As you read this, I want you to think about this driving question: If doctors have nursing assistants, should every teacher have a teacher assistant?
My students describe their teaching experience with me the best. Every student benefits from a dynamic duo in the classroom through a primary teacher (Batman) and a secondary teacher (Robin).
Every teacher enters the field differently. I started off as a paraeducator better known as a paraprofessional, para, teacher assistant (TA), or instructional assistant (IA). Some schools even call the position an associate or inclusion/co-tTeacher. Regardless of the title, the role this educator plays is massive in the classroom.
My students actually feel more comfortable having the support of two teachers in the classroom. I believe school districts should be more invested in funding teaching positions such as paraeducators.
“I never knew the importance of having a co-teacher in the classroom. I was always made to feel “slower” than other students because I had support from the other teacher in the classroom!” stated Dayeshia Lewis, one of my former students who is now in high school.
Dayeshia highlights such a critical experience of many middle and high school students which often leads them to shun educational accommodations and services they really needed. As a special education teacher, I can proclaim that special education is too often given a bad wrap in education.
How we change the “stigma” around supporting exceptional learners is key to helping every child succeed.
“Everyone wants to be in the classes I take because Mr. Allen is a fun teacher. I never really cared about having more than one teacher in a class because it helps me a lot!” states X. Simpson, current student at 7 Pillars.
Paraeducators are the unsung heroes in our public schools. They are too often overlooked but their worth is massive no matter if they are helping special education students, the entire class, or just one student. Teachers need support and can’t do it alone. It is definitely a position that helps teachers meet the needs of all the students we serve.
Subscribe to The Educators Voice here (insert website link) and check out more of this conversation on April 5th at 6:00 p.m. for the third episode of Speak Black Man podcast where another gent from Profound Gentlemen joins this month’s convo on partnerships.
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