What are the differences between working as a teacher and a teaching assistant?
What is it like working as a teacher?
Being a teacher is very different to being a teaching assistant. As a teacher, you will be doing the following things:
- Planning learning programs.
- Designing individual lessons.
- Finding and making resources.
- Designing assessment tasks.
- Marking student work.
- Giving feedback to students on their learning.
- Writing reports
- Contacting parents about their child’s learning progress.
- Doing school administration (entering grades, marking rolls, completing paperwork)
- Managing a classroom.
- Delivering lessons
- Differentiating learning activities to suit every student in their classroom.
As a teacher, your job involves a lot of planning and preparation. You will be planning every lesson beforehand, and making sure that it fits into your wider program and teaches your students everything that they need to know. You will also be doing a lot of work after class marking work and giving your students feedback. Teachers also need to make sure that all of their planning and programs fit in with the wider focus of the school.
What is it like working as a teaching assistant?
As a teaching assistant, your role will be a lot more flexible. What your job is as a teaching assistant will depend on what the teacher and their students need. As a teaching assistant, you may be required to do the following things:
- Supporting individual students while they are in class.
- Helping students with their homework during break times.
- Taking individual students or small groups of students out of class to do specific tasks and programs.
- Helping the teacher design differentiated tasks to suit different students.
- Reporting back to the teacher about individual students’ progress.
- Helping to manage the classroom.
- Following the teacher’s plan for the lesson, and following their instructions.
Is it easier working as a teacher?
As a teacher, you have a lot more control over your classroom. You will be the one designing your learning program as well as each individual lesson. This means that you can play to your strengths, as well as be flexible depending on the context of each individual lesson on each specific day. Having this much control over what you are doing and when can mean that being a teacher is easier than being a teaching assistant, who has far less control over what they will be doing every lesson.
Another reason why it might be easier for you to be a teacher is that being a teacher has a certain set of specific expectations that are almost the same depending on what school you are working at. If you are applying for a job as a teacher, you can safely assume what most of your job will be like. For teaching assistants, you really need to start and be doing the job to tell what it is going to be like. What your job as a teaching assistant requires will depend on each individual school as well as each individual teacher.
Is it easier working as a teaching assistant?
Depending on your skills and personality, you may find that being a teaching assistant is easier than being a teacher. For starters, you do not have to do nearly as much planning as a teaching assistant compared to being a teacher. Some people struggle to plan, especially as it can often take a very long time. You may prefer being a teaching assistant because you do not need to do the meticulous planning that teachers need to do to support their students and meet the school’s improvement targets.
Teachers often also do a lot of their work outside of school hours. It is not uncommon for teachers to spend their evenings and weekends marking and planning lessons. As a teacher’s assistant, the vast majority of your work will be done working directly with students during the work day, so you will have little if any additional work to complete when you get home. This can mean that you have a better work-life balance than most teachers.
So is it easier being a teacher or a teaching assistant?
Whether it is easier to be a teacher or a teaching assistant depends entirely on you and what you find easy. You might find the level of control and flexibility of being a teacher easier, or you may find that less direct responsibility and more free time outside of work hours is what you’d prefer.
Either way, neither job is easy. Both are essential for supporting students to be their best, and both need to be trained and qualified to fulfil their roles.
Have you been both a teacher and a teacher’s assistant? Which do you think you’d find easier? Let us know in the comments below!