Becoming a teaching assistant is a highly rewarding career. It's also a demanding, supportive role requiring patience and teamwork.
Teaching assistants often develop a strong rapport with pupils as they provide them with additional attention and encouragement.
You can be inspired to start this exciting new career at any time, leaving you unprepared and unsure about how to proceed. But how to become a teaching assistant with no experience is a problem that has several solutions.
What Qualifications do I need to be a Teaching Assistant?
You might already have the required qualifications to become a teaching assistant in the UK.
You only need a GCSE, or a similar exam, in English and Mathematics at Grade C or higher. Consequently, there's usually a great deal of competition for teaching assistant roles.
Interviewers frequently look beyond exam results when searching for suitable teaching assistants.
They usually want to discover if you have learned any appropriate life skills. Being a parent is enormously helpful as you already have experience of being in children's company.
Looking after nieces and nephews or babysitting for friends can also count as experience. However, if your life has been relatively child-free, there are still steps you can take to prove how determined you are to succeed.
How to Gain Experience to become a Teaching Assistant
Volunteering for a few months is an ideal way of earning a reference from the right sources.
Schools are often looking for extra help with out of hours activities or projects such as a Christmas play. You can offer your services for painting scenery, stitching costumes or even writing a script.
You don't always have to volunteer at a school. Local churches often run community events, such as a summer fete.
Children might take part in a performance or parade. There are also local sports halls that might need volunteers to organise sports events for children of all ages.
Volunteering at a nearby hospice or community centre will enable you to learn how to understand some of the difficulties children can face.
Even a few months working in your own time with children and their parents who are facing adversity can provide you with valuable experience that rival interviewees might not have.
What does a Teaching Assistant do?
Working with younger children usually involves lots of reading and number practice. You could be involved in supervising projects for small groups of pupils.
Preparation is a key task. You might be asked to create an informative wall display or research a topic the teacher will be covering.
Organising the classroom is another important part of the teaching assistant's day.
Tidying away books or ensuring there are enough pencils or paints for everyone happens regularly.
You might even have to help with marking pupils' homework. Being a teaching assistant is full of variety and new challenges.
Is it Challenging to be a Teaching Assistant?
A teaching assistant's role is never dull or uneventful. At least, not with a classroom full of different personalities!
You'll deal with all types from quiet, shy children to the cheeky class extrovert. Having experience in dealing with people of all ages is sure to count for more than if your previous jobs were somewhat solitary.
If you've regularly worked as part of a team, you'll have some idea of how you are expected to collaborate with the teachers at the school.
But it is important to remember your role is a supportive one and you shouldn't become a rival to the teacher.
Being reliable, dependable and resourceful are important attributes that prospective employers are searching for.
One of the ways you can demonstrate your abilities is by taking a course specially designed for teaching assistants.
How You Can Benefit from a Teaching Assistants Course
There are many courses available that could help you achieve your ambition of becoming a teaching assistant.
You might be able to apply at a local college, although there's no guarantee of vacancies. An ideal solution is an accredited, teaching assistant course online.
You can enrol at any time as places are usually available throughout the year. With most online courses, you can study whenever you have some spare time.
A series of easy-to-understand modules should explain all the facts and procedures you'll need to know.
These could include an insight into Special Educational Needs (SEN) and how to assist pupils who only use English as a second language.
There are usually chapters on mental health, how to deal effectively with bullying and the signs to look for regarding children with dysfunctional or abusive home life.
How to Become a Teaching Assistant with No Experience
There are clear indications that the UK's population could be rapidly increasing for some years to come.
Class sizes are already approaching a level not witnessed for many decades.
Today's teachers frequently have little experience in dealing with so many pupils at once. But that's why the role of a teaching assistant is becoming more important than ever.
More schools are employing teaching assistants to help maintain a high level of individual attention.
Without teaching assistants, many classes would become impossibly large to the detriment of the pupils' educational needs.
When you become a teaching assistant, your services will be valued by the teachers and the pupils.
Becoming a teaching assistant is a worthwhile career with a high level of job satisfaction.
Your role in the classroom is a valuable one, providing essential support for teachers. But how to become a teaching assistant with no experience?
Consider what type of teaching you'd like to be involved in, such as which age group or Special Educational Needs. Concentrate on developing your own particular skills and interests.
Volunteer to gain practical experience and references you can use during an interview to become a teaching assistant.
Enrolling in an accredited online course for a teaching assistant is a positive step towards impressing your potential employer.
A course demonstrates your level of knowledge and determination to understand the challenges in becoming a successful teaching assistant.