Ashbaker B. & Morgan, J. (2012). Team Players and Team Managers: Special Educators Working with Paraeducators to Support Inclusive Classrooms. Creative Education, 3, 322-327.
This paper summarizes recommendations from a selection of international research literature urging teachers to take the initiative in their own classrooms to invite paraeducators to participate fully as team players in collaborative work. In US classrooms paraeducators (teacher aides/teacher assistants) have long been making valuable contributions in providing education services to students with a variety of needs. The literature documents change in their roles. Legislation has influenced their required qualifications—although legislation still refers to them as paraprofessionals. While some researchers have cast doubt on whether paraeducators are truly effective in their assigned roles, others have warned that the education system is over-reliant on them. In response to this changing perspective, teacher educators must revise programs to better prepare teacher candidates to effectively team with paraeducators. Personnel developers and school administrators must provide inservice training for a generation of teachers who have received little if any training in this area.
Biggs, E. E., Gibson, C. B., Carter, E. W. (2018). Developing that balance: preparing and supporting special education teachers to work with paraprofessionals. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, Article first published online: March 27, 2018 https://doi.org/10.1177/0888406418765611
The prominence of paraprofessionals in the education of students with severe disabilities highlights the importance of ensuring special education teachers provide effective supervision and support. The authors conducted in-depth individual interviews with members of nine educational teams—a total of 22 teachers and paraprofessionals—to identify (a) the competencies they consider important for special education teachers to work effectively with paraprofessionals and (b) their recommendations for equipping teachers to develop these competencies. Participants identified 10 competencies addressing three areas contributing to balanced leadership: knowledge, skills, and dispositions. They also recommended eight avenues for leadership development spanning three broad pathways: university-based preparation, school/district support, and personal development. The authors’ findings suggest the need to embed development of these competencies within existing training and support programs for teachers. The authors offer recommendations for future research and practice targeting teacher development in these areas.
Capizzi A. M., Da Fonte, M. A. (2012). Supporting paraeducators through a collaborative classroom support plan. Focus on Exceptional Children, 44(6).
Paraeducators, also known as teacher aides, paraprofessionals, and educational or instructional assistants, have become increasingly vital participants in school communities. They provide support in many capacities in schools. Their roles may include working one-on-onc with students in the classroom and supporting teachers and students throughout the day in varying activities. Some common activities are delivering lessons, supporting self-care, creating materials, collecting data, managing behavior, supervising the lunchroom, helping out in the library, or even riding the bus with students (Ashbaker & Morgan, 2006; May & Marozas, 1981). Although paraeducators are expected to complete these various tasks, they receive little or no training prior to starting their positions. In addition, the teachers who supervise paraeducators are often unprepared or untrained to work with or provide paraeducators needed training once they begin their work in the school setting.
Carnahan, C. R., Williamson, P., Clarke, L., & Sorensen, R. (2009). A systematic approach for supporting paraeducators in educational settings: A guide for teachers. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(5), 34-43.
Paraeducators provide important support and instruction to children in educational settings. As classroom leaders, general education and special education teachers must provide quality supervision and professional development for the paraeducators working in their classrooms. Despite the infusion of paraeducators in educational settings over the past several decades, issues continue to exist concerning the supervision and professional development of these individuals in school settings. Many teacher education programs emphasize strategies for classroom organization and managing student behavior, but few offer meaningful coursework or guidance to prepare teachers for supervising other adults. This disconnect often occurs because teacher preparation preservice instructors have limited, if any, experience working in schools and directly supervising paraeducators. Their supervision experience is often limited to discussing hypothetical situations that are not contextually based. Thus, teachers, especially those who serve students with more intense needs, report collaboration with and supervision of paraeducators and other adults as challenging aspects of their first years in the classroom. In this article, the authors describe a systematic approach for teachers, which includes processes for: (1) supervising staff training; (2) inservice strategies; and (3) problem-solving strategies. The authors suggest that a systematic approach minimizes challenges that go along with supervising adults in the classroom. In addition, these processes have the possibility for establishing a productive learning environment for educators and students. (Contains 7 figures.)
Chopra, R. V., & Uitto, D. J. (2015) Programming and planning within a multifaceted classroom. In D.K. Chambers (Ed.), Working with teaching assistants and other support staff for inclusive education, (pp.175-194). Bingley, United Kingdom: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
The paradigm shift to an inclusion model of education demands strategic planning and programming by teachers to ensure individualized instruction for students with disabilities. Paraeducators or teacher assistants are increasingly being used in the delivery of instruction to students with disabilities; therefore, directing or supervising the work of the paraeducator is an integral part of the planning and programming for inclusive classrooms. Research-based elements and components of paraeducator supervision are shared in the chapter to help teachers and other licensed professionals utilize paraeducators effectively in supporting instructional needs of students with disabilities.
Chopra, R. V., Sandoval-Lucero, E., & French, N.K. (2011). Effective supervision of paraeducators: Multiple benefits and outcomes. National Teacher Education Journal, 4 (2), 15-26.
The number of paraeducators employed in schools has increased dramatically in recent years. The growth of the paraeducator workforce has also resulted in an evolution of their roles in the classroom as well as transition to teaching positions for many of them. It is well documented that paraeducators often do not receive supervision from teachers to be effective in their new roles. This article reports selected findings from two studies that established the connection between effective supervision of paraeducators by teachers and paraeducators’ performance in the classroom as well as their continuing professional and career development.
Conley, S., Gould, J., Levine, H (2010). Support personnel in schools: characteristics and importance. Journal of Educational Administration, Volume 48(3), 309-326.
Despite the critical role of support personnel in education, the literature about their supervision has been less than informative. In an effort to provide additional guidance to school leaders seeking to improve the supervision of such personnel, the purpose of this paper is to examine and compare three distinct groups of support personnel: school custodians/janitors, school secretaries, and paraprofessionals in special education.
Devlin, P. (2008). Create effective teacher – paraprofessional teams. Intervention in School and Clinic, 44(1), 41-44.
Any given year, general and special education teachers may find themselves managing and supervising one or more paraprofessionals within their classrooms. Paraprofessionals represent a growing and important segment of personnel used to provide support for students with severe learning or behavioral needs in self-contained and inclusive settings. The experience of working as an instructional team may be a positive or negative one, having various implications for students. When teacher and paraprofessional are clearly working as a team, an educational atmosphere exists that is favorable for positive student learning. This article provides teachers with useful strategies and tips when working with paraprofessionals for creating an environment that is beneficial for adults and students.
Douglas, S. N., Chapin, S. E., Nolan, J. F. (2016). Special education teachers’ experiences supporting and supervising paraeducator’s. Teacher Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, 39(1), 60-74.
In recent years, there has been an increase in paraeducator supports, in large part because students with low incidence disabilities are being included more frequently in general education settings. As a result, special education teachers have been given additional supervisory responsibilities related to directing the work of paraeducators in special and general education settings. Many teachers, however, feel unprepared for this supervisory role. Therefore, to gain a better understanding of current practices in paraeducator supervision, the authors interviewed 13 special education teachers who were nominated by district special education administrators as exemplary supervisors of paraeducators. From the interviews, three themes emerged: creating effective teams, ensuring appropriate training and evaluation, and recommendations for the field. Practices for paraeducators working with students with low incidence disabilities in general education settings are noted in the first two themes. Implications for policy, practice, teacher preparation, and future research are also discussed.
Drecktrah, M.E. (2000, Spring). Preservice teachers’ preparation to work with paraeducators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 12(2), 157-164.
Findings were based on 71% return rate and indicated the majority of respondents to be female (83%), with males comprising 15 percent. In addition to other demographic data, findings reported 67% of respondents expected to supervise paraeducators, and 38% indicated that they are expected to evaluate educators. Fourteen percent of respondents indicated that they had some form of preparation and information on how to collaborate with paraeducators in their teacher education program. Ten percent reported preparation on how to supervise paraeducators, and 7% received preparation on how to evaluate paraeducators. Eighty-eight percent reported no preparation by their schools system to work with paraeducators. Fifty-three percent of the teachers surveyed indicated that they sought out opportunities to educate themselves to work with paraeducators. Ninety percent of respondents believe teacher education institutions need to address working with paraeducators. Seventy-four percent of respondents believe special education teachers need preservice training to educate paraeducators. Suggested training content for paraeducators include (a) behavior management, (b) tutoring, © communication skills, (d) disabilities, (e) observing and recording behavior, (f) computer skills, and (g) record keeping. The authors discuss limitation of this study, which include (a) respondents volunteered and self-reported to survey, (b) respondents perceptions not necessarily reflecting realities, and © absence of verification of findings through sites visits or other methods.
Docherty, R. (2014) A complete circuit: The role of communication between class teachers and support staff and the planning of effective learning opportunities. Educational Psychology in Practice: Theory, Research and Practice in Educational Psychology, 30(2), 181-191.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to explore how support staff make sense of their experiences of assisting children with additional support needs in mainstream classes. Focused and productive communication with the class teacher was perceived as being crucial to effective practice. A conclusion of this study is that absence of communication relating to pedagogy and pupil need between class teachers and support staff prevents effective planning on the part of the teacher and effective support practices on the part of the additional supporting adult.
French N.K. (1996). A case study of a speech-language pathologist’s supervision of assistants in a school setting: Tracy’s story. Journal of Children’s Communication Development, 18(1), 103-110.
This case study describes the experiences of a newly graduated speech-language pathologist working in a small urban school district with a series of speech-language assistants who have various levels of qualifications and personality types. It illustrates how professional supervision skills, preservice paraprofessional training, professional/paraprofessional role distinctions, hiring practices, pay, and working conditions influence and affect the use of paraprofessionals. (Author/DB)
French N. K. (1998). Working together: Resource teachers and paraeducators. Remedial and Special Education, 19, 357-368.
This study examined the relationship between 18 pairs of special-education resource teachers and the paraeducators they supervise. Teachers were divided in their beliefs about the fundamental role of paraeducators, whether as assistants to the teacher or to the student. Teachers also expressed reluctance about their supervisory role, preferring to view paraeducators as peers. (Author/DB)
French N. K. (2000). Topic #3: Taking time to save time: Delegating to paraeducators. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(3), 79-83.
This third installation of the “Paraeducator Supervision Notebook” focuses on practical ways teachers can make decisions about which classroom tasks to delegate to a paraeducator. It discusses effective time management, the benefits of delegation, reasons school professionals fail to delegate, and steps for delegation to paraeducators. (CR)
French N. K. (2001). Supervising paraprofessionals: A survey of teacher practices. Journal of Special Education 35, 41-53.
This study examined the practices of 321 special education teachers with responsibility for supervising paraprofessionals. Teachers reported little preparation for supervision; most were not involved in hiring but were responsible for evaluation; most provided oral, not written instructions; few held regular meetings with paraprofessionals; and there were many overlapping tasks of teachers and paraprofessionals. (Contains references.) (Author/DB).
French N. K. (2003). Managing paraeducators in your school: How to hire, train, and supervise non-certified staff. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press, Inc.
This guide provides tools and strategies for recruiting, managing, and using paraeducators in schools. It offers guidelines for using paraeducators in ways that best contribute to student achievement as well as strategies for identifying best practices, time frames, and people best suited for training paraprofessionals. It includes specific guidelines for working with paraeducators in special education, Title I, ESL training, school libraries and media centers, general and special education classrooms, speech/language pathology, and health-care services. It is designed for district-level administrators, school administrators, and teachers. The chapters are titled as follows: (1) “Employing Support Personnel in Schools”; (2) “Potential Problems with Paraeducators/Finding Solutions”; (3) “The Shifting Roles of School Professionals”; (4) “Recruiting and Hiring Paraprofessionals”; (5) “Starting Off on the Right Foot”; (6) “Taking Time to Save Time: Delegating to Paraeducators”; (7) “Planning for Paraeducators”; (8) “Paraeducator Training”; (9) “Monitoring and Evaluating Paraeducator Performance”; (10) “Managing the Workplace.” Each chapter contains a summary. The guide also contains many user-friendly information recaps; lists of questions; sample forms; sample plans; worksheets for a variety of tasks; and self-assessment and support checklists for a variety of tasks. (Contains a subject index and 73 references.) (WFA)
French, N. K. & Chopra, R. V. (2006). Teachers as Executives. Theory into Practice, 45(3), 230-238.
The roles and responsibilities of special educator shave shifted as schools move to provide inclusive services for students with disabilities. The inclusive special educator is responsible for coordinating a complex system of adults and students—often including paraeducators, related service specialists, classroom teachers, and peer assistants. This contemporary role is analogous to that of an executive in business settings and requires comparable leadership, collaboration, and communication skills. Teachers who demonstrate skills in 5 key functioning areas may see more successful inclusion of their students. Of importance, teachers who are adjusting to the shift in role require certain administrative supports as they acquire this new identity of executive.
French N. K., & Pickett, A.L. (1997). Paraprofessionals in special education: Issues for teacher educators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 20(1), 61-73.
Identifies and discusses issues associated with the employment of paraprofessionals in special education programs likely to be of the greatest importance and interest to teacher educators. These include teacher preparation to supervise, training of paraprofessionals, role overlap, paraprofessionals as community links, and paraprofessionals as potential professionals. (CR)
Freschi D.F. (1999). Guidelines for working with one-to-one aides. Teaching Exceptional Children, 31(4), 42-47.
Explores what educators can do to facilitate effective collaboration with aides who are providing one-to-one support for mainstreamed children with such disabilities as autism and pervasive developmental disability. Emphasis is on the importance of effective planning, careful identification of roles and skill areas, and supervision. (DB)
Gerlach K. (2001). Let’s team up: A checklist for paraeducators, teachers, and principals. Washington, DC: National Education Association of the United States.
This checklist is designed to help paraeducators, teachers, and principals understand their roles and responsibilities as they relate to each other. It offers tips for teachers on working effectively with paraeducators, practical suggestions for paraeducators on clarifying their jobs and relationships with students and school staff, and advice for principals on the administrative supervision of paraeducators. Five sections focus on: “Introduction” (e.g., how the checklist can be beneficial and who should use it); “The Paraeducator’s Role” (e.g., major responsibilities, learning school policies and procedures, working with teachers and supervisors, and performing assigned tasks); “The Teacher’s Role” (e.g., major responsibilities, beginning the school year, managing paraeducators, assigning tasks, and giving feedback); “The Principal’s Role” (e.g., major responsibilities, hiring paraeducators, creating a professional climate, and supporting the teacher-paraeducator team); “A Winning Team” (reasons to team up, 10 characteristics of an effective team, breaking in a new team member, and promoting and assessing the team); and “Resources” (books, articles, videos, Web sites, and organizations). (SM)
Gerschel, L. (2005). The special educational needs coordinator’s role in managing teaching assistants: The Greenwich experience. Support for Learning: British Journal of Learning Support, 20(2), 69-76.
In this article Liz Gerschel explores some aspects of the role of the special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) in the management of teaching assistants (TAs) in mainstream schools, drawing on the experience of professionals working in the London Borough of Greenwich. The SENCO’s responsibilities for managing TAs are discussed and issues of recruitment, appointment, job descriptions, deployment, the roles and responsibilities of TAs and their managers, collaboration between TAs and teachers, TA induction and training, and monitoring the work of TAs are explored.
Ghere G., & York-Barr, J. (2003). Employing, developing, and directing special education paraprofessionals in inclusive education programs: Findings from a multi-site case study. Minneapolis, MN: Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD) & Department of Educational Policy and Administration, University of Minnesota.
It was not until the 1997 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that federal special education legislation referred to “paraprofessionals.” This was despite the paraprofessional workforce expanding from 10,000 in 1965 to over 500,000 full-time equivalent employees by 1996 (Pickett, 1986, 1996). IDEA focused national attention on paraprofessionals who support students with disabilities in public schools. Concurrently, the literature on paraprofessional roles and responsibilities, direction, and development has grown steadily. Although more research is needed in all of these areas, little continues to be known about paraprofessional employment processes (Giangreco, Edelman, Broer, & Doyle, 2001). Policies and practices at each level of the school district (i.e., team, school, district) affect paraprofessional employment, direction, and development. There is a significant gap in our knowledge about how districts are looking at these issues across the levels of district and the degree of communication and coordination that exists between the levels of a district. These issues are particularly important for inclusive special education programs because the programs tend to be highly decentralized and paraprofessionals often do not work in close proximity to the special education teachers most of the school day. The purpose of this study was to describe and understand the systems that districts use to employ, develop, and direct their special education paraprofessionals to work effectively in inclusive special education programs. A multi-site case study of three school districts was conducted. District level special education personnel in each district identified one elementary special education teacher and one secondary special education teacher whom they believed were effectively including students with disabilities in general education classes and who directed the work of at least two paraprofessionals. Other key informants (e.g., special education directors, special education supervisors, principals, paraprofessionals) were drawn from the site and district levels in the three school districts. A total of 53 individuals from across the three districts participated in the study. Data collection included semi-structured interviews and structured group interviews. The findings clustered around key areas: The work of paraprofessionals in inclusive education programs. The work of special educators in supporting paraprofessionals. Developing the knowledge and skills of paraprofessionals.
Giangreco M. F. (2003). Working with paraprofessionals. Educational Leadership, 61(2), 50-53.
Giangreco M.F., Broer, S.M., & Edelman, S.W. (2002). Schoolwide planning to improve paraeducator supports: A pilot study. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 21(1), 3-15.
This pilot study chronicled the use of a process called, A Guide to School wide Planning for Paraeducator Supports, by teams in four schools, grades K-12. Data reflect the utilization and outcomes of the process along with the perspectives of 27 study participants. Findings indicated that the process assisted all four schools to self-assess their paraeducator practices, identify priorities in need of improvement, develop action plans, and implement them. Study participants reported that the process did what it purported to do and rated it highly on a series of consumer-oriented variables (e.g., ease of use). Implications for schools and future use are discussed for improving paraeducator supports.
Guay D.M. (2003). Paraeducators in art classrooms: issues of culture, leadership, and special needs. Studies in Art Education, 45(1), 20-39.
Using Blumer’s (1969) symbolic interaction as a theory base, this research is a multi-site analysis that examines instructional and managerial interaction in segregated, inclusive, and integrated classrooms of art teachers who teach students with disabilities. It describes approaches to art instruction for students with disabilities in the classes of 12 art teachers, each of whom relied on the services of a paraeducator. It lends understanding of how disability is defined and perpetuated by classroom interaction. Paraeducators, well meaning but generally untrained, tended to diminish learning, marginalize, and disempower students. I argue for the need to address classroom leadership and supervisory skills in preservice and inservice teacher education programs and for the learning of best practices to provide opportunities for students with even the most severe disabilities to communicate through visual means their being, their chosen ideas, and their understandings.
Haegele J.A. & Kozub, F.M. (2010). A continuum of paraeducator support for utilization in adapted physical education. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 6(5), 1-11.
This article describes three different ways of using paraeducators during adapted physical education. (1.) Having paraeducators read a portion of the lesson plan that describes the desired support towards lesson objectives. Paraeducators then assist all students when needed. (2.) Assigning specific modifications for paraeducators through the IEP process. These modifications may be designed for a single child and listed in the lesson plan. The paraeducator then provides specific support for a particular child. (3.) Using video modeling to create media clips for paraeducators to view prior to assisting children during the lesson. The media clips include modeling of key lesson concepts aimed at helping paraeducators understand physical education activities that a child is expected to accomplish during the lesson. The physical educator is then free to attend to other learners with different needs during portions of the lesson. Recommendations for using video technology are provided.
Hauerwas, L. B., & Goessling, D. P. (2008). Who are the interventionists? Guidelines for paraeducators in RTI. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 4(3) Article 4. Retrieved August 30, 2008 from
As a Response to Intervention approach begins to be utilized in our schools, there is growing confusion regarding the role of teacher assistants/paraeducators in this problem solving approach. In this article, the authors share survey and interview data from their experiences working with Rhode Island teacher assistants – both in leading teacher assistant training on RTI and in researching implementation of RTI in RI elementary schools. Both challenges and guidelines for the use of teacher assistants in a RTI model are presented. Recommendations for the effective use of teacher assistants in general education and special education classrooms include: teacher assistants as members of school-wide intervention teams; a greater focus on the use of teacher assistants during the assessment process; better professional development; and increased common planning time for enhanced communication about student learning.
Irwin D.W. Ingram, P., Huffman, J. (2018). Exploring paraprofessional and classroom factors affecting teacher supervision. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 73(2018), 106-114.
Background: Paraprofessionals serve a primary role in supporting students with disabilities in the classroom, which necessitates teachers’ supervision as a means to improve their practice. Yet, little is known regarding what factors affect teacher supervision. Aims: We sought to identify how paraprofessional competence and classroom type affected the levels of teacher direction. Methods and procedures: We administered an adapted version of the Paraprofessional Needs, Knowledge & Tasks Survey and the Survey for Teachers Supervising Paraprofessionals to teachers supervising paraprofessionals in elementary schools. Structural Equation Modeling was used to examine the link between paraprofessional competence and classroom factors affecting the level of teacher supervision. Outcomes and results: Our results indicated that when teachers perceived paraprofessionals as being more skilled, they provided more supervision, and when more supervision was provided the less they thought paraprofessionals should be doing their assigned tasks. Additionally, paraprofessionals working in classrooms with more students with mild disabilities received less supervision than paraprofessionals working in classrooms with more students with moderate-to-severe disabilities. Those paraprofessionals in classrooms serving mostly children with mild disabilities were also perceived as having lower levels of skill competence than those serving in classrooms with students with more moderate-to-severe disabilities. Conclusion and implications: By understanding the factors that affect teacher supervision, policy and professional development opportunities can be refined/developed to better support both supervising teachers and paraprofessionals and, in turn, improve the outcomes of children with disabilities.
Jerwood L. (1999). Using special needs assistants effectively. British Journal of Special Education, 26(3), 127-129.
After interviews with seven English special needs assistants found that they lacked clear ideas about expectations and reported poor classroom communication, the assistants were attached to one subject area rather than to specific pupils. Results found the assistants all felt happier in their work and accepted as members of the team. (Author/CR)
Killoran J., Templeman, T. P., Peters, J., & Udell, T. (2001) Identifying paraprofessional competencies for early intervention and early childhood special education. Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(1), 68-73.
This article identifies competencies needed by paraprofessionals working in early childhood special education including ways to document various mastery levels. It describes use of the competencies in Oregon’s early childhood special education personnel development program. It explains the process used to identify needed competencies and also reports on a survey of 64 paraprofessionals of their perceived training needs. (Contains references.) (DB)
Ledford J., Zimmerman, K., et al. (2017). Coaching paraprofessionals to promote engagement and social interactions during small group activities. Journal of Behavioral Education, 26(4), 410-432.
Paraprofessionals need adequate training and supports to assist young children with autism spectrum disorders to engage in appropriate social interactions during small group activities with their peers. In this study, we used in situational coaching and brief post-session feedback to improve the use of environmental arrangement, prompting, and praise by three paraprofessionals working in inclusive classrooms. Results suggested the brief coaching intervention was effective for improving target behaviors. In addition, generalized use of behaviors and child outcomes were positive. Situational feedback is a promising practice for improving use of evidence-based practices by non-certified personnel in early childhood settings.
Lewis, S., & McKenzie, A. R. (2010). The competencies, roles, supervision, and training needs of paraeducators working with students with visual impairments in local and residential schools. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 104 (8), 464–477.
Paraeducators who were employed by local school districts and residential schools for students with visual impairments were surveyed to determine if there are differences in their roles, training needs, and perceptions of supervisors’ competencies. The paraeducators in local schools reported more training, the provision of less direct service, and greater supervision by more competent teachers of students with visual impairments than did their residential school counterparts.
Lewis, S., & McKenzie, A. R. (2009). Knowledge and Skills for Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments Supervising the Work of Paraeducators. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness, 103(8), 481-494.
Teachers of students with visual impairments and paraeducators who work with students with visual impairments were surveyed to determine if previous research related to the competencies needed by teachers who supervise paraeducators applied to this subset of special educators. Both groups confirmed the importance of the competencies, but identified differences in their demonstration by teachers of students with visual impairments. (Contains 2 tables and 2 figures.)
Maggin, D.M., Wehby, J.H., Moore-Partin, T.C., Robertson, R, Oliver, R.M. (2009). Supervising paraeducators in classrooms for children with emotional and behavioral disorders. Beyond Behavior, 18(3), 2-9.
The academic and behavioral difficulties exhibited by students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) provide educators with unique challenges. Students with EBD tend to display aggression, noncompliance, and other conduct problems at higher rates and with more stability than typically developing peers (Kauffman, 2005 Dazdin, 1987). For example, children with EBD have been observed to emit more negative statements toward teachers and to display more inappropriate behaviors than typically developing peers. These data suggest that children with EBD can be distinguished from the general population for their behavioral excesses that often divert teacher energies away from instruction.
Mason R., Schnitz, A., Willis, H., Rosenbloom, R., Kamps, D. & Bast, D. (2017). Impact of a teacher-as-coach model: improving paraprofessionals fidelity of implementation of discrete trial training for students with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47, 1696-1707.
Ensuring educational progress for students with moderate-to-severe developmental disabilities requires exposure to well executed evidence-based practices. This necessitates that the special education workforce, including paraprofessionals, be well-trained. Yet evidence regarding effective training mechanisms for paraprofessionals is limited. A multiple baseline design across five teachers was used to evaluate the impact of online instructional modules and a Practice-Based Coaching (PBC) model with teacheras-coach on their paraprofessionals’ fidelity of discrete trial training (DTT). Implementation of the instructional modules yielded little to no change in paraprofessionals’ DTT fidelity, however, a clear functional relation between PBC and improvement in paraprofessionals’ fidelity of implementation of DTT was demonstrated. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.
McKenzie, A. R. & Lewis, S. (2008). The role and training of paraprofessionals who work with students who are visually impaired. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 102, 459-471.
This survey of teachers of students with visual impairments and paraprofessionals who work with students with visual impairments found that more than 35% of the paraprofessionals were providing direct instruction in skills in the expanded core curriculum. Thus, the roles of these two groups need to be clarified.
Mistry, M., Burton, N., & Brundrett, M. (2004). Managing LSAs: An evaluation of the use of learning support assistants in an urban primary school, School Leadership & management, 24(2), 125-137.
The multi-tasking of classroom or learning support assistants (LSAs) is a well-established phenomenon in English primary schools. As their roles have become better defined and specifically funded an element of role specialism has become essential. However, the management and direction of LSAs does not always appear to be clearly or effectively structured. Evidence collected from a small urban English lower school (4-9 years old) shows that job descriptions can be inaccurate and management structures ambiguous. Whilst senior management is able to visualize the ideal, lack of effective communication results in inefficient and arbitrary management of LSAs by teaching staff. The lack of a clear line-management structure and ownership issues concerning the tasks performed are identified as the key barriers to improving the situation.
Morgan J., & Ashbaker, B.Y. (2001). A teacher’s guide to working with paraeducators and other classroom aides. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
This book provides advice and activities to help forge productive working relationships between teachers and paraeducators. Chapter 1, “Leading the Classroom Instructional Team,” examines teacher responsibilities as leaders of classroom instructional teams, discussing how their new roles as paraeducator supervisors can mesh with more traditional roles. Chapter 2, “Assigning Roles and Responsibilities,” examines the process of identifying roles and responsibilities for paraeducators. Chapter 3, “Improving Communications,” considers different approaches and experiences adults bring to classrooms and how they influence effective communication. Chapter 4, “Monitoring the Quality of Your Paraeducator’s Work”; chapter 5, “Providing On-the-Job Training”; and chapter 6, “Creating a Feedback Loop,” describe the process of assessing paraeducator skills and abilities, providing training, and establishing procedures for giving and receiving feedback. Chapter 7, “The Logistics”; chapter 8, “Troubleshooting”; and chapter 9, “Practicing What You’ve Learned,” examine practical concerns. The first seven chapters provide suggestions for translating chapter subject matter into specific classroom situations, offering fill-in-the-blank forms that can serve as the basis of self-improvement plans and help teachers set personal goals related to supervisory roles. A list of organizations that provide useful information for paraeducators and teachers is included. (SM)
Nevin, A., Villa, R. A., & Thousand, J. S. (2009). A guide to co-teaching with paraeducators: Practical tips for K-12 educators. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Osborne C. & Burton, S. (2014). Emotional Literacy Support Assistants’ views on supervision provided by educational psychologists: What EPs can learn from group supervision. Educational Psychology in Practice: Theory, Research and Practice in Educational Psychology, 30(2), 139-155,
The Educational Psychology Service in this study has responsibility for providing group supervision to Emotional Literacy Support Assistants (ELSAs) working in schools. To date, little research has examined this type of inter-professional supervision arrangement. The current study used a questionnaire to examine ELSAs’ views on the supervision provided to them. Key areas of interest were the extent to which supervision was perceived to be meeting ELSAs’ needs, their relationship with their supervisor and other group members, the advantages and disadvantages of receiving supervision as a group, and the impact of supervision on practice. Questionnaires were returned by 270 ELSAs. The responses indicated that the majority felt that their supervision needs were being met and that they had a good relationship with their supervisor and other group members. Supervision was generally considered to be a useful mechanism for discussing cases, sharing ideas and problem-solving. Consequently, the majority felt better able to support pupils as a result of this support. The results are discussed in light of the dual role that educational psychologists (EPs) who provide this type of supervision have, and the implications of this for educational psychology practice.
Pickett A. L. (1999). Strengthening and supporting teacher/provider-paraeducator teams: Guidelines for paraeducator roles, supervision, and preparation. New York, New York: City University of New York, National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals in Education and Related Services.
This technical assistance manual contains guidelines for paraeducator roles, supervision, and skill and knowledge competency standards on which policymakers and implementers can build to improve the effectiveness of teacher/provider-paraeducator teams. The guidelines and standards were developed by a project of national significance funded by the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education. Specific sections address: (1) guiding principles of paraeducator employment roles, preparation, and supervision; (2) the need for paraeducator utilization and preparation guidelines; (3) factors creating a critical need for the development and implementation of standards for paraeducator roles, responsibilities, skill and knowledge competencies, and supervision; (4) distinctions in teacher/provider and paraeducator team roles; (5) scope of teacher/provider responsibilities for paraeducator supervision; (6) standards for teacher/provider supervisory competencies; (7) paraeducator scope of responsibilities and skill standards; (8) scope of responsibilities for paraeducators in program implementation teams; (9) standards for paraeducator knowledge and skill competencies; (10) job descriptions for paraeducators; (11) assessing teacher/provider-paraeducator team performance; (12) teacher performance indicators; (13) paraeducator performance indicators; (14) developing the policies and infrastructures for strengthening teacher/provider-paraeducator teams; (15) credentialing procedures for paraeducators; and (16) the role of higher education in paraeducator preparation. (Contains 38 references.) (CR)
Pickett A.L., & Gerlach, K. (1997). Supervising paraeducators in school settings: A team approach. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.
The first chapter provides a historical review of the evolving role of paraeducators and some of the central issues facing education today. Chapter two discusses team roles in instructional settings; chapter three addresses team roles in therapy services; chapter four covers the management of paraeducators; chapter five describes team building strategies; chapter six examines professional and ethical issues in teams; and chapter seven discusses paraeducator administrative issues. The authors also discuss future issues in chapter eight and the contribution of paraeducators to improving educational outcomes for students. Chapters are organized by learning objectives and discussion questions. Exercises, case studies, and worksheets are provided to illustrate main ideas.
Railsback J., Reed, B., & Schmidt, K. (2002). Working together for successful paraeducator services: A guide for paraeducators, teachers, and principals. Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Portland, OR.
This booklet provides an overview of the current issues surrounding paraeducator employment and synthesizes recommendations of various national, state, and local paraeducator task force groups. Based on these recommendations, the booklet outlines suggestions for paraeducators, teachers, and principals to increase paraeducator effectiveness. After an introduction, the booklet focuses on: “In Context: What are the Current Issues Involving Paraeducators?” (concerns about preparation training, and roles and about recent legislation); “How are Researchers, Practitioners, and Policymakers Responding to These Concerns and Policies?”; “What are the Guidelines for Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities?” (roles for teachers, principals, and paraeducators); “Northwest Sampler” (Houghtaling Elementary School, Ketchikan, Alaska; Oakwood Elementary School, Preston, Idaho; Hardin Public Schools, Hardin, Montana; and Cherrydale School, Steilacoom, Washington); and “Conclusion” (paraeducators can offer tremendous benefits for children, providing instructional reinforcement that enhances every student’s opportunity to learn, meet standards, and achieve academic success). An appendix presents existing or proposed state paraeducator certification policies. Relevant resources are listed. (Contains 28 references.) (SM)
Riggs C. G. (May/June 2004). To teachers: What paraeducators want you to know. Teaching Exceptional Children, 36(5), 8-12.
This article shares the following ten points:
- Know the paraeducator’s name, background, and interests.
- Be familiar with district policies for paraeducators.
- View the teacher and paraeducator as a team.
- Share your classroom expectations with paraeducators.
- Define specific roles and responsibilities for paraeducators and teachers.
- Direct and supervise paraeducators — it is the teacher’s responsibility.
- Communicate with paraeducators.
- Recognize that paraeducators have experience and knowledge to share.
- As the teacher, take ownership of all students.
- Show respect for paraeducators.
Riggs C. G. (2002). Providing administrative support for classroom paraeducators: What’s a building administrator to do? Rural Special Education Quarterly 21 (3), 10-14.
This article addresses the changing role administrators have over the hiring and supervision of paraeducators. Historically paraeducators worked primarily under the supervision of special educators. With the dramatic increase in the use of paraeducators in general education classrooms over the past decade, administrators have been called upon to interact more directly with paraeducators.
Riggs discusses the three “R’s” that can help define administrative support for paraeducators.
- Responsibilities – clear definition of their roles and responsibilities within the school and classroom, and between the teacher and the paraeducator.
- Relationships – good communication between paraeducators, teachers and administrators is essential to helping a paraeducator feel valued and part of a team.
- Respect – administrators should help emphasize to the school staff the importance of paraeducators by making sure that staff members treat them as part of the educational team.
Riggs also provides a list titled “Ten Tips for Providing Administrative Support”.
Rutherford, G. (2008). “Yeah, he’s just like you.” The role of teacher aides in supporting children’s understandings of and relationships with one another. New Zealand Journal of Disability Studies, 13, 81-100.
Salzberg C.L., & Morgan, J. (1995). Preparing teachers to work with paraeducators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 18, 49-55.
The authors cite five reasons for increased interest in paraprofessionals. They note that the growing use of paraeducators raises different problems for teachers. They also review commonalities in training programs / recommendations
Scheeler M. C., Morano, S., & Lee, D. L. (2016). Effects of immediate feedback using bug-in-ear with paraeducators working with students with autism. Teacher Education and Special Education, 1-15. DOI: 10.1177/0888406416666645
In today’s autistic-support classrooms, paraeducators are tasked with working with our neediest students yet report that they are unprepared for their roles despite attempts at training. The special education teachers who are tasked with coaching and supervising several paraeducators at a time in their classrooms report that they too are unprepared to work with paraeducators in this capacity. In this study, the authors examine the effects of the special education teacher providing immediate feedback via bug-in-ear to the paraeducator on increasing a specific teaching behavior, providing contingent specific praise. Two special education teachers and four paraeducators working in two separate autistic-support classrooms participated in the multiplebaseline across participants study. When immediate feedback from the teacher was introduced in the intervention condition, percentage of occurrences of contingent specific praise increased for all paraeducators and continued at high levels even when the intervention was faded. Rate of occurrences also increased. In addition, the special education teachers and paraeducators all rated the intervention as a beneficial technique they liked using and found motivating and helpful. Implications for classroom use are discussed.
Stacey, K. Harvey, S., & Richrads, H. (2013). Teachers working with ESOL paraprofessionals in a secondary context: Examining supervision. Teaching and Teacher Education, 36, 55-67.
Internationally paraprofessionals are increasingly employed as one option of providing support for English language learners (ELLs) in schools. Consequently more teachers are working with paraprofessionals and becoming responsible for their supervision. This article examines the supervision of eight paraprofessionals working in secondary schools in New Zealand. To maximise learning benefits for ELLs, we argue that robust systems of supervision are required for ESOL paraprofessionals. While this study is located in New Zealand we believe it illuminates issues that are of international interest in education systems that are struggling to stay abreast of and adequately cater for ethnic and linguistic diversity.
Steckelberg A.L. Vasa, S.F., Kemp, S.E. (2007). A web-based training model for preparing teachers to supervise paraeducators. Teacher Education and Special Education, 30(1), 52-55.
Paraeducators have been widely used to expand services provided in special education programs (Giangreco, Broer, & Edelman, 2002; Giangreco, Edelman, Luiselli, & MacFarland,1997). The effectiveness of paraprofessionals depends heavily on their preparation and supervision (Gerber, Finn, Achilles, & BoydZaharias, 2001). Training and supervision are carried out primarily by teachers, yet traditionally teacher education programs have not adequately prepared teachers for this responsibility (Drecktrah,2000; May & Marozas, 1986; Wallace,Shin, Bartholomay, & Stahl, 2001). In 1999, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was funded by a Project of National Significance from the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education to develop and field test a model for training teachers to effectively supervise paraeducators. The project created competency-based, accessible, and systematic training materials that could be delivered via the Web (http://para.unl.edu). The training materials were designed to be used either as a stand-alone self-study package or as an adjunct to additional face-to-face instruction in a traditional course.
Stockwell N. (2014). When an aide really becomes an aid: Providing professional development for special education paraprofesionals. Teaching Exceptional Children, 46(1), 197-205.
The article examines how to provide professional development opportunities for paraprofessionals working in special education, using the experiences of a early childhood education teacher working with an aide as an example. Particular attention is given to the value of basic communication skills, mentoring, and the use of direct instruction training models (DITM).
Tews, L., & Lupart, J. (2008). Student with disabilities’ perspectives of the role and impact of paraprofessionals in inclusive education settings. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 5(1), 39-46.
Over the past few decades, the role and presence of the paraprofessional, that is the educational assistant, within the classroom has evolved from providing teacher and student support to involving greater decision-making concerning instructional content and practice. The extent to which this shift is impacting students with a variety of mild to severe developmental disabilities is a crucial question that to date remains under-researched and unanswered. The authors studied this issue by probing students’ perceptions concerning the role of their paraprofessionals and their impact on the student’s inclusive education experience. The authors explored the following perspective areas noted by the students: student personal control, impact on peer relations, dependency on adults, instructional relationship of teachers compared to paraprofessionals, and inclusion of peers. In general, the authors found that students felt that their paraprofessionals were viewed favorably by peers, but that promotion of socialization and peer networking may have been compromised as they reported that they spent a majority of the school day interacting with the paraprofessional as opposed to other students. Other factors bear consideration as well, and the authors conclude that the educational system continues to be in need of revamping, and that the efficacy of the system needs to be demonstrated by empirical evidence.
Tobin, R. (2006). Five ways to facilitate the teacher assistant’s work in the classroom. TEACHING Exceptional Children Plus, 2(6), Article 4.
A teacher and a teacher assistant, working together in an inclusive grade-six classroom, provided an invaluable insider perspective on the kind of context that leads to effective support for all students. Findings from this case study revealed five ways in which the teacher could facilitate the work of the teacher assistant, by: 1) focusing on relationship building (nudging instead of nagging); 2) monitoring the amount of teacher talk to afford mini-lessons; 3) applying the basics of differentiation and universal design; 4) negotiating classroom management roles and sharing responsibilities for students; and 5) using an action-oriented format to shape the communication agenda.
Trautman, M. L. (2004). Preparing and managing paraprofessionals. Intervention in School and Clinic, 39(3), 131-138.
More than 525,000 people serve as educational paraprofessionals in the United States (Likins, 2003). Due to the large number of paraprofessionals, their recruitment, hiring, training, and supervision has received increased emphasis. This article summarizes current legislation regarding the roles and responsibilities of paraeducators, and methods and ideas are suggested for preparing and managing paraeducators. (Contains 2 illustrations and 5 figures.)
Wallace T., Shin, J., Bartholomay, T., Stahl, B. (2001). Knowledge and skills for teachers supervising the work of paraprofessionals. Exceptional Children, 67, 520-533.
This study identified competencies needed by teachers to supervise or direct the work of paraprofessionals in educational settings. Participants included 92 administrators, 266 teachers, and 211 paraprofessionals. Respondents completed a survey of prospective competencies for teachers supervising the work of paraprofessionals. In addition, respondents were asked about the extent to which they observed teachers’ demonstration of these competencies in their school environments. Results of the study suggest that participants considered the competencies very important, but that the competencies were not observed as frequently as their perceived importance. For teachers who reported they did not demonstrate competencies, it was often due to a lack of preservice preparation or professional staff development opportunities. Implications for practice are discussed.