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A Day in the Life of an Educator

What’s it like to work in the education support sector?

We spoke to our Education Support Trainer and Assessor, Rexina, to find out.

Before joining Inspire Education as a Trainer and Assessor, you were a Teachers Aide. What’s it like to work in the education support sector?

Awesome. Being a Teachers Aide, it’s like passing it forward so I could help others learn and grow. I loved being part of an environment where children’s development and learning were crucial. I enjoyed building relationships with teachers as well as students. Being partly responsible for someone’s education was so rewarding. There’s a lot of diversity in the day. I got to learn about myself and I could grow in the role, so the personal development was a bonus.

What types of people do you think the sector needs?

Empathetic, passionate, caring, intuitive, flexible, patient. It’s a job that needs you to think on your feet and be able to work with others, like teachers, other teachers aides and students. It’s a hands-on role. You need to show initiative in the classroom to best support both the teachers and students. The role requires you to multi-task. Sometimes you’ll need to juggle supporting more than one student in their learning, as well as assist behaviours with others.

You’ll need to be flexible and creative to change your style to suit each student’s needs, as each child learns differently.

The role requires you to work with students who need help in many different ways to better understand the school work. Sometimes you could be working with a child with a disability. Without compassion, you’ll burn out and leave the industry.

The education sector needs men and women of all different ages to bring their experience to the classroom, which gives great balance in various situations. It brings many benefits to a student’s social and emotional wellbeing. Some of the kids with challenges are dealing with family issues. Having a male teachers aide is really helpful.

What does a typical day look like?

It depends on the school, the age of the students, and their additional needs. Sometimes schools have teachers aides employed in specific roles, or with specific students depending on funding. General teachers aides would go into a classroom and support a teacher delivering the lesson and support one or more students to understand the content of the lesson. Enabling a child to achieve a milestone or guiding them to find solutions, is so exciting.

You could be walking around the classroom, supervising group work, assisting on field trips and going with students to different activities around the school like the library or swimming. You could also be expected to help the teacher set up the resources or the classroom for an activity. Preparing teaching materials could also be part of the role. A teachers aide provides a range of opportunities and services to the classroom.

There’s an administrative aspect to the role, whether it be laminating, photocopying and, in some cases, marking.

Most schools have teacher aides supervising the playground, lunch or morning tea. This is where flexibility and initiative for the role comes into play.

What’s the most challenging, yet rewarding part of the job?

Helping a student who thinks they don’t want to be helped or needs you. Sometimes they don’t like you in the beginning. Building trust with them and finding a way where they understand the work. Seeing them grow to accept you and your help and then they get it. Be it a task, or understanding a concept for the first time.

There’s no amount of money in the world greater than seeing a student really understand a question for the first time. One of the toughest things is knowing you may not be the right person to help someone. We don’t all fit everybody.

You need patience to achieve the learning style suited for that one student, this can mean using various strategies, collaborating with others for ideas. It’s important not to give up.

Gaining experience working in a classroom and developing my own capabilities and expertise was so rewarding. I saw a huge difference in my skills from when I first started in the industry.

Do you have an example of a person that dramatically benefited from the work you did?

When I was working as a Teachers Aide, I had a colourful, strong-willed, and funny student with an awesome smile. He was about seven when I started working with him. He ended up being a friend of my children and I saw him at a party years later. He came up to me and said, “Do you remember me?” I said I did. He replied, “You were awesome Rexina, best Teacher Aide ever, thank you for caring. You really helped me get through the rest of school.” He was a sweet funny student going through a hard time, so he was easy to remember. We put a lot of emphasis on the importance of education, but having a personal relationship is just as crucial.

I get it from other students as well who’ve now grown up. It sounds vain, so I don’t like to speak about it too much. I’m simply happy I was able to help and make a difference.

I have so many cards and notes from students who’ve completed the Education Support course. They’ve told me I changed their lives doing the course. Sometimes it’s during or straight after the course, sometimes it’s years later after they’ve established their career in an education support role.

What are the benefits of working as an educator?

Seeing students learn and grow. Being a part of their learning journey and seeing them complete and achieve something they didn’t think they could.

It’s busy, days go quickly and every day is different, there’s always something to do and you’re always learning.

You also only work school hours and on weekends. It’s a very family-friendly job. It’s very flexible. It’s a great role for people who are parents.

What made you want to become an education support trainer?

Well… I do this so I can try to teach others how to be better teachers aides. That way I can reach more students overall. I know it’s a very “beauty pageant” answer, but I feel the Education Support course teaches how to understand others better, so it’s my way of making the world a better place and be able to spread more kindness to each other. World peace…

Job requirements

What experience do you need?

To be a teachers aide you don’t need experience or be highly academic, but you do need basic English and maths skills. If you don’t have good language skills and cannot speak or write well, it’s hard to teach or support students in a literacy class.

A qualification in Education Support will give you the skills, knowledge and training to make a real difference and go far in your career in any number of educational settings.

You don’t need to have children, but it does help to have them in your life to better understand what you’re walking into and how they act.

It’s a role that you learn as you go and observe others.

Is work typically full time, part-time, or casual?

The role usually starts as casual, then contract. If you’re good or suitable, the role can become full time. You could also work part-time depending on the role.

What are the hours?

Typically, they’re school hours – Monday to Friday. It depends on the school and what you’ve been contracted to do.

What types of duties does the job involve?

Supporting students and teachers, basic administration, general classroom tasks, helping prepare lessons, playground duty. Doing observations. Depends on what you’re contracted to do.

What different types of workplaces does an education support role work in?

In schools mostly. The qualification can be used elsewhere, but it’s designed for working in schools. Primary, High School, Specialised Schools.

Where can it take me?

Good teachers aides are highly valued by teachers and the school. You can use it as experience if you want to become a teacher, but they’re very different courses.

Studying Education Support

How long will it take?

Depends on your other commitments and your willingness to get it done and your availability to do the work. You have 12 months to complete the course.

Tell us more about placement

As part of the Education Support course, you need 100 hours of placement in a school classroom environment. You need to consider school holidays and the time a school is open. It can take longer than other industries as a school isn’t open all the time.

How will a student be supported doing the course?

A student has access to calls with our trainers as well as messages through our student portal. There are also plenty of webinars. If you reach out, a trainer will happily help you.

Industry demand

Are there plenty of jobs?

Schools are very loyal and you’ll benefit from getting your CV out there to schools and volunteering a few hours. Jobs do come up, but volunteers get the first chance at them in school or people who have put in their interest for a role with a resume. If you’re suited to the work, the role and the school, you’ll be in demand.

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