Paraprofessionals are the Hidden Heroes of the Classroom

3 students sitting around a computer getting support from their paraprofessionals in their classroom at school.

Thanksgiving just passed. It is always a time of year I think about all that I am grateful for in my life.

I began thinking about the support within my school.

Paraprofessionals are the hidden heroes of the classroom.

I could not do my job as a special educator without the support of assistants.

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Before going any further, let me make sure that you understand what a paraprofessional is within a school environment.


Paraprofessionals are the Hidden Heroes of the Classroom


What is a Paraprofessional? 

A paraprofessional is someone who works in education and provides assistance like a teacher. However, they are not qualified and certified to teach alone in the classroom. 


Paraprofessionals are also known as:

  • teacher’s assistants
  • instructional assistants
  • paraeducators
  • one on one assistants
  • personal care aides
  • support staff 
  • aides
  • therapeutic support staff

What does a Paraeducator do? 

In many schools, special education teachers have students in multiple grade levels. Schools hire aides to assist the teachers. 

These aides help teachers with staying on task with each child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Plan). 

Teacher’s assistants also work with special education teachers and general education teachers to provide assistance and help within the classroom. 

We often take how much paraprofessionals do for our students for granted. I also realized that many paraeducators don’t make very much money. 

It is essential to make sure that we realize the role that instructional assistants have within our schools as parents and educators. 


Typical Tasks of Teacher’s Assistants

  • Providing collaborative support for students with IEPs. 
  • Making copies for the general education teachers.
  • Doing Morning and afternoon duties in the hallways, cafeteria, and outside by the buses or car rider line.
  • Serving as a general education teacher when substitutes are not available. 
  • Running remediation groups or small groups under the direction and guidance of the general education teacher and special education teacher. 

Last week, I noticed several of those bullet points from my assistant. She works hard to make sure that everyone has what they needed. 

I want to note that not all instructional assistants are like my friend Rhonda. However, many want to serve and help children to reach their potential. 


Appreciation for Our Support Staff

 I so appreciate personal care aides. Honestly, I am not sure that I could handle being an aide myself. 

I was a special education paraprofessional early in college. I was so excited and absolutely loved my job! Due to budget cuts, they told me that I would be transitioning to a personal care aide for one fifth-grader at the end of the year. 

At the time, I hadn’t been around kids much. I also didn’t know how to work with a student who was blind. The school had let go of her previous personal care aide to keep me. 

I decided that I would instead substitute while looking for something else. 

They ended up hiring back her previous personal care aide, and I couldn’t have been happier for the student. The student LOVED this paraprofessional and needed her to be successful. 


Ways to Show Appreciation to Your Paraprofessional

As you can tell, paraprofessionals do a lot for our school systems. Most work very hard to provide and serve others. 

But, they often don’t get recognized for all of the hard work within the school system. Here are a few ways that you can celebrate and encourage the aides within your life is by: 

  • Writing a thank you note
  • Sending them a little treat.
  • Calling them to say thank you!
  • Getting them a small gift
  • Having your child create a thank you note or a small gift.


What is Your Experience With Instructional Assistants?

It is vital to have help in the classroom. Not always do we get the perfect assistant though as you can read in The Incompetent Paraprofessional Who Drove Me Crazy blog post.  

Have you had an aid in your classroom? Please share your experience with us below in the comments! 

Here are a few other posts you may also want to check out:


Do you have a student that needs one-on-one special education tutoring that can be done from anywhere? Our special education experts conduct their sessions online! Get them started with a free consultation!



3 students sitting around a computer getting support from their paraprofessionals in their classroom at school.
Paraprofessionals are a vital part of both Special Education and General Classrooms. How can we appreciate them more?

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Taylor Fulcher

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