Strategies & Procedures for Managing Paraeducators

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  • 0:03 What Are Paraeducators?
  • 0:55 Scheduling and Coordination
  • 1:42 Supervision
  • 2:30 Communication
  • 3:29 Family Involvement
  • 3:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Often, as special education teachers, the paraprofessionals we work with can make all the difference in student success. This lesson discusses important strategies and procedures for working with paraeducators.

What Are Paraeducators?

Andrea has been teaching special education in an inclusive sixth grade classroom, where students with disabilities learn alongside their typically developing peers, for the last decade.

Over the course of the past few years, she has had more opportunities to include paraeducators, which are professionals who work as support staff in the educational setting. In Andrea's class this year, there are actually two paraeducators. One is assigned as a one-on-one aide to a student with autism. The other is a general support for the classroom and specifically for the students with IEPs.

Andrea is so grateful to have the support of these additional adults, but she also knows that communicating and coordinating with them properly will be crucial to her own comfort in her classroom, as well as her students' success. She sets about to learn more about strategies and procedures for working with paraeducators.

Scheduling and Coordination

First of all, Andrea understands that it will be crucial to maintain and coordinate consistent schedules with her paraeducators. For instance, they need to coordinate who goes on a lunch break when, so that students are never left without the support they need. One of Andrea's paraeducators takes a class one afternoon per week, and Andrea knows that this is very important. She accounts for this individual's absence when she plans her Tuesday afternoons.

Any time Andrea plans a special event, field trip, or unusual classroom activity, she discusses scheduling with the paraeducators; it is during these special times when students with disabilities are more likely to need attention and support. Andrea also establishes communication plans for scheduling known absences with the paraeducators in her classroom.


Andrea knows that every school or district has its own system for supervision, or observation and guidance, of paraeducators. Sometimes this is the teacher's responsibility, and other times, it is an administrative responsibility.

Although Andrea's principal is responsible for the more formal supervision and evaluation of the paraeducators in her classroom, she also feels responsible for informally supervising their work with students. Every month or so, Andrea and her paraeducators set aside a time to discuss how their work is going with the students, what improvements they see in their students, and their own practice with the students, along with what areas they would like to work on. Andrea also tries to make time for informal observation of her paraeducators, and she provides them with positive reinforcement as well as constructive feedback.


The relationship between a teacher and a paraeducator is a very close one. Andrea spends more time with the paraeducators in her classroom than with almost any other adults in her life! This means that keeping lines of communication open is crucial.

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