A Teacher’s Guide to Working With Paraprofessionals


In today’s diverse educational landscape, paraprofessionals play a crucial role in ensuring that students with disabilities receive the support and accommodations necessary for success. Paraprofessionals, often referred to as teacher aides or assistants, work closely with general and special education teachers to assist in classroom management and implementation of individualized educational plans (IEPs).

As a teacher, you may find yourself working alongside a paraprofessional in your classroom. Here’s a guide on how to create effective collaboration to benefit your students.

1. Establish Clear Expectations:

To build strong working relationships with paraprofessionals, it’s essential to establish clear expectations from the outset. Begin by holding an initial meeting to discuss roles and responsibilities. Outline the daily schedule, provide training materials, clarify communication methods, and outline any specific tasks that need attention. This will help promote efficiency and recognize the unique skills each professional brings to the table.

2. Develop Open Communication:

Open communication is critical for ensuring smooth collaboration between teachers and paraprofessionals. Foster open communication channels through regular meetings, email updates, and collaborative planning sessions. These opportunities allow both parties to share insights on student progress, suggest new ideas, and address any concerns.

3. Provide Professional Development Opportunities:

Paraprofessionals bring diverse skills and competencies to the classroom setting. To maximize their impact on student learning, provide access to ongoing professional development opportunities. Encourage paraprofessionals to attend workshops, conferences, or take additional courses relevant to their work in the classroom. A supportive learning environment empowers paraprofessionals to grow professionally while enhancing their skills.

4. Promote Collaborative Planning:

Successful implementation of IEPs requires teamwork among all stakeholders involved in a student’s education journey. Encourage collaborative planning that includes both general and special education teachers as well as paraprofessionals to ensure everyone is aligned in executing effective and engaging instruction. Joint planning sessions can help identify potential challenges, clarify responsibilities, and refine instructional strategies.

5. Foster Respect and Appreciation:

Paraprofessionals contribute immensely to creating inclusive classrooms and supporting students with diverse needs. Recognizing their efforts and contributions goes a long way in fostering a positive work environment. Regularly express your appreciation for their hard work, creativity, and dedication to students.

6. Monitor Progress and Adjust:

Collaboration between teachers and paraprofessionals is an ongoing process that requires monitoring and adjusting as needed. Continuously assess the effectiveness of your working relationship, address concerns, make adjustments when necessary, and be open to refining the partnership based on new information or changing needs.


By implementing these strategies, you can forge strong working relationships with paraprofessionals in your classroom that ultimately benefit the students you both serve. Effective collaboration between teachers and paraprofessionals provides the foundation for successful inclusive education experiences for all learners. Remember to communicate openly, appreciate their contributions, foster professional growth opportunities, and continuously refine your working relationship to promote student success.

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