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A Guide to Co-Teaching With Paraeducators

A Guide to Co-Teaching With Paraeducators
Practical Tips for K-12 Educators

August 2008 | 144 pages | Corwin
To meet the demands of today's rigorous standards in inclusive classrooms, teachers are increasingly relying on paraeducators' assistance. This comprehensive guide highlights the benefits and challenges of collaborating with classroom assistants so that students with special needs have access to a highly qualified curriculum in the general education classroom and the individualized attention that promotes learning for all students.

Masterfully woven throughout the book are accounts of three paraeducators whose experiences, challenges, and rewards illustrate the unique roles and responsibilities that paraprofessionals carry out in K–12 classrooms. These vignettes demonstrate how educators and paraeducators can effectively collaborate in a climate of high-stakes testing, accountability, NCLB, and the reauthorization of IDEA 2004.

List of Tables and Figures
About the Authors
1. Why Paraeducators? What Experience, History, Law, and Research Say!

What Are Paraeducators?

When Did Paraeducators First Become a Part of the American Classroom?

Meet Paraeducators: Ms. O. and Ms. Begay

What Does the Research Say About Paraeducators?

What Are the Current Legislative Mandates Regarding Paraeducators?

What Are the Potential Legal Challenges?

2. Meet the Teams

Meet Ms. Hernandez: The Elementary School Paraeducator and Her Team

Meet Ms. Bartolo: The Middle School Paraeducator and Her Team

Meet Mr. Anderson: The Secondary School Paraeducator and His Team

3. Refining Roles and Responsibilities of Paraeducators

What Are the Variety of Roles and Responsibilities That Paraeducators Take On When They Work in Inclusive Classrooms?

What Are the Different Roles and Responsibilities for Others, Such as Classroom Teachers, When They Work With Paraeducators in Inclusive Classrooms?

What Is the Paraeducator's Role in the Instructional Cycle?

Gathering Information About Student Characteristics

Addressing Mismatches Between Student Characteristics and Classroom Demands

Ms. Hernandez: Elementary Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities

Ms. Bartolo: Middle School Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities

Mr. Anderson: Secondary School Paraeducator Roles and Responsibilities


4. Collaborative Processes: Tips and Strategies

Why Is the Collaborative Planning Process So Important?

What Are the Strategies to Make Planning Processes More Efficient?

What Are the Tips for Developing Interpersonal Relationships Among Team Members?

How Are Effective Planning Teams Assessed?

Ms. Hernandez: Elementary Collaborative Planning Scenario

Ms. Bartolo: Middle Level Collaborative Planning Scenario

Mr. Anderson: Secondary School Collaborative Planning Scenario

5. Co-Teaching and Collaborative Approaches

Who Can Be Co-Teachers?

What Are the Four Approaches to Co-Teaching That Paraeducators Are Most Likely to Experience When They Help Students in the General Education Classroom?

Supportive Co-Teachers

Parallel Co-Teachers

Complementary Co-Teachers

Team Teachers

How Can Paraeducators Be Co-Teachers?

In What Ways Does a Co-Teaching Lesson Plan Format Help to Guide Instruction?

Ms. Hernandez: Elementary Team Co-Teaching and Collaborative Approaches

Supportive, Parallel, and Complementary Co-Teaching in Second-Grade Homeroom Language Arts Time

Supportive, Parallel, and Complementary Co-Teaching in Third-Grade Homeroom Math Time

Ms. Bartolo: Middle School Co-Teaching and Collaborative Planning

Supportive, Parallel, and Complementary Co-Teaching in English Classes

Supportive and Complementary Co-Teaching in Science Class

Parallel Co-Teaching in the Learning Center

Mr. Anderson: Secondary Team Co-Teaching and Collaborative Planning

Adjusting Co-Teaching to Support Student Needs

Supportive and Parallel Co-Teaching in Social Studies


6. Systems Supports for Paraeducators' Success: Professional Development, Supervision, and Logistical Supports

What Professional Development Do Paraeducators Need and What Are the Skills Required for Paraeducators?

What Are the Approaches to Professional Development for Paraeducators?

What the Law Requires

What a Job Analysis Suggests

What Standards of Professional Organizations Suggest

What Should Paraeducators Expect From Teachers in Terms of Supervision and Coaching?

On-the-Job Training

Formal Professional Development

What Are Dimensions of Effective Supervision for Paraeducators?

What Supervision Is and Is Not

Melding Supervision and Professional Development: A Cyclical Model

What Are Logistical Supports? What Logistical Supports Help Paraeducators to Be Welcomed and Supported in Their Jobs?

Ms. Hernandez: Elementary Example of Professionl Development, Supervision, and Logistical Support

Ms. Bartolo: Middle School Paraeducator Example of Professional Development, Supervision, and Logistical Support

Mr. Anderson: Secondary School Paraeducator Example of Professional Development, Supervision, and Logistical Support

Summary and Your Next Steps

7. Paraeducator: Collaborative Members of Inclusive Teams

Advice From Paraeducators in Co-Taught Classrooms

What Opinions and Advice Do Paraeducators Offer?

Ms. Sheila's Experience

Ms. Andrea's Experience

A National Study of Paraeducators in Inclusive Classrooms

Common Issues of Paraeducators in Inclusive Classrooms

Roles of Paraeducators in Inclusive Classrooms

Advice Paraeducators Offer

Advice From Paraeducator Scenarios

Ms. Hernandez: Elementary Scenario

Ms. Bartolo: Middle School Scenario

Mr. Anderson: Secondary School Scenario


A: Co-Teaching Roles and Responsibilities Matrix

B: Gathering Information About Learners and Classroom Demands Template

C: Checklist of Supplementary Supports, Aids, and Services

D: Likes & Dislikes Team Summary

E: Planning Meeting Agenda

F: Are We Really a Collaborative Team?


H: Lesson Plan Template

I: Professional Development Opportunities and Informative Web Sites


"This book provides a valuable resource for the best utilization of paraeducators in the classroom, with tips and tools for making this a successful process.”

Melissa Miller, Science Teacher
Lynch Middle School, Farmington, AR

“I have never seen another book that treats this topic with such depth in such an accessible manner.”

Charlotte Kenney, Math and Science Teacher
Browns River Middle School, Jericho, VT

“Easy to read and understand, this book contains many examples, resources, and up-to-date information pertinent to the role of paraeducators.”

Mari Gates, Special Education Co-Teacher
Henry B. Burkland Intermediate School, Middleboro, MA

The book was exactly what we needed for the class. Very impressed.

Mrs Nonnie Wrenn
Early Childhood Education, Haywood Community College
March 23, 2010
Key features
  • Reproducible forms for teachers that can be used for establishing roles in the classroom and assisting educators in the co-teaching process
  • A glossary of terms emphasizing important jargon used in working with paraprofessionals.
  • Chapter questions, serving as  opening chapter objectives, provides answers and important information related to working with paraeducators in inclusive classroom environments.
  • Featuring 3 paraprofessionals-an elementary, a middle and a high school paraeducator-highlighting in detail the roles and responsibilities working in different classrooms and collaborating with different educators
  • A concept map visually organizes each chapter so the reader can follow along with the chapter's content.
  • Chapter summaries are included at the end of every chapter.
  • Many K-12 examples are provided giving clear direction on how paraeducators can impact student achievement.       
  • Sample Materials & Chapters


    Chapter 1: Why Paraeducators?

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