I earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree to become an assistant? An aide?? A substitute???Well, yes, for a season. For the last three years I have been an aide, then a substitute, and finally a teaching assistant. I called myself a teacher, partly to keep up face and it is true, I am a certified teacher. But I was the assistant. It was like another round of student teaching, but this time with elementary students, which meant lots of parenting:
“No, you do not run in here!”
“You need to say that again without whining and then I’ll hear you.”
“Let’s play the quiet game!!”
I’m thankful to be learning how to parent with other peoples’ children; you can only become better, right?
Some things challenged me. Students knew where the power was…Maybe I had more power than I realized because for some reason I let the assistant title get to me. The students knew the difference — that I was the assistant and when I stepped in to be the full teacher a couple of times, they acted just like they do for a substitute. I felt bound to follow the guidelines, ask permission, and not just be free to teach. I learned how to follow a leader and work under someone. I enjoyed doing more team teaching and that happened occasionally. Being an assistant is humbling, but there ARE perks.
This is a double-edged blade: You are not the one in charge. That means you might hear about some of the challenges, but you don’t have to fix them. This job showed me more of my control issues; I like to be the one in charge. I had to submit to Jesus, then to those over me. You get to follow and serve.
I learned on a deeper level how to have fun with learning. Students learn better when they are interested and having fun while learning important principles. The teacher I worked with was great at making learning enjoyable. For example, we learned about the rain forest by making a bulletin board collage of the layers of the rain forest; we also planted seeds to learn about how plants grow.
I learned different methods and ways of handling kids from seeing the teacher I worked with and the specials teachers work with our students. The art teacher ruled the class with an iron-hand, but the students created colorful, intricate art projects that impressed us all. She laughed at me when she saw I was reading a teaching book that another teacher had recommended, but I just laughed back. Because the kids were busy most of the time, I could read a few lines of the book, then when a kid needed me I could go right then and put into practice what I had just been learning about classroom management. My “teaching style” grew, got challenged, and grew some more.
It has helped me see more of my teaching gaps. I’ve been too sensitive at times, and made mountains out of mole-hills; my skin is getting tougher. I had this weird feeling of not being sure of what I should be doing at times; sometimes it was because I didn’t ask and I needed to talk with the teacher I worked with, and sometimes I just feel weird when I’m not in charge. Following well is harder than it looks. I’m also a slower processor when there’s lots of activity around, so it’s much easier for me to think when it is quiet. Now that I know those things about me, I can work with those traits in me so that they won’t hold me back.
It was a perk to just leave work at work!
Remembering that Jesus, the greatest example of how to live life, served those around him helped me. Being an assistant is a serving job, which is humbling, but you learn so much. And you never know what opportunities will open up because you have been faithfully serving. Take it from me…good things blossom. I received an offer to teach Bible and College Writing–a combination of my gifts I never would have even thought to ask for! Humility and faithfulness pay off. Go for it: assist, help, serve.