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Teaching Assistants Can Help to Improve U.S. Education

Teaching ESL Secondary School Students

The current situation for education in the US is evolving and diversifying more than ever. We want our students to learn about lots of different subjects and to gain multiple skills before they leave compulsory education. This is why the Teaching Assistants in the U.S. can help to improve the students’ education and the school quality.

At the same time, unemployment has decreased to the lowest level (3,5% for February 20201) for the last years, resulting in a teacher shortage. In general, the US has seen an increased demand for teachers in recent years. Student numbers have risen, even as many schools’ systems sought to reduce an overall number of students per teacher.

Teachers and Teaching Assistants in the U.S.

Teacher shortage is an increasing problem in the US: 10 years ago, many teachers were looking for jobs. On the contrary, in 2012, schools were looking for teachers: as a matter of fact, that year, the country faced a shortage of 20,000 school teachers. Later on, in the 2017-2018 school year, numbers had increased significantly, as the country was estimated to have a shortage of over 110,000 teachers. Those numbers come from the Learning Policy Institute.2

In this scenario, schools are doing their best to continue educating their students and they have found that Teacher Assistants are a great resource to release the heavy workload that teachers are currently facing in the United States.

What is a Teaching Assistant?

Let’s start from the beginning: what is a Teaching Assistant? A Teaching Assistant is an individual who assists a teacher with instructional responsibilities. They can also be known as teacher’s aides (TA), education assistants (EA) or team teachers (TT).

Some Teaching Assistants may teach portions of the class lessons or teach lessons to small groups of students who need extra instruction. Many TAs work “one-on-one” with special needs students; TAs shadow their students and assist with classwork, organization, and behavior management. Common tasks for TAs include assisting students with their work and taking attendance. Most of the responsibilities of Teaching Assistants in the U.S. do not require the academic expertise of the professor in charge. Their tasks are generally determined by the supervising teacher. In some parts of the United States, it is customary or even required, that each classroom has one certified teacher and one or more co-teachers or teaching assistants. 3

Teacher Assistants work with a licensed teacher to give students additional attention and instruction. In the USA in 2018, the number of TAs’ jobs were around 1,380,300. Employment of Teacher Assistants in the U.S. is projected to grow 4% from 2018 to 2028, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment along with state and federal funding for education programs should affect this growth.4

The Teaching Assistant Employability

The TAs employability situation is worldwide increasing. While the number of teachers in mainstream schools in England has remained relatively steady over the last decade or so, the number of full-time equivalent TAs has more than trebled since 2000: from 79,000 to 243,700. Teaching Assistants comprise over a quarter of the workforce in mainstream schools in England: 35% of primary schools’ workforce, and 14% of secondary schools’ workforce. A key reason for increasing the number of TAs was to help other teachers deal with problems related to their workload.5

Many people would agree that Teaching Assistants are the secret weapon of the teaching profession and an integral part of school life.

How Teaching Assistants Works?

The 2015 Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Guidance Report ‘Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants’ made seven recommendations to maximize the impact of Teaching Assistants based on the best research evidence:

  1. TAs should not be used as an informal teaching resource for low-attaining pupils.
  2. Use TAs to add value to what teachers do, not replace them.
  3. Use TAs to help pupils develop independent learning skills and manage their own learning.
  4. Ensure TAs are fully prepared for their role in the classroom.
  5. Use TAs to deliver high-quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventions.
  6. Adopt evidence-based interventions to support TAs in their small group and one-to-one instruction.
  7. Ensure explicit connections are made between learning from everyday classroom teaching and structured interventions.6

Teaching ESL Secondary School Students

A Meddeas Spanish Teaching Assistant in the U.S.

Foreign language education is one of the subjects that is suffering the most from the teacher shortage in the US.

A Foreign Language Assistant (FLA) is an assistant teacher, usually a native speaker, assisting the foreign languages teacher in another country, in lessons related to the native language of the assistant. The assistantships are meant to be of benefit for both assistants and pupils. On the one hand, it should help to improve the foreign language skills of the pupils and, on the other hand, it is an opportunity for the assistants to deepen their language skills and cultural knowledge, as well as a chance to get an insight into a different educational system.7

Meddeas was born in 2011 to help schools, teachers, and students to improve their foreign language education and acquisition. We provide more than 700 Foreign Language Assistants to more than 400 schools yearly. Our team is highly qualified to recruit the best Spanish LAs for your school, and we will adapt, at all times, to your recruitment requirements, according to your school’s foreign language education program. Take a look at this video to discover how we can work together to improve your Spanish education:

  1. United States Unemployment Rate
  2. Study: America’s Teacher Shortage Is a Bigger Problem than Thought
  3. Teaching Assistants
  4. Occupational Outlook Handbook
  5. Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants
  6. What Do The Best Schools Do to Make Effective Use of Their Teaching Assistants
  7. Language Assistant

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