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What Is a Paraeducator?

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  • 0:04 What Is a Paraeducator?
  • 1:04 What Does a Paraeducator Do?
  • 2:19 Becoming a Paraeducator
  • 2:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Thinking of becoming a paraeducator, or wondering what is required if you do? This lesson describes the responsibilities and roles paraeducators play in school support teams.

What Is a Paraeducator?

Most teachers are willing to accept help and could use an extra pair of eyes in their classrooms. That's where paraeducators come in. The National Education Association defines a paraeducator as an 'employee who works alongside and under the supervision of a licensed or certificated educator to support and assist in providing instructional and other services to children, youth, and their families.' These professionals wear many hats in education, including:

  • working with students in small groups or individually
  • assisting in specialist classrooms, such as the library, the computer lab, or a physical education class
  • lending a hand with classroom behavior and management
  • leading or assisting with events to increase parent involvement
  • translating documents or acting as a translator for parent meetings involving English as a Second Language families
  • assisting teachers in day-to-day classroom routines and procedures
  • assisting a special needs student with educational or personal tasks

What Does a Paraeducator Do?

Typically, paraeducators report directly to a teacher with whom they work, or an administrator who is tasked with organizing paraprofessionals' job responsibilities. Schools and districts choose to employ their paraprofessionals in many forms. Some are hired as general paraprofessionals and have varying job responsibilities as needs arise. Others are appointed to a specific position, such as a teacher's assistant or a child advocate. These paraeducators can expect the same basic responsibilities on a daily basis.

Paraeducators who are hired to work in a general capacity may find themselves in many positions throughout the school day and year. Often, they supervise lunch or recess duty, substitute in classrooms when teachers are called to meetings or are absent, make copies, mentor students, or assist in organizing an activity such as a back-to-school picnic. Because jobs and responsibilities can vary, paraeducators should be flexible and multi-skilled.

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