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Program Director

Child Care Job Description: Assistant Teacher

March 9, 2021

When was the last time you updated the job descriptions for your childcare center? If you can’t remember, it’s time to update them. Although many think that job descriptions are just for employees, having a clear job description is important for you, both as you look to hire new teachers, and as you promote teachers from within.

Job descriptions should be updated at least once a year to make sure that they clearly communicate your expectations for each position and match industry standards. This will not only ensure you’re hiring the right people, but will also boost productivity while limiting employer risk and liability.

Previously we discussed the description of lead teacher. Today we continue our series with the role of assistant teacher. I will share with you the job descriptions I developed at the center I led, along with some practical advice and examples.

Of course each center will have different needs, so it is important to think about how your specific preschool or childcare center operates as you examine this series and modify accordingly. I hope the following will save you precious time by allowing you to stay efficient and up-to-date without having to reinvent the wheel.  

Let’s jump right into the role of Assistant Teacher and look at the top three areas to include.

1. Position Description

Defining the job is the first step in building out an effective job description. The key is to make sure that you know what you’re looking for and that it is clearly stated. Opening with a strong attention-getter can be a great way to capture the attention of a candidate as they are looking through a list of childcare job descriptions on a recruiting website

Here is a sample Job Description:

A great assistant teacher, and our ideal candidate, is someone who engages each child in the classroom with hands-on learning and assists the lead teacher as they execute their role. This person would reflect our mission and vision to provide high quality care for children.  

At our center our mission is to provide a safe environment where children can learn and grow. The ideal candidate will support this mission to the fullest by being approachable and helpful to staff and students, and knowledgeable in the curriculum. We believe that children learn best through play and this is something that must be intentionally designed by each teacher as they engage at a deeper level with each child and meet them where they are in the learning process. 

We are looking for someone who can adapt to the specific needs of the classroom in support of the lead teacher. This person will assist with things such as: curriculum planning, classroom organization, behavioral needs of the children, and planning and preparation of daily activities. This role may vary from classroom to classroom depending on the lead teacher and their individual needs and requests.

Once you have completed your job description, you can move on to list the specific skills and abilities of the ideal candidate for your childcare centre. 

2. Essential Skills and Abilities

This is the place to define the specific skills required for the role you are describing. This list can include both hard and soft skills. Soft skills are things that make a good employee but are hard to measure, like effective communication and likeability.  Hard skills are teachable and measurable skills,  such as computer skills or education requirements. Keeping this section as detailed yet concise as possible will save you time and energy as you sort through applications. 

Sample list of Essential Skills and Requirements:

  • 3+ years’ experience working with young children (birth-6 years)
  • 30 hrs STARS training, can be completed within 6 months of hire
  • Obtain and maintain the following certifications (e.g. CPR/First Aid, STARS).
  • Patience and flexibility; ability to manage preschoolers in a calm manner
  • Ability to relate well to young children and adults.
  • A nurturing teacher approach exhibiting respect for all and joy for teaching
  • A commitment to fulfill the mission of the Preschool
  • A commitment to maintain professional attitude and loyalty to the preschool
  • A commitment to treat children, parents, and staff with respect and dignity

Now that you have described your ideal candidate and laid out the essential skills and requirements, you can follow-up by describing the specific job responsibilities and duties. 

3. Job Responsibilities and Duties

This is where you define the actual day-to-day work that the candidate will be doing. Being detailed here can be great, but try to be concise as well. Giving the candidate a clear idea of what the job entails is important, but if it gets too long it might be overwhelming. As you develop this section of the job description also make it clear that these responsibilities may change depending on the day and/or the classroom. 

Sample List of Job Responsibilities and Duties:

The assistant teacher will...

  • Assist in planning and preparing activities (i.e., Learning Centers, curriculum implementation, art projects, story time) per lead teacher’s direction
  • Assist as needed with decorating, reorganizing, and keeping the classroom refreshed and relevant
  • Collaborate with teachers to monitor the development of each child
  • Work with each child to promote their individual learning goals
  • Keep classroom supplies and materials organized
  • Lead classroom circle time as requested by Lead Teacher
  • Attend required staff meetings 
  • Maintain positive and clear communication with Lead Teacher and Director
  • Assist in preparing for Parent-Teacher conferences
  • Embrace our philosophy, teaching style, and behavior management techniques
  • Help keep the teacher workroom/resource room neat & tidy and keep the classroom clean (countertops cleaned, supplies in proper bins, etc).
  • Arrive for work and meetings prepared and on time

Remember that the job description, skills and requirements, and  responsibilities and duties should be updated at least once yearly to reflect more closely what you expect of your staff  and prevent liability issues. They can also be revisited as part of an effective performance review

Final Notes

The key to writing a great job description is to clearly spell out the important details without overwhelming the candidate. You also want to leave room for the job description to morph and change over time. Having a strong description can help your job stand out from others and set your new team member(s) up for success. 

Don’t forget — being clear about your expectations upfront is just as important for you as it is for your employee. By crafting strong job descriptions and reviewing them annually you will not only hire the right people, but get the best out of them, all while protecting yourself from risk and liability. So don’t delay, up-date your preschool job descriptions today!

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