A Day in the Life of a Teacher’s Assistant

Teacher's Assistant

EduConnect met up with Shannon French, a grade 4 teacher’s assistant from Bastion Primary School. At this time of the year most teachers look exhausted, so did Shannon when we met up with her. Shannon walked around the classroom, giving cute little anecdotes of some of the children. It takes a special kind of person to work with children all day and still feel affection for them. She works in a class with 40 children, that’s no walk in the park.

Luckily, people like her still exist and have a huge passion for educating the future generations. People often look down on teachers, as that profession is often laughed at, but where would children be without good, intelligent educators? Society would be in even more danger if teacher’s didn’t exist. Teachers help build the foundations for doctors and scientists. They are just as important.

Hey Shannon, things look chaotic at the moment! Is this your typical day or what does a typical day look like?

Time of Day Activity Comments
7:30 – 8:00 Admin Fill in the register, collect monies
8:00 – 14:00 General school day Photocopying, helping the kids in class, run errands that the teacher needs done
14:00 – 14:30 Take a needed break Kids have gone home so I can breathe a little
14:30 – 15:30 Coach u/10 hockey girls Do much needed skills activity and some intense fitness
15:30 – 16:00 Take a break, prepare for the next lot of hockey coaching Think of various ways to make the cheekiness go away. Fitness? I think yes.
16:00 – 17:30 Coach u/13B hockey boys They behave instantly when they hear the word fitness. We work on some strategy too.
17:30 Go home. Finally! Feet up, time to relax for the next working day.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working with kids, even though they drive me crazy at times. This job needs a lot of patience. Their smiles and happiness make my day even better.

What do you enjoy least about your job?

The only thing that isn’t 100% about my job, is the salary. Unfortunately the salary for teacher’s assistants are very low. Which is why people who are studying teaching work as teachers assistants. The experience outweighs the money in this situation, but you wouldn’t be able to have a house and family with this income. 

Is there a qualification required to perform this job? Where and what did you study? 

No there isn’t. I am currently studying teaching through Unisa while working as a teacher’s assistant.

Is there any training provided by the organization once you come on board?

No, but the experience gained will look great on my CV when I qualify as a teacher.

What type of person would be well suited to this job?

Someone who loves kids. The person must definitely have patience and must be doing the job for the love of it, not for the money.

How long have you been in this position and how did you get there?

I have been working at Bastion Primary School for 2 years and 3 months. I started off by coaching hockey and then got employed as a teacher’s assistant. 

Do you have any additional advice for someone interested in pursuing this career?

When you get upset with the children, first count to 10 ☺

Is there anyone else in the industry that you would recommend I speak to?

You could speak to another assistant or a teacher. If you want to be a teacher and do job shadowing, then speak to a teacher about organizing something. 

What is the earning potential of this career? 

R2500 – R4500 (Depends on the school and area) 

What is a typical starting salary in this career field? 

About R3000, depending on which school you go to. 

Any quirky advice for scholars looking to pursue a career in your field?

Try and keep your cool at all times. It is really rewarding to work with kids to see how they grow and develop, especially since you helped them with that growth.

EduConnect 2cents

Educating kids and watching them develop and mature is a very rewarding job. But it stills comes with it’s ups and downs. As do most jobs. Being a teacher’s assistant is more about the children than the salary. So if you just want to work with children or are studying through distance learning and need a job, then this career will suit you very well. The experience outweighs the negatives by far.

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