The Teaching Assistant degree program is appropriate for both current and prospective
teacher aides and assistants. These paraprofessionals perform a variety of functions
within schools, often either working with an individual or small group of students
within a classroom or resource room, or working with students in a technology
room or computer lab. This program provides a comprehensive sequence of study
that is directly relevant to the responsibilities normally assigned to those
who support instruction at the prekindergarten through high school levels.
Graduates receive a solid foundation in both the liberal arts and sciences as well as the educational functions of teaching assistants. The program’s three areas of concentration (Generalist, Developmental Disabilities, and Learning Strategies and Technologies) permit students to develop expertise according to their interests and the needs of their current or anticipated job responsibilities. Fourth-semester students complete a field assignment in the community—a culminating experience that connects their formal, classroom-based education to the workplace responsibilities of an educator.
Higher expectations, at both the state and national levels, have resulted in more rigorous certification requirements for teaching assistants. The four levels of paraprofessional licensure encourage development of a career path and continuation of postsecondary education. Periodic renewal of licensure will require professional development that may be in the form of additional college coursework. Teaching assistants working in schools impacted by specific federal legislation are required either to attain the equivalent of two years of college course work or an associate degree. Although paraprofessionals may demonstrate that they are qualified through an approved certification test, some school districts have determined that the associate degree will be the minimum qualification for future employment at that district.
This program provides a comprehensive program of study for individuals wishing to pursue advanced, specialized training for career paraprofessionals. However, it is worth noting that students completing the first 18 credit hours of study meet the necessary college requirements for several state certificates: 1) the New York State Level II or III Teaching Assistant certificate, and 2) the New York State Pre-Professional Teaching certificate. Students desiring the Pre-Professional certificate must enroll in a program registered as leading to teaching certification, such as the Genesee Community College Liberal Arts and Sciences Teacher Education Transfer program. In addition, completing the first 30 credit hours qualifies students to receive the Genesee Community College Teaching Assistant Certificate.
Faculty in the Teaching Assistant program are sensitive to the unique needs of paraprofessionals and to their students’ career goals, which may change as they progress through the program. To ensure each students’ academic needs are met, academic advisement is mandatory prior to registration for the first 30 hours of study.