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The various available teaching assistant jobs are defined by the age range, needs, and ability level of the students being educated. In most cases, a teaching assistant is responsible for leading some of the lessons or leading parts of lessons. There are some cases in which a teaching assistant is primarily responsible for helping the head teacher or professor to prepare for lessons. Teaching assistant jobs in which teaching assistants (TAs) are serving classes of very young children or students with special needs may require TAs to help to keep a class running smoothly. It is very common for teaching assistant jobs to be part time but there are cases in which these are full-time jobs.
Students who are completing a bachelor's or master's degree in education may take on teaching assistant jobs to complete certain degree requirements. It is common for these kinds of programs to require students to get experience in the classroom, specifically experience in the types of classrooms where they plan to work after graduation. A graduate student preparing to teach earth science to high school students, for example, would likely take on a teaching assistant position where she would work under an earth science teacher at a nearby high school. Many teaching assistant jobs are based on contracts that are rather short term, this is especially true for teaching assistant jobs taken by graduate students.
Full-time teaching assistant jobs are more common in schools that cater to young students and students with special needs. In these cases, TAs may be responsible for leading some lessons or they may be responsible for helping the head teacher to keep the class running as smoothly as possible. This may include helping students to transition between activities and preparing work areas before lessons begin.
Graduate students who are not studying to become educators might also take on teaching assistant jobs, but they are most likely to work with undergraduate college students. Graduate teaching assistants help professors with various tasks including instruction, office hours, and grading. Graduate teaching assistants are especially common at large universities where freshman-level classes enroll dozens, if not hundreds, of students. In these settings, graduate teaching assistants are heavily relied on to manage the needs of all of the enrolled students. These sorts of jobs are usually only open to individuals who are enrolled as graduate students within the same university or college.