What do teacher assistants really do, anyway?

If someone asked you what teacher assistants do in the classroom, could you answer the question?

While budget proposals coming from the Senate and Governor Pat McCrory call for cuts to funding for teacher assistants in grades K-3, let’s consider what TAs accomplish in the classroom every day.

From the North Carolina Association of Teacher Assistants:

Duties of a Teacher Assistant

Daily Routine

  • Teach small reading groups and math groups to meet Common Core Standards
  • Teach remediation groups for grades 3-5 (reading and math)
  • Teach Direction Instruction or other type of phonics program and keep records of student progress
  • Pick up the class lesson if the teacher is called out of the room, therefore instruction does not stop
  • Help teachers with lesson planning and preparing for the lesson
  • Help teachers with record keeping (Ex: grades, progress monitoring and money from home)
  • One on One instruction with a student who has been out for sickness or other reasons
  • Insure that EC student’s modes are met during the regular classroom time.
  • Sub for the teacher if she is required to attend a workshop during instructional time
  • Assist with PE
  • Help students choose books for their reading level from the media center
  • Guide students instruction while using laptops, computers, or Ipads
  • Give AIMs Web test for reading
  • Do Running Records on entire class so teacher can continue on with the other students
  • Monitor children during whole group instruction to keep students focused
  • Release Time for upper grade teachers (3rd – 5th)
  • Celebrate the A+ student, but TAs also celebrate the C+ with a student when you know that was the best they could do
  • Serve as ISS Instructors (In School Suspension) an intervention for keeping students in school with bad behavior instead of sending them home
  • Some Kindergarten Assistants may have to potty train a student, or teach them table manners. This is done in a way not to embarrass a student
  • Work with and help EC Students who are mainstreamed into a regular classroom ( Ex: autism, BEH, ADDHD, and Down Syndrome) TA’s commonly work with the special needs students
  • Change diapers of some EC Students
  • Monitor Recess as many as 45 to 50 students at a time
  • Monitor Lunchtime usually 2 classes at a time
  • Proctor End of Year test
  • Prepare folders to go home, one with work completed and one with homework
  • Stay after school to help students with homework for students who have parents that are unable to be home with the student


  • If there is not a nurse on campus, give med’s to students
  • Check sugar levels and other medical needs of students
  • Take First Responders training and work on the First Responder Team in case of an emergency
  • Take part in all emergency drills
  • When there are two people in a class, there is never a worry that the students will be left alone
  • Maintain cleanliness and safety of the classroom

Before and After School Duties

  • Drive or monitor a bus (sometimes two or three routes)
  • Monitor students getting off the bus insuring they get into the building safely, rain or shine
  • Breakfast Duty
  • Managing Car Rider Line & getting students in and out of traffic safely, rain or shine
  • Pick up walkers at the crosswalk in the morning and taking walkers to the crosswalk in the afternoon, rain or shine
  • Form teams of AIG students to put on a morning news broadcast. Teach students the role of anchor, sports, weather camera, special event and even writing scriptsSchool Activities

School Activities

  • Serve on School Improvement Team
  • Work with team to implement School’s Plan
  • Serve on school wide committees (Ex: social, grounds, book choices, evacuation planning committee)
  • Act as a Big Brother or Big Sister to students with behavior problems
  • Male TA’s are good role models for students where there is no father in the home
  • Conduct after school clubs (Ex: golf, cooking, scrapbooking and girls on the run)
  • Members of the school PTA, participate in school fund raising activities


  1. TA

    June 17, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    This TA makes her own lesson plans to coincide with classroom and grade level curriculum and then implements them.

  2. TA

    June 17, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    Who are TA’s of today? We’re licensed attorneys and real estate brokers. We’re certified teachers and public accountants. Many of us are mothers of school age children who choose this line of work so we can have the same schedule as our children. We sacrifice for our own children and give our expertise to the children of others.

  3. renee davis

    June 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Congress should b ashame of theirsleves for wanting to make more cuts on things for schools teachers need these assits.in their
    class rooms there r kids that do have some problems as my child does and these kids that can b in a regular class needs someone to work with them while the teacher is working with the others.The way I see it cogress and the the govenorif nc wants to make these cuts in our schools why dont they start with their own pay checks their the ones thats rich we’re all sitting here waiting fir the ecommey to turn around while their all getting richier by the mintue;so why should we have and our kids have to suffer with lising things because of higher up.If they and even the president would give up their pay and some a paycut we wouldnt have to lose things or assits.from our schools or from anything else that we’re losing.

  4. Becky Thompson

    June 18, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Many of us have also:
    *Fed students who have no breakfast or lunch
    *Have helped provide food to a student’s family when necessary
    *Obtained or purchased clothing for students that showed a need
    *Have reviewed the curriculum and developed modified lessons for EC students
    *Have followed up and facilitated the acquisition of medical services, and products, when necessary
    *Have bathed and changed the pull-ups and/or sanitary pads of EC students of all grades

    Every TA has their story. It will be interesting to see who does these things when we are no longer allowed in the classroom.

  5. Cherie Brock

    June 18, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    That is a minute list of things Teacher Asst. do ,we are the children’s confident,doctor , guidance counselor,mom, shoulder to cry on , food supplier etc. etc. We are there while the teacher is trying to teach and get curriculum done for testing while a child is throwing up, or throwing a tantrum, or struggling to read and comprehend. We are more than just baby sitters we are part of a very important team.

  6. Patricia

    June 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    As a EC TA I can say that TAs do more they also drive the buses wipe noses clean up a child if they get sick and of course do all that was stated in the other comments. As an EC TA we do everything taking children who are in wheelchairs to the bathroom feeding children we do it all including helping with behaviours and we also love the children like they were our own I could go on and on about these things but I won’t. But cutting more jobs will not safe money because the people who lose their jobs will draw unemployment .

  7. Angie

    June 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    As a homeroom teacher who never had a TA, I can say with full confidence and honesty that I wish all homeroom teachers would have one TA with them, at least all K-8 teachers. I don’t have enough hours in my day to do all the work I need to complete. Some tasks become neglected unless I bring work home. It was easy to do when I was single, but with a family to take care of, working at home has become very difficult and I often fall behind either with grading or contacting parents. As class sizes grow, I just can’t believe the government prefers to cut TA jobs than cutting the big chunks of the US budget to support others’ wars abroad just for the financial interests of our big corporations (the ones who end up avoiding paying taxes for our salaries). God bless TAs; AND CONGRESS, PLEASE, UNDERSTAND THAT WE NEED MORE OF THEM!

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