6 Steps to Being a Successful Paraeducator

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Hello there,

For the past few days, I subbed as a paraeducator… I didn’t actually know I’d be serving in that capacity until I got to school the first day… but I’m always down for new experiences. I went to the same school for three straight days, so it was beneficial getting to know the people in the building. I got a job at the same school for next week! It pays to be present.

Here are three tips for future paraeducators:

  1. Know Your Role
    • According to Google,

      “A Paraeducator is defined as a school employee who works under the supervision of teachers or other professional practitioners. Their jobs are instructional in nature and they provide other direct services to children and youth and their families.”

    • A certificate or license can be obtained for this position, but it is not often required.
    • Know that you are support to the classroom teacher’s main objectives. You are an extension of the classroom teacher or administrator’s hands and feet.
  2. Introduce Yourself
    • Introduce yourself to the secretary, classroom teachers, and principal. Use a firm but friendly handshake. Let them know you aren’t a stranger in their classroom. If you do a good job and like the school/staff, leave a calling card in case they may need future subs.
  3. Be Willing, Present, and Ask Questions
    • From taking the job, to escorting a student to the office, be willing and available.
    • Ask the secretary and the classroom teacher about the particular students that you should be focusing on. There are usually 3-5 students that may have IEPs (Individualized Education Program) or need some more attention in addition to the main classroom teacher’s instructions. The school won’t expect you to know everything, but do your best. It’s always nice having an extra adult in the room to maintain an environment conducive to learning.
  4. Walk Around the Classroom
    • Even if he/she isn’t “your” student to focus on, do your best to help them if they seem lost. Thirty kids to one teacher can be tough ratio at times.
    • There were a couple instances when more than just “my” students needed help. In those cases, I just walked around the whole room and picked out those key students (students who have a tendency to cause distractions). I then focused on getting them to work. If the alpha male of the pack is working, the other students may also follow in turn.
  5. Be Patient and Compassionate
    • There are students who may be autistic or have issues focusing. If that’s the case, be patient and walk them through the steps. Think back to times when adult figures helped you through your problems, and pay it forward to the next generation.
    • If you don’t find yourself to be a patient or compassionate person, then I highly recommend that you reconsider your career choice. You may not belong in education, and that’s okay. There’s a place for all of us, just take some time to find yours.
  6. Follow Up With the Secretary
    • The secretary is usually the gatekeeper to the ins and outs of the school. Let him/her know how the day went and if you enjoyed it, that you’d like to return again. They may even give you another job, so make sure you make friends in high places!

Thanks again for reading and joining me onpagetwo! Let me know what you think of the list and what you’d like to add!

With Love,





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