All children have the right to receive a good education. The learning support teacher or teacher's aide ensures that all pupils are able to achieve their maximum potential regardless of any special needs or learning difficulties. Students with similar learning needs may be taught in small groups, or the assistance may be given in a one-on-one situation.
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Alternative job titles
Learning support teachers may be called by various other job titles, such as classroom assistant, teacher assistant, special needs assistant or teacher's aide. Responsibility is equally wide, ranging from lesson preparation to lunchtime supervision. Some teacher assistants may call themselves either paraprofessionals or paraeducators. This is a growing occupation in both U.S. and U.K. with very similar roles and responsibilities in both countries.
Training and qualifications
A college degree or qualifications in child development will increase job prospects, although requirements vary from state to state and school district. Some schools may ask for only a high school diploma or equivalent and provide on-the-job training.Learning support teachers in schools with students who are predominantly from low-income households must either have a minimum of a two- year degree or pass an assessment. Whatever academic qualifications are required, most schools offer some on-the-job training as it is necessary to thoroughly understand the school system.
A learning support teacher can expect to earn between £9,750 and £22,100 in 2010 depending on qualifications, experience and the individual school or college, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most earn approximately £11,050 to £18,200.
The demand for learning support assistants varies across the country with job prospects being best for those with two years post-secondary education, relative experience plus language skills, according to the BLS. Most teacher assistants are part-time workers with relatively low pay. The demand for teacher assistants is, according to the BLS, likely to increase by 10 per cent by 2018.
Additional benefits for teacher's aides
A full-time teachers aide will normally receive health benefits although part-time workers are generally not covered. Many belong to the American Federation of Teachers or the National Education Association.
Types of learning needs
The students a learning support teacher works with may have physical disabilities, behavioural and emotional problems or reading or writing difficulties caused by such problems as dyslexia. They may need long term help to gain in confidence and develop independence, or they may simply have fallen behind in course work due to illness and need extra help to catch up.
Personal qualities of learning support teachers
Learning support teachers need patience, empathy, enthusiasm and flexibility. A mature attitude, good organizational skills and the ability to stay calm in high pressure situations are necessary, as is the willingness to seek out new approaches and try original teaching methods. Good communication skills are vital, and you must be able to be firm and maintain discipline in a way the pupils with accept and respect.
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