ParaEducators (PE's) play a critical role in our work of supporting all students in inclusive settings. The primary role for ParaEducators is to support students in learning academic skills. In addition, PE's support students in communication, behavior, organization, social-emotional, mobility, transition and skills of daily living.
While some students may need significant support from ParaEducators, we are always working toward developing independence and phasing out support (in accordance with the principles of Least Restrictive Environment and Inclusive Cultures).
Highlights of Research Articles about Paraeducators
- If paraeducators do not intentionally promote positive peer interactions, they may accidentally increase a student’s feeling of social isolation. Other students may perceive the paraeducator as a barrier that keeps them from interacting with the student.
- If the paraeducator uses intentional strategies to reduce verbal and gestural prompts, students can develop greater independence and voice.
- Students supported by a paraeducator sitting next to them all day may not learn how to seek help in more typical ways (peers, classroom resources, general ed teacher, google, etc.)
- Students supported by a paraeducator sitting next to them all day may not be given opportunities to try things on their own, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes.
Research and Resources:
The Paraprofessional’s Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms (Causton-Theoharis, 2009)
Avoiding Over-Use of Paraeducators (Stetson; Inclusive Schools Network, 2015)
Be Careful What You Wish For: Five Reasons to be Concerned About the Assignment of Individual Paraprofessionals (Giangreco, et al.; Teaching Exceptional Children, 2005)
What Do Paraeducators in Inclusive Classrooms Say About Their Work? (Liston, Nevin & Malian; Teaching Exceptional Children, 2009)
Teacher Assistants in Inclusive Schools (Giangreco & Doyle; The SAGE Handbook of Special Education, 2007)
One-to-One Paraprofessionals for Students with Disabilities in Inclusive Classrooms: Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong? (Giangreco; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 2010)
Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants (Sharples, Webster & Blatchford; Education Endowment Foundation, 2015)