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Tips for Working with a Para-Educator
Para-educators move about the classroom providing teacher and student assistance consistently during the class period. They work directly and indirectly with general education teachers in addressing the learning needs of students. Working with Para-educators can provide academic and behavioral interventions for students who need personal and professional accommodations from adults assigned to the classroom to help meet their social, academic and emotional needs.
Below are tips for Para-educators and General Education Teachers for creating the most effective teams in the classroom:
- Para-educators are classified staff personnel who are hired to act as resource members in the classroom. They are a resource for the general education teacher, the special education teacher, the student’s parent and the student. They are not hired to write curriculum, modify curriculum, write IEPs, teach the class or replace the certificated teacher in the instruction process. They are vital members of the student’s educational team and have valuable input to contribute regarding the academic and behavioral needs of the student.
- Para-educators can help in the interpretation of the student’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) with its diagnostic outcomes and required academic modifications. It is the teacher’s responsibility in creating those lesson modifications and assessments to evaluate student performance, not the Para-educators.
- Collaborative inclusion for the Para-educator means that teachers and the IEP team should provide specific instruction on their professional expectations in the classroom. Para-educators should not have to second-guess his/her role on the team or in interventions with students they are assigned to redirect behaviorally and assist academically.
- Para-educators should be given daily feedback on performance and expectations. For students, the Para-educator can reinforce the agenda; keep students on task; provide IEP feedback and inclusion; support the teacher; support the student; and provide input in IEP meetings and parent/student conferences.
Having Para-educators in the classroom can provide a valuable service to teachers, students and parents in creating collaborative teams to enhance the academic and behavioral outcomes for students with special needs.