Saturday, April 21, 2012

Who Wants to be a Teaching Assistant?

Yesterday every teacher assistant in my county got a pink slip.  They are all being fired as of June 30.

We knew our school district's budget for 2012-2013 wasn't looking good.  We knew there would be cuts.  What we did not know (until a couple of weeks ago) was that EVERY teacher assistant would be cut.  I'm not sure of the exact number, but I'm guessing around 350.

Everyone wants to say public education is failing.  But let's be realistic.  Who is failing?  I blame society.  No one wants THEIR taxes raised, even for public schools.  Parents don't hold their children accountable.  Stay at home moms don't come to the school to volunteer.  Teachers are not paid as much as other professionals with equivalent degrees.  Many of the best and brightest teachers burn out quickly because of the workload, demands, public criticism, and low pay.  And now, one of the most important positions in the school system is being eliminated.  Conspiracy theorists could say that maybe some people WANT the public schools to fail . . .

Anyhow, I could get on my soapbox about all of that, but the point of this entry is to list everything I can think of that a teacher assistant does.  I don't think people realize the important role they have in a school.  Believe me, I'm sure there is more that I will forget to add to the list, so I apologize in advance for my lax memory.  Readers, if there is something I forget that teacher assistants do, please add it in the comments section. 

  1. One year I had a boy in a wheelchair.  My TA had to take him to the bathroom every day, at least 2 times a day, for 180 days and help him (unzip his pants, hold his urinal, empty his urinal, zip his pants, clean his urinal--you get the idea)
  2. Refurbishing science kits before they are sent to the next school (they have to be rotated because of budgeting issues)
  3. Teaching small groups of readers (because we teach everyone at their own level)
  4. Conferencing with individual students during writing workshop
  5. Having their own spelling groups (yes, we even individualize spelling now)
  6. Lunchroom duty so teachers can have duty-free lunch (Did I mention that this is state law?  Teachers are supposed to be provided with duty free lunch, but the state does not provide the personnel/money to do that.  So guess what?  It falls on the teacher assistant.)
  7. Working with struggling students during independent work time in math
  8. Bus duty
  9. Car rider line duty
  10. Book room organization
  11. Hall duty
  12. Covering a classroom of children when the regular education classroom teacher has to be in an IEP meeting (this is required by federal law)
  13. Substituting in emergency situations (a teacher's child becomes ill and she has to leave, a teacher finds out a family member has died, a teacher becomes sick at school, etc.)
  14. Receipting money for field trips so that the teacher can teach and not have to disrupt sacred instructional time for this
  15. Making copies
  16. Helping children who are sick
  17. Assisting children who have bathroom accidents in their pants
  18. Being an adult who cares (when many children have no one else who does)
  19. Proctoring for state mandated tests (required by the state and federal government)
  20. Grading papers
  21. Sorting all student work and putting it in that child's folder to be sent home once weekly along with other school information
  22. Keeping the word study cabinet supplied with word lists for all spelling levels (because remember we now individualize instruction even in spelling)
  23. Keeping the reading assessment cabinet supplied with forms for all of the different developmental reading levels
  24. Checking the teacher's mailbox during the day
  25. Watching the class while the teacher goes to the bathroom (Yes, we are human too)
  26. Pulling individual students for one-on-one tutoring
  27. Checking for head lice (yes, this is for real--our Board of Education requires us to check all children for head lice when returing from school after a 3-day or longer break)
  28. One year I had a boy with autism in my regular ed classroom.  The assistant sat with him during subject area instruction so that he would stay on task and not be disruptive to the other students.
  29. Taking emotionally fragile/troubled children out of the room for a walk so they can have a "decompression" time
  30. Hanging up student work so that students can learn in a cheerful, child-centered environment
  31. Binding children's writing into individual books so that we can celebrate having published authors in the classroom
  32. Attending PTA meetings
  33. Attending weekly staff meetings
  34. Going on field trips
  35. Helping set up the classroom at the beginning of the year
  36. Helping to put everything away at the end of the year
  37. Being an extra set of eyes to keep all students safe
  38. Attending open house, back to school night, curriculum night, reading night, math night, grade level musical performances, spring festival, bingo night, . . .
  39. Teaching new teachers "the ropes"
  40. Calling a parent because Johnny forgot his lunch money (or a multitude of other reasons) and the teacher is teaching
  41. Taking the children to the library once a week so the teacher can have a 20 minute break from the children
  42. Walking around and monitoring student work during independent work time
  43. Giving encouragement
  44. Listening
  45. Being a nurse, mom, disciplinarian, educator, and psychologist all in one day
  46. Jump rope swinger
  47. Kickball pitcher
  48. Playground referee
  49. Serving on school committees
  50. Running the laminating machine
Good grief, I'm exhausted just by listing all of that!  I hope you readers get my point.  Teacher assistants are not only necessary but they are invaluable.  It takes a special person to be a TA, and it's time that people in a position of power appreciate that.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much... i didnt have the knowledge in this now i get an idea about this.. thks a lot

    Teaching Assistant