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Supporting Coteaching Classrooms (Part 1): Paraprofessionals

Updated: Apr 9, 2021

Paraprofessionals, instructional assistants or paraeducators, are the names given to persons who provide support to disabled and nondisabled students in general education classrooms. I will use the term paraprofessionals to discuss these teachers who often gain remarkable trust from diverse learners. These providers play an integral part in supporting students, classroom teachers, and accommodating students in different educational programs, and the many special needs programs. In today’s schools, paraprofessionals assist with instructional and behavioral needs of SWDs under the supervision of certified teachers, administrators, and therapists.

Paraprofessionals are the key supporters of students with varied disabilities. They deal with a broad spectrum of disabilities. Some of the disabilities are emotional aSnd behavioral disorders, moderate disabilities, down’s syndrome, severe disabilities, autism spectrum, visual impairments, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Paraprofessionals spend their time in various educational settings such as reading intervention groups, art classrooms, music classrooms, self-contained classrooms, physical education classroom, vocational rehabilitation centers, residential centers, and sometimes hospitals. In addition, some paraeducators assist with students with behavioral problems, they are crisis paras, and some students need assistance with health issues.

While paraprofessionals are there to support and assist SWDs needs and the program, the main responsibility of the paraprofessional is to make the necessary changes to the general education curriculum by modifying and implementing accommodations and modifications to the lessons that are planned by coteacher.

Accommodations are changes made to the instructions or learning environment that do not change what the student is expected to learn. In contrast, modifications are changes made to the content, instruction or learning environment that change what the student is expected to learn

Some of the modifications that are provided are: accommodating for specific teaching methods, monitoring student progress, reading materials and test aloud, instructional support for small groups, implementing behavioral management plans, providing note-taking assistance, and personal care assistance.

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