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What Does a Paraeducator Do?

Most paraeducators have at least some familiarity with different pedagogical methods and theories.
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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 July 2014
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A paraeducator may perform a number of different duties depending on the needs of the school and the classroom in which he or she works. Often, a paraprofessional educator will work individually with students in order to improve the learning experience on an individual level. Some paraeducators work as translators, tutors, or technological assistants. In general, a paraeducator performs a task related to teaching for which he or she is highly qualified. Restrictions on qualifications, as well as on what types of tasks a paraprofessional can perform, are usually set by the area in which the school is located.

In most classrooms, a paraeducator is tasked with performing duties that assist the teacher and help the classroom run smoothly. Many educators of this type are interested in becoming teachers or may already be qualified as teachers, though this is not required to obtain this type of position. One of the most important duties of a paraeductor is organization, which may involve helping the teacher by handing out materials or doing office work.

The day-to-day tasks of a paraeducator can differ highly between employees. An individual who works primarily in special education, for example, may have a very different set of goals than a person who works with students who are learning the language in which the lessons are taught. Some schools use paraeducators to help keep advanced students stimulated, and these educators may focus on providing additional materials rather than aiming for basic comprehension.

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Many paraprofessional educators work specifically with special needs students, and in some cases this job can put emphasis on behavioral control. Students who are disruptive or unable to participate in classroom activities due to disabilities may sometimes require a paraeducator to accompany them to their classes. In cases of behavioral problems, the paraeducator's job is to assist the student in becoming a more acceptable member of the classroom, as well as to protect the learning experience of other students.

As in many other professions, the job of paraeducator is continually evolving to include new and different tasks. In some cases, paraeducators work as coaches or serve as primary liaisons to parents. One of the interesting duties a paraprofessional educator might perform is maintaining any online materials for a class. The defining feature of this position is that a paraeducator works directly under an educator, receiving supervision and obeying directives as provided. As the duties of a paraprofessional educator expand, the line between a teacher and an aide has the potential to grow dim and lead to abuse of this position.

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