Teacher Assistant or Aide Positions: An Overlooked Stepping Stone to Success in the Teacher Interview
EDU Edge friend (Dan) at West Virginia University sent us a question via email … “I’m going to graduate in May and there are very few teaching jobs open in the state that I am originally from. There is a teaching assistant position available near my home town. If I’m unable to land a teaching job, are these positions good to take? Can they be stepping stones to fulltime teaching positions?”
Dan, thanks for contacting The EDU Edge. Yes … yes … yes! We think you’re smart to consider a teaching assistant or teacher aide position to start if you are unable to find a teaching position. Subbing is certainly an option that gets you in the door, gaining contacts and meeting people who can help you in your goal of securing a full time teaching position. But an idea that is often overlooked is taking a teaching assistant or teacher aide position. Many people don’t even consider this as an option, perhaps because they see it as beneath them, but we feel that this is a big mistake.
When times are tough and the teaching positions are limited, working as a teaching assistant or aide has become a legitimate and smart option. The administrators in The EDU Edge consortium can point to literally hundreds of examples where individuals with teaching degrees have taken a teaching assistant position and then jumped into the next available teacher position in that school or district. The same thing happened as if I they had been a substitute teacher. They:
• took advantage of their opportunity
• proved their competence, value and talent
• interacted with the teachers and administration, who got to know and like them and then, voila, they were in the candidate pool and being recommended for the next available position.
Yes, many times these positions pay a lot less than a full time teaching position would, but they do come with benefits and most importantly, opportunity. They also provide daily employment at the same location each day.
We have never seen a perfect teacher who was firing on all cylinders right out of college. Everyone needs time to grow and hone their practice. Like subbing, these positions provide great opportunities to refine your skills. As teacher aide and assistant positions have less to do with basic student supervision and are increasingly oriented toward instructional support over the past fifteen years, we have seen more and more examples of students right out of teaching schools taking these positions as a pathway to full time teaching positions. They also provide a great insider view of how schools operate with less pressure while you are getting acclimated to working in an educational workplace. This understanding and ease with school operations will come in handy at interview time.
Finally, if you feel there is a stigma attached to working as an aide or assistant, get with the times and get over it. While you are sitting by the phone day after day waiting for the chance for a mere interview, your competition is working as a teacher assistant proving themselves and making contacts. They are also earning wages, benefits and possibly service credits toward a pension. They are doing what it takes to get ‘the edge’ in landing a teaching position.
Good luck to you Dan! And, good luck to all of you following The EDU Edge. Please come back and let us know how it went so we can all learn together.
Yours in a Partnership in Learning,
The EDU Edge
(Please feel free to contact us with additional questions … we’re on Twitter, Facebook and you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us what interview obstacles you’re dealing with and trying to overcome. We’ll do our best to respond and we welcome dialogue from others going through the same process.)