Paraprofessionals (Paras) take on a variety of different roles in the classroom. They might support the entire class, a small group, or a specific student, physically and/or academically. They can be excellent resources if you communicate your needs to them.
Share goals, expectations, and specific roles with Paraprofessionals at the beginning of class.
Invite Paraprofessionals to participate in activities.
There are two different types of Paraprofessionals: Classroom Paraprofessionals (for the entire class) and 1:1 Paraprofessionals (for individual students).
What are Paraprofessionals?
Paraprofessionals (Paras) are school employees who assist in supporting students and instruction under the supervision of the Classroom Teacher. Paras take on a variety of different roles in the classroom: supporting the entire class, a small group, or a specific student, physically and/or academically. Here are some other things to know about Paras:
Paraprofessional is often shortened to Para.
Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) classrooms may or may not have Paraprofessionals.
Each self-contained class will have at least one Classroom Paraprofessional, and may have as many as one per student (1:1 Paraprofessionals).
Paraprofessionals are sometimes referred to as Classroom Assistants or Classroom Aides by the staff in the room.
Differences between Classroom and 1:1 Paraprofessionals:
Classroom Paraprofessionals help the entire class or float between several students.
One-to-One (1:1) Paraprofessionals work with one student and stay with that student at all times. They may be supporting students for behavior, crisis situations, or for another specific need.
In an ICT classroom, you may also encounter Related Service Providers (RSPs). Paraprofessionals fill a different role from RSPs: GIVE Resource: Related Service Providers.
You may also encounter medical aides or nurses assisting students with specific needs or functions. The medical staff will communicate with you if there is anything specific that you need to know. This staff may provide supports such as
being on hand to provide medical care related to specific medical conditions;
supporting a student with bathroom needs.
Remote Teaching and Learning Tip
Paraprofessionals’ roles are wide-ranging both in-person and remotely. Our resource Remote Learning: Who Is in the Virtual Room? can help you work with Paraprofessionals, other Classroom Professionals, and caregivers when you teach remotely.
Specific Areas Paraprofessionals May Assist With
Leading a small group.
Reviewing content one-on-one with a student.
Working alongside the teacher.
Modeling an activity.
Providing instruction to a student one-on-one.
Prompting a student to respond to social cues.
Reminding a student of expected behavior.
Utilizing speech devices or modules.
Implementing Behavior Intervention Plans.
Providing praise and positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior.
Giving a student a break after they have completed a set number of tasks.
Re-focusing the student on the task at hand.
Giving the student a reward for remaining on task.
Prompting the student to sit down, stand up, or participate.
Providing verbal prompts.
Providing physical prompts.
Using a visual schedule.
Using a timer.
Giving the student a token/reward.
Redirecting the student back to a task.
Pairing the student with an appropriate classmate.
Paras can be an incredible support during your residency, workshop, or lesson. To assist you, they need to be aware of what you are doing and how they can support the students to work toward your goals. So be prepared to share the following information ahead of time, at the start of your class, or at the beginning of each activity so that they can be effective.
What is the activity?
What is the goal for the activity?
What role should the Paraprofessionals serve in this activity?
What are the expectations for the student?
What is important for the activity to be successful?