What do Educational assistants do?
Educational assistants assist in keeping students engaged in the range of activities that take place in the learning environment. These activities, for example, may be academic, social, or related to specific student needs. They can take place in a variety of situations and settings, ranging from group work to individual pursuits, and from reading and writing to painting, drawing, and working with objects. Classroom activities and lessons require a teacher’s planning, organization, scheduling, and coordination.
Educational assistants may be asked to assist the supervising teacher with this preparatory work. This “extra pair of eyes and hands” can be invaluable to the smooth functioning of the classroom. The classroom can be an active, fast-paced work environment. Educational assistants respond to the needs of the students as well as the teacher and/or school team in a timely and appropriate way. By keeping the lines of communication open with members of the school staff, sharing information, and giving and receiving feedback, the educational assistants support teachers in the high volume of activity and change that takes place in a typical workday.
The day-to-day tasks of educational assistants often involve several responsibilities.
They may be expected to operate and maintain specialized devices, equipment, and technologies. They may be required to assemble, organize, and construct support materials as directed by the teacher while attending to one or more students. This requires organization and the ability to multi-task. Sometimes students require practice, time, or support to feel that they can perform a task. Educational assistants assist students by explaining, demonstrating, and modelling the skills and attitudes necessary to encourage and support learning as facilitated by the teacher. Educational assistants should be familiar with students’ specific learning needs and preferences. This can help build positive relationships with students, which increases the effectiveness of student learning support. Educational assistants help classroom teachers with the supervision of students, which involves following supervision timetables and plans based on school guidelines and procedures. It also involves contributing to student safety, reinforcing a positive, welcoming environment, and resolving situations that may pose a risk to students or compromise their educational opportunities. Educational assistants also identify safety issues and take preventive measures, by following established safety policies and procedures. The supervision of students also involves providing support in everyday activities and encouraging positive student interaction. Some students, for example, may not be fully aware of the dangers their actions might pose. Educational assistants watch for potential problem situations and prevent escalation of conflict whenever possible. A basic understanding of appropriate student behaviour and the factors that affect behaviour can help to manage and direct students more effectively.
Under the direction of teachers and other professional staff, educational assistants assist students who require ongoing, long-term support through plans developed specifically for them by an in-school team. Educational assistants may be called upon to work together with members of an individual student’s in-school team. While the composition of this team will vary according to the individual student’s needs, it typically consists of those people who are involved with the student on a daily basis at school. Students with specific plans work toward outcomes that are specific to their learning needs. Examples of these specific plans include IEPs (individual education plans) BIPs (behaviour intervention plans) ERPs (emergency response plans) IHCPs (individual health care plans). Being familiar with the purpose and the terminology of these plans will help clarify educational assistants’ responsibilities. It will also support more effective communication with the students, teachers, and supervisors with whom they work.
The Education Assistant program at Commonwealth College is designed to make you job-ready in less than 8 months