A paraprofessional teacher provides assistance and support for a teacher both inside and outside the classroom. These teaching professionals, also known as teachers' aides, perform a wide variety of tasks depending on the setting and the relationship they have with the teachers they assist. Education requirements for a position as a paraprofessional teacher vary depending on regional regulations. In some cases, they may need to have teaching certifications of their own, while in others, an associate's degree in education or a similar field may be sufficient.
In the classroom, a paraprofessional teacher can help with discipline, provide one-on-one services to struggling students, pass out and collect classroom materials, and supervise students who need additional assistance. This can include disabled students who may need personal aides, as well as students who are having trouble with assignments or students with known discipline problems. The paraprofessional teacher may also run audiovisual equipment for the teacher.
When classes are not in session, paraprofessional teachers can be involved with lesson and materials preparation, including copying class materials, helping arrange field trips, and other activities. They can collect and grade homework and other course materials, meet with the teacher and other aides who may work in the classroom to discuss curricula and students of special concern, and can also be involved in other administrative and support tasks, like helping teachers apply for grants.
Paraprofessional teachers accompany classes on field trips and can be involved in activities like designing individualized education plans (IEPs) for disabled students who need particular care in the classroom. This may involve working with parents to discuss student needs along with discussing disability issues with a school's disability services coordinator and other staff members. In some cases, a paraprofessional teacher is retained as an aide who works directly with one student, in which case a classroom may have several aides present at any given time to meet the needs of the whole class.
Like fully credentialed teachers, these education professionals must be comfortable working with children in a broad range of environments. Many colleges offer training programs for people interested in positions in the educational field, including certification programs for paraprofessional teachers. It is advisable to check the contents of a program against the requirements for practice in the classroom to ensure that the training offered by the program will meet these requirements. People may also want to consider taking additional classes in topics like disability services and first aid so they can be more flexible and useful in the classroom.