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How to Hire a Paraprofessional

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Paraprofessionals offer general support for teachers through materials preparation for classrooms. They do a variety of things, including preparing instructions and grading assignments. They look after various services like social skills development and autism support. A paraprofessional can offer crisis intervention and emotional support for students. Following is an overview of what you’ll need to know if you want to know how to hire a paraprofessional.

The Role of a Paraprofessional

Paraprofessionals work closely with teachers to do things like implement lesson plans. They often work with small groups of students. Some can modify learning materials to suit special education needs. They work at building strong relationships with students and resolving conflicts where necessary.

Paraprofessional vs. Classroom Teacher

Classroom teachers are responsible for implementing and designing lessons. Their job is to align curriculums with educational standards.

Paraprofessionals supply additional support to teachers. They often work in small groups or one-on-one with students who need extra help. They don’t typically administer or design student assessments. Their role is supportive.

Paraprofessional Duties and Responsibilities

The assignments these paraprofessionals usually get include:

Helping students with assignments and lesson plans. They can demonstrate critical thinking skills and problem-solving techniques. Training plan templates can assist in organizing their activities.
Providing instructional support and emotional support to students. They use modeling techniques here to help students understand new ideas. How to onboard new employees can be useful here in the context of integrating new paraprofessionals.
They support management in the classroom and foster safety needs. Fostering a consistent routine helps here. Building a team with contractors and freelancers could be an additional approach.
They help in developing executive function skills. They create visual aids and checklists for assignments.
Collaborating in an IEP meeting and adapting strategies based on the child’s needs. They collect data on the student’s challenges and successes. The child’s IEP uses the info to create goals. At times, one may wonder, should I hire a family member for this role?

Qualities of an Exceptional Paraprofessional

Successful paraprofessionals have excellent qualities they use to their advantage in the school setting. Add these to a paraprofessional job description when you’re looking to hire.

They have strong communication skills that come in handy for special education students. Those include strong writing and listening abilities.
They are empathetic and patient to foster a positive learning environment.
They have the flexibility to adapt to different learning scenarios.

An exceptional paraprofessional can work closely with therapists, other support staff, and teachers.

Steps to Hire a Paraprofessional

Follow these steps to hire one of these experts.

Crafting an Effective Paraprofessional Job Description

Straightforward, clear language is best when you’re describing expectations and responsibilities. Make sure the entire description is concise. Outline day-to-day tasks and specific roles pertaining to a child’s education.

Make sure the education and qualifications required are clearly stated.

Finding the Right Paraprofessional Candidates

It’s important to have a thoughtful, targeted approach here. You can post job openings on a school district’s website and educational job platforms for a private school. Some states have dedicated job portals that come in handy. Partnering with educational recruiting agencies can also help you find the right paraprofessional. Unusual ways to promote a job opening can be effective as well.

Interviewing for a Paraprofessional Job

When interviewing candidates, you want to gauge their ability to support teachers, communicate with parents and students, and their knowledge of educational tools. Here are a few tips:

Ask how they change instructions to accommodate different abilities and learning lifestyles.
Ask a question about the methods they use to cooperate with teachers.
Find out how they communicate with students struggling with a particular subject.

Check references and consider incorporating role-playing scenarios. The Star Method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) can be used too. Interview rejection letters are sometimes needed if a candidate is not the right fit.

Evaluating Paraprofessionals through Practical Assessments

Here’s a simulated scenario you can suggest.

“You must cooperate with the teacher on lessons for the week. The teachers are open to suggestions. Please walk us through the planning process.”

Study the response to see how creative they are in proposing engaging activities. Pay careful attention to see if the candidate understands the lesson objectives.

Criteria for SelectionInterview QuestionsSkills to Look ForAssessment Methods

Educational QualificationsWhat is your educational background in relation to this role?An associate degree or relevant certificationReview of educational documents

ExperienceCan you discuss your previous experience in similar roles?At least 1-2 years of experience in a similar settingWork history verification

Communication SkillsHow would you handle a disagreement with a teacher or coworker?Ability to articulate ideas clearly and listen activelyIn-person or video interview

Empathy & PatienceHow would you assist a student who is struggling with a task?Caring attitude, patienceRole-play scenarios

Classroom ManagementWhat strategies do you use for maintaining a conducive learning environment?Ability to manage small groups of studentsReference checks from former employers

AdaptabilityHow do you adapt to new teaching methods or educational tools?Flexibility and quick learningSituational questions during interview

Special Needs ExperienceDo you have experience working with students with special needs?Experience or willingness to work with diverse learning needsReview of past special needs experience or training

CollaborationHow do you typically collaborate with other educators?Teamwork and effective interpersonal relationshipsTeam-based interview questions

Technical SkillsAre you comfortable using educational software and technology?Basic computer skills, knowledge of educational softwareTechnical skills test

Cultural SensitivityHow do you ensure inclusivity in a diverse classroom setting?Awareness of cultural differences and inclusion techniquesQuestions about diversity and inclusion

The Significance of an Independent Educational Evaluation

These IEPs are tailored to every student’s individual learning profile. This is a legal document that is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the USA.

These IEP’s monitor a student’s progress so educators can evaluate it over a period of time. Paraprofessionals use these to provide instructional support. They can also attend IEP meetings to help an autistic child.

Continuous Training and Development for Paraprofessionals

Ongoing training can include staying abreast of new educational techniques. Paraprofessionals should pay attention to evidence-based strategies.

They should also be aware of specialized educational needs that can help evolve over time, like autism spectrum disorder support.

FAQs: How to Hire a Paraprofessional

Here are some concise answers to frequently asked questions about this line of work.

How can a paraprofessional help students with special needs?

A paraprofessional can help implement what’s in a behavioral intervention plan. They can collaborate with teachers and share observations and insights. These professionals can also provide information to special education teams.

What are the key communication skills required for a successful paraprofessional?

A successful paraprofessional needs to be aware of gestures and facial expressions as well as body language. Some of the other key communication skills needed include nodding and making eye contact as well as providing verbal cues.

They need to be able to express themselves in a clear and concise manner. A successful paraprofessional will avoid using jargon and complicated language when communicating with students.

They will work in a collaborative way with related service providers and teachers to foster a team-orientated approach. It’s important that the tone they use is both professional and friendly.

How much do paraprofessionals make?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has pegged the average wage for these teachers’ assistants at $27,660 in May 0f 2020. According to the employment website Indeed, the average base salary for paraprofessionals in the United States is $18:12 an hour.

According to the same source, the highest-paying city in the United States is Brooklyn, New York at $21.37 per hour.

Do paraprofessionals get paid in the summer?

That depends on the specific terms of their contracts and the policies of the educational institution or school district where they work. Some have 12-month contracts so they get paid all year round. Others have contracts that last nine months, so there’s no summer pay.

Image: Envato Elements

This article, “How to Hire a Paraprofessional” was first published on Small Business Trends

Paraprofessionals offer general support for teachers through material preparation for classrooms. Here is how to hire a paraprofessional.Read MoreStaffing, How to HireSmall Business Trends

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