Teacher assistants are vital personnel in a preschool classroom. Their assistance is required in some cases to keep the class running smoothly. They bring extra sets of eyes, ears and hands to the classroom, which increases the quality of care for preschool children. They do not make all of the decisions in the class, but they are confident in their abilities to provide care to children and to carry out their tasks. They are also proactive, seeking ways to help in the classroom without having to be told what to do next. They become an extension of the lead teacher, understanding how she wants the classroom run and doing her best to see that it is done.
Preschool teacher assistants do not have most of the decision making responsibility in a classroom. They spend much of the day carrying out the lesson plans of the lead teacher and helping with daily tasks involved in taking care of a preschool class. They may help prepare materials for an art project, clean up after lunch or help put sunscreen on children before they go outdoors to play, for example.
A good teacher assistant wants to help, rather than taking the lead in the classroom. The lead teacher is the one who sets the routine for the day, decides on lesson plans and generally leads the class. A teacher assistant should be confident in her ability to make decisions for the care and well-being of the children, and she should generally defer to the lead teacher in deciding how the class should be run on a daily basis. The lead teacher is the teacher assistant's first supervisor.
A good teacher assistant is also proactive in the classroom. If she sees a spill that needs to be cleaned up, she cleans it. If she knows it is time to get children lined up for a restroom break, but the lead teacher is working on finishing an art project with some other children, she begins to line up the ones who are finished. She seeks opportunities to keep the classroom running on schedule and as smoothly as possible throughout the day.
Teacher assistants also are very interactive with the children in the classroom. They use funny voices for different characters when they read stories to them. They play on the floor with them during center time, and they are actively involved in caring for the children. They do not merely sit on the playground and talk with other teachers. A teacher assistant's first priority is her children at all times throughout the day.
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