How does working with a paraeducator affect my role as a teacher?
A paraeducator? In my program? Extra help for my students? You bet! But, working effectively with paraeducators requires first and foremost the recognition that the presence of a paraeducator at once promises help and signals a dramatic shift in your role and responsibilities as a special education teacher.
Some teachers welcome this shift. The recognition that students who need special education services and adaptations to general education curriculum would not survive without additional assistance is so powerful that they accept this role change. Many teachers also recognize that they, working alone, cannot imaginably provide all the supports to each of the general education teachers who also teach their students. These teachers regard the work that paraeducators do as necessary to their success as a teacher and to the safety, health, and academic success of their students.
Today’s teachers also know that the assistance they receive from paraeducators comes with a price. It means that they lose some of the personalized one-to-one contact with students. Sometimes, this loss of contact also means sacrificing some control. One teacher talked about the paraeducator in her classroom: “Sometimes she does more individual instruction with the kids than I do. She is the teacher when I’m not there.”
The role of teachers and other service providers in schools becomes more like that of a middle-level executive, an engineer, or a doctor or lawyer, who consults with colleagues, diagnoses and plans, and then directs the work of paraeducators in order to meet the needs of the client or patient. In this case, the professionals plan curriculum, instruction, and appropriate adaptations and direct the paraeducator in helping to carry out the plans.
What are the Keys to Successful Paraeducator Supervision?
The seven keys to success as a school professional who supervises paraeducators are the same kinds of executive functions performed by team leaders in business. In businesses, team leaders or executives perform seven vital executive functions to keep the team working.
- Team leaders orient new paraeducators to the program, creating personalized job descriptions for each paraeducator.
- They set a schedule so all members know where they need to be, and when the work needs to be done.
- They provide plans and direction for the work that needs to be done.
- They delegate the right kinds of tasks to people who are best able to handle them.
- Executives make sure that their workgroup members have the right training to do the job, and help them get more training for new skills or they provide additional job-specific training themselves.
- They monitor the performance of group members to assure that the work gets done in the right way and they give feedback and coaching to the team members to help them do their work well.
- Finally, a team leader or executive makes sure that the workplace functions smoothly by creating communication pathways and systems, implementing problem solving sequences, and either mediating conflicts or assisting with conflict management approaches among team members.
7 Executive Functions:
- Monitor and Coach
- Manage the Workplace
Need More Information?
To get more information about supervising paraeducators you can check out our helpful links section on paraeducator supervision. You may also be interested in reading articles about supervision. To find articles of interest look at our Library.
Two excellent books that address Paraeducator Supervision are available through the publishers. Follow the publisher links listed below to order books.
Or you can go to Amazon and type in the word ‘paraeducators’ to find these and other resources on supervising paraeducators.
Finally, The PAR²A Center periodically offers training for teachers who want to improve their work with paraeducators – called the Paraeducator Supervision Academy (PSA). You can view an outline of the PSA class. Or you can read more about PSA in the CO-TOP Manual. The PAR²A Center Calendar will have dates of future PSA classes that are being offered and information about how to register.