In the state of New York, teaching assistants are considered paraprofessionals and are essential personnel in a school system to provide support for students with special needs and the regular classroom teachers. Under the new regulations developed as a result of the No Child Left Behind legislation, any qualified paraprofessionals in the school system who are certified and have tenure meet the requirements for a Title 1 certificate. Otherwise, to obtain this type of position in a school, you must meet certain educational requirements.
As a teaching assistant, you must be able and willing to perform any or all of the following duties:
- Prepare scripts and record them to help student who may have difficulties listening
- Provide assistance in monitoring students working in computer labs or when using other types of assistive technology
- Provide assistance to students with their physical and health related needs
- Deal with students who have behavior problems
- Provide teachers with assistance in administering and correcting exams
To gain a position as this type of paraprofessional in the schools in the state of New York, you must have a high school graduation diploma. You must pass the state assessment for Teaching Assistant Skills and then begin a program leading to a valid certificate to work in the state. This program involves taking eighteen college level courses, which amounts to about two years of college. You can also have an associate degree from an accredited institution. When you receive your initial certificate, it will be valid for five years. During this time frame, you must complete seventy-two hours of various types of professional training provided or approved by the school district. If you do not complete this requirement, you will not be able to renew your certificate. This is an ongoing requirement every five years.
There are different levels of certificates for teaching assistants allowing for personnel to advance in their careers. The entry level is the Level 1 certificate. Assistants can advance through the levels as they attain more professional training. The pre-professional certificate is an elective one that you can choose to study for, especially if you would like to become a regular classroom teacher.
You do need to have other qualities other than educational credentials to obtain a job as a teaching assistant. Preferable, you should have experience working with students in a school or a related field. You should be a person of good character, as the state requires a full background check of all school personnel as well as a copy of fingerprints to be kept on file. Excellent communication skills are a must as you will be dealing with a myriad of student difficulties and as such you will have to communicate effectively with the parents. In addition, you should have a good working knowledge of the school curriculum and various methods you can use to help the students succeed.