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Role of Paraprofessionals

Paraprofessionals fulfill a variety of roles in today's classroom - direct service to students; communication with teachers, staff and parents; evaluation and discipline; and curriculum development and adaptation. Since the role can vary from student to student, classroom to classroom, school district to school district, and state to state, paraprofessionals sometimes find themselves in a vaguely defined job with unclear role expectations. Even the job titles vary from teaching assistant, classroom aide, student aide, and paraprofessional.

The following resources discuss the variety of roles, expectations, challenges and student perceptions of paraprofessionals.

"Working with Paraprofessionals" (PDF) by Michael F. Giangreco discusses the relationship between the classroom teacher and the paraprofessional. Difficulties that can arise, the need for realistic expectations, and attending to teacher engagement issues are discussed in depth. Impacts on students, both negative and positive, are also presented.

"How Paraeducators Build Cultural Bridges in Diverse Classrooms" by Robert Rueda and Carmen DeNeve presents a novel way to involve paraprofessionals in building home-school bridges through "funds of knowledge."

"Perspectives of Students With Intellectual Disabilities about their Experiences with Paraprofessional Support" by Stephen Broer, Mary Beth Doyle and Michael F. Giangreco explores how students who are assigned a paraprofessional feel about that relationship. This is a unique opportunity to think about the paraprofessional role from the perspective of the student being served.

The National Clearinghouse for Paraeducator Resources provides paraprofessionals information about issues pertaining to being a paraprofessional, relevant research abstracts, links to paraeducator resources, and a discussion board forum.

"Teacher Assistant" by Career Depot provides a list of various job responsibilities that might be incorporated in the paraprofessional role.

"Teacher's Assistant and Aide Job Description & Career Opportunities" by Job provides information on job responsibilities, career outlook, training and education, salary and wages and relevant professional associations.

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