|Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Classroom|
This evening, on the third night of Chinese New Year, I interviewed a private school elementary school teacher assistant for leadership tips. Why? Boomerangers, young adults living under their parents’ roof in suburbia who are recent college graduates, are finding it hard to find employment in their field. Some of them have accepted temporary or part-time teaching jobs while the economy sets itself right. College graduates are useful resources for school-aged children who may lack male role models. Plus having a comparative literature major or film studies graduate from one of the University of California campuses, as your TA, is pretty cool.
Many recent college grads in art and science may accept part-time teaching roles because the unemployment rate for education and health services is only 6.3%. This is according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their September 2011 report.
I asked a 26-year-old TA for some tips he’d like to share with other Boomerangers.
Summary of Classroom Management Tips:
1. Show yourself as credible.
2. Manage your time and pick your non-negotiables.
3. Be consistent and fair.
What transferable skills does your current job give you for future careers more specific to your area of study?
Of course all jobs have transferable skills, however, I know that future employers may be skeptical of employment in teaching so I’m ready with a good answer.
I plan to sell the time management, project planning and people motivation aspects of the job. For example, as an assistant at this private school I have autonomy in what sequence I complete my daily and weekly tasks.
To illustrate, I have responsibilities at two hubs of the private school. At both centers I have duties to print out curriculum and aid the primary teacher in the classrooms. I meet my objectives and the goals set by my supervisor by prioritizing. Project planning is another term for what I do. I also coordinate operational tasks such as transporting some students from their day school to the after school center.
You mentioned motivating others. Do you mean using psychology principles?
Yes. I understand that this population is different from leading adults in an office setting. However, these K through 5th graders must be trained, inspired, and motivated like any other group. In some cases, correction is needed after evaluating performance.
For example, I suggest that a TA pick his discipline battles. Know which children have special needs such as autism or a history of behavior problems. Win the respect of the students by presenting yourself as confident, knowledgeable and strict. There is nothing that undermines credibility of a TA than answering, “I dunno” when a student asks where to get this or that resource. Lack of courage or knowledge are weaknesses that your students will not tolerate. They will eat you alive.
Be aware how you are perceived and have a thick skin when parents complain to your supervisor about you being too strict. Have management on board that you are a TA and the number one concern, even above academics is the safety of your students. That’s why you separate discipline problems and verbally correct unsafe behavior. This is also called managing Social Quotient (SQ) or the Social Intelligence/emotions of others according to Author Daniel Goleman.
How do you motivate yourself as a professional who may not choose to remain in teaching?
Every audience can teach you something valuable. For instance, this age group is exceptionally good at listening. Specifically overhearing. This aids me to think about the long-term affects of what I say. Otherwise I’ll likely be in a parent-teacher conference where I need to explain myself why I was not consistent in enforcing a class rule. Being fair is essential no matter how tired you might feel. This self-control and awareness is useful for personal growth and future work in any industry.
Boomerangers, keep on trucking!