a teacher’s assistant

Working as a Teacher’s Assistant at a Primary School

I got the job because the principal was required to hire all takers during the TET period. It was as simple as going in and saying you were planning on working there. The principal was my old class teacher, which might’ve been a factor in my hiring. The perks weren’t exactly glamorous; having access to the teachers’ lounge and being called ’ope’. I worked from about 9 am to 3 pm. The kids usually got out at 1 pm, after which I worked on materials or corrected their exercises and tests. I usually had to work during the breaks, but I had the typical lunch break of twenty-five minutes. I had to eat at my school, though.

The skills needed for assisting depend on the grade and type of the class. My class was first-year and energetic, and I was ill-suited for the job. My social phobia was even worse then, and I couldn’t have held authority even if I had dared to try. During the first week I had to fight tears several times. That was my main class, though. I had a few English lessons with third-years, and they were okay. I did a lot of translating for the teacher who was a substitute without an English degree. I also had the privilege of watching over 6-year-old immigrant students who didn’t speak Finnish yet. I didn’t so much teach as play games with them so they’d learn numbers and a few nouns. Communicating was surprisingly easy even with the language barrier.

The work requires endless patience, a good sense of humor and a mild case of general insanity. I can’t recommend teaching for anyone who doesn’t have a calling for it. I really can’t say I learned anything during my two weeks, except that cruelty is not something exclusive to adults.

By DMuhonen


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