As back-to-school commences this fall, in addition to the students and teachers returning to school buildings, somewhere between 160,000 and 250,000–or more–folks will be joining those students and teachers. Known by a variety of titles, from paraeducator and paraprofessional, to aid, to assistant teacher, these educational support personnel have the least training of people working in schools. Add the fact that most paraprofessionals are assigned to work with students with the most significant needs, and one can see why these positions are difficult to fill and have generally high turnover rates.
There are a couple of things that can be done to better assist paraprofessionals in their roles within schools. The first is to ensure more effective communication between teachers and the paraprofessionals who work with the same students and support them in the classrooms.
Building administrators should make sure that teachers provide clear and direct guidance for paraprofessionals at the beginning of each term. Often, paraprofessionals might be new to education and might not have much time to prepare for their assignment. One effective method is to have teachers who will work with paraprofessionals complete a short checklist explaining the items they want the paraprofessional to focus on and what they would prefer is left to the teacher. Building administrators then need to facilitate conversations between the teacher and paraprofessionals so expectations are clear. Such a practice can help eliminate problems before they arise by ensuing clear expectations are set for each paraprofessional.…Read More