skills can help your students learn the skills they need and help your teacher improve their own skills.

  • Find creative solutions to challenges. Using stressful moments to show your creativity and passion for teaching can help promote a positive classroom for students and professional staff. Some challenges teaching assistants experience are unique to the profession, so using unorthodox solutions can create an exciting environment.

Ways To Highlight Teaching Assistant Skills

Below are ways you can show your skills in different locations:

Teaching assistant skills for resumes and CVs

When you write your resume, there are several ways you can highlight your skills. First, you can read the job description for the school you want to work with and customise your resume or CV to feature the skills noted in that description. You can put them in several sections of your resume, including in your professional summary, as part of your duties in your work experience section and in your skills section. Each of these can effectively show the full scope of your skills to a potential employer.

Related: How To Write An Objective For A Teaching Resume

Teaching assistant skills for cover letters

Your cover letter is another professional document you can use to communicate your abilities with a potential employer. When you write this letter, you can customise it by reading the job description for the position you want and including the skills noted in that description. In the content of your cover letter, you can describe how you apply the skills you possess to the duties you had in previous roles. You can also describe how you plan to use your skills in the position you want. For example, you can explain how you plan to use your communication skills to help the school's staff work effectively with teachers.

Teaching assistant skills for job interviews

When you have a job interview, there are ways you can highlight your skills. One way is to use the STAR method of answering questions. This method lets you give detailed answers to questions and define exactly how you use your skills in different scenarios. This method works best with situational questions, so practising some responses using this method before your interview can help you prepare effective answers that represent you as a teaching assistant.

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