Much attention has been paid to the current Teacher shortage. Rightfully so. Having quality Teachers in the classroom is critical to maintaining high educational standards and healthy communities. Another role that is vital to creating a positive and productive classroom experience is that of a Paraprofessional. People in Paraprofessional roles also receive a hands-on introduction to the teaching field, which may encourage them to pursue teaching. Often times, school districts will financially support a Paraprofessional’s journey to Teacher.
Paraprofessionals support the classroom in a variety of ways, but they often work with children who have special needs and may benefit from more one-on-one guidance and assistance. A Paraprofessional helps students reach the educational goals outlined in their individual education plan (IEP). The position has also played an increasingly important role during the Teacher shortage, stepping in to cover a Teacher’s duties when needed. In addition to assisting with special education and stepping in to lead the classroom when needed, Paraprofessionals also provide significant support to English as a Second Language (ESL) programs and early childhood education programs. While individual support is often paramount, they also support small groups of students. Realistically, the Paraprofessional may assist any student in a Teacher’s classroom given the needs of the classroom and the quantity of students.
Paraprofessionals (more commonly referred to a “Paras” in the school setting) receive most of their training on the job. The most common qualification for a Para is a high school diploma. Other than that, a desire to work with students and a desire to make a difference lead people to the role. People who have previous experience with children with disabilities may also find the Paraprofessional role rewarding. Paraprofessionals often enjoy a variety of excellent benefits and work/life balance.
If you’ve ever wondered what it may be like to work in an educational setting, the Paraprofessional role is a great place to start.