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Photo by Sunny Chen.

Teacher aides learn real world skills

A disappointed look appeared on the faces of underclassmen when they were told that there would not be T.A. positions in the upcoming school year. The elective to be a teacher’s assistant (T.A.) is always a popular pick among incoming seniors. However, the school district has decided to remove it as an elective option because it is not an educational course.

Although T.A.s do not sit in a classroom and learn a specific subject, the work they do throughout the school year helps them learn valuable skills other courses cannot offer. Many believe a T.A.s only job is to make copies and check the teacher’s mailbox. It is true that T.A.s usually do these tasks on a regular basis, but they also have other duties. Depending on the teacher, a T.A. may be asked to organize papers, file work, put work up around the classroom, deliver materials to other teachers, and the list goes on. It may seem that these tasks have no effect on the student, but they actually do.

Having to organize and file papers can help the student become more organized with their school work. Also, delivering to other staff on campus and walking daily to the copy room can help the student improve his or her socialization skills. These skills T.A.’s gain may seem so simple, but there really is only one or two other courses on campus that students can take to learn these skills.

Additionally, T.A.s are actually a huge help for teachers. Although T.A.’s are not allowed to grade the work of other students or input the scores into the gradebook, the tasks they are allowed to complete can help a teacher tremendously.

With the help of T.A.s, teachers can focus their attention on teaching the class and grading the students’ work, which results in grades being updated faster. Also, T.A.s can help turn the classroom into an environment students feel comfortable learning in by putting up work or simply organizing the classroom.

Being an aide immerses students in a unique school culture that teaches them to value integrity and behave respectfully and thoughtfully in their interactions with others.

The law that the district is attempting to follow by cutting T.A. courses has its roots in very real problems. Some districts were offering “fake courses” that lacked educational content to their students. However, does that problem exist in our award-winning school district? Rather than cutting a course that teaches students how to be healthy, self-aware individuals, why not modify the course so that students wishing to be T.A.s also “formally” learn educational content?

In the end, encouraging students to take an educational course instead of the T.A. elective is sensible, but eradicating all T.A. positions will be counterproductive because without T.A.’s, the school would run as smoothly as it does now.

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