Why I Became A Teaching Assistant

Our guest blogger, Jess, discusses her role as a Teaching Assistant in a Kent secondary school. Before becoming a Teaching Assistant, Jess worked in roles in different sectors. In her blog, Jess discusses her previous work experience and details why she decided to change careers and enter the world of education. 

"Before working in a school, I was lucky enough to have worked in a variety of roles. The experience I gained from working outside of education previously gave me numerous skills which I have been able to apply in my current role as a Teaching Assistant, such as effective communication skills, time management and being able to multitask. 

My first job was at a Kent bakery called Beaneys. I was lucky enough to complete my work experience placement at Beaneys when I was in secondary school so when I was later offered a Saturday job with them, I happily accepted. As my first proper job, I learnt a lot during my time at Beaneys and built up enough work experience to begin applying for more permanent positions with longer contracted hours. 

After Beaneys, I secured a job at Gala Bingo working as a Team Assistant. This role mainly involved working in the kitchens, where I utilised many of the skills I gained from my time at Beaneys Bakery. My Team Assistant role also involved customer service; helping our customers wherever I could. Again, the skills I built up in my Saturday job were applicable in this role. 

A couple of years after this, I realised I wanted a change so I began to pursue other career opportunities. When I was offered a position working for my local Specsavers in the opticians laboratory I was excited to take on this new opportunity. This was an extremely varied role with no 2 days ever the same! The duties and responsibilities I had varied from the process of making glasses to administrative duties and from assisting customers on the shop floor and liaising with customers and suppliers via the telephone. I worked for Specsavers in this role for 6 years before I made the big decision to seek a new opportunity. I decided I wanted to be in a job role in which I could help people more. This then lead to me securing my current position as a Teaching Assistant. 

When I initially applied for the role, I didn’t have any formal experience of working in a school or with children. However, being a mother myself, I felt I had some of the necessary qualities required to become a Teaching Assistant. Moreover, as previously mentioned, my prior job roles gave me valuable and transferable skills, such as communication, time management, patience and flexibility, which helped me to secure the job. 

My interview for this role was very in depth. As well as questions that tested my suitability for the role and whether I had the necessary skills and experience, I was asked questions about my personal interests and hobbies. I was also asked about my life goals. This made me feel very positive about the role as the school were obviously keen to know me as a person, not just an employee. 

Since working in this position, I have acquired new skills and built on existing ones. It was nerve-wracking at first, but after the first week or so I was fully in the swing of the role! My favourite part of my job is when I can see I have made a difference to the pupils. When they thank me for my help, it is lovely to hear first-hand that I have benefited them in a positive way. I don’t help them to receive a thank you, but to know I have made a difference is definitely worth it so it is nice to hear.

If I could give advice to anyone who is thinking of becoming a Teaching Assistant, I would say be honest in your application and just be yourself. When beginning an application, think about how you meet each of the criteria laid out in the person specification and give examples of each. Your experience does not need to be in an educational setting; there are many valuable and transferable skills that can be acquired from a variety of workplaces! Think carefully about why you want the job and what you are looking for from the school/college, e.g. development opportunities, specialism subjects, flexibility. It’s always advisable to visit the school for a tour before you submit an application, but if this isn’t possible you could always contact the school for an informal chat before proceeding. 

Being a Teaching Assistant is not without its challenges; some days the job is difficult. But, it is such a rewarding career choice. If you are thinking of taking the plunge, do some research and go for it." 

If you are feeling inspired to begin a new career as a Teaching Assistant, visit our Teaching Assistant advice page which contains a wealth of information about embarking on this career path. Our blog ‘Everything You Need to Know About Becoming a Teaching Assistant’ is also a valuable read! 

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