Are you a good Assistant Teacher? The answer will, of course, depend on who you ask. The major stakeholders here, who decide whether an Assistant Teacher is “good” or not, are the Director, parents, owner, children, and your Lead Teacher. If all five are asked the question whether or not you are a good Assistant Teacher, and they all say, “YES!”, then you are probably not a good Assistant Teacher – you are a great Assistant Teacher. It is challenging, but very possible, to please all five. Here, we will try to give you some suggestions.
First, though, some background on children and their brains. Early Education is a critical part of the development of a child. At this young age, the tiny brain is developing – and fast! Billions of neurons are building connections (synapses) with other neurons – connections that will determine what the child will finally be “good” at. This brain development continues through puberty and beyond, of course, but the majority of brain development and synaptic development occurs in the first 6 years of life (for more detailed reading please see Welcome to Your Child’s Brain by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang, 2011, Bloomsbury, USA, NY). As teachers of these children, you have one of the most important jobs in society – shaping the next generation.
So, what then makes a good Assistant Teacher? Most of what is described on the page for Lead Teacher, under “Are You a Good Teacher?”, is completely relevant to Assistant Teachers as well, and we would encourage you to read that section now.
Now that you have read the Lead Teacher page, you know that diligence (e.g. wake up 5 minutes earlier so you are not late!), hard work (e.g. teach as if the future of your country depends on it – because it does!), and consideration (e.g. don’t call out one hour before your shift starts!) will take you a long way in this industry. In addition, make sure you understand the Center’s mission and vision, so you can properly assist your Lead Teacher in accomplishing his/her tasks. You should always consult your Lead Teacher to make sure that you are working as a team and towards common goals in the classroom. Try to understand as much as possible about the curriculum and about how the classroom and teaching is organized so that if your Lead Teacher is not there for some reason, you can run the classroom as if you were the Lead Teacher. This will give you the confidence that you can be a Lead Teacher and will also please your Director, and most importantly, the children in your classroom.
As an Assistant Teacher, another important thing to decide is what you want to do in the next few years. Do you want to become a lead teacher? An Assistant Director? Director? Whatever your goals are, you will need to start taking classes, usually in the evenings, so you can qualify as a Lead Teacher as soon as possible. This will then open future possibilities in the field.