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Career Story: Paraprofessional Assistant To A Special Needs Student

Paraprofessional Assistant To A Special Needs Student

Job Title: ParaEducator

Type of Company: I work for a school district in a rural community.

Education: AS, General Studies

Previous Experience: I raised three children and worked in a day care center.

Job Tasks: I assist special needs students with their everyday tasks at school.

On a typical day I get my student off the bus, follow him to the cafeteria where he picks up his breakfast and escort him to class. I make sure that he unpacks his backpack and hands in his homework. Depending on the severity of the disability, I assist him with his classwork. If we are writing, for example, I may give him two choices of what to write about and continue with the choices until we have a paragraph written. I assist him with manipulatives in math to make it easier for him to solve problems. Spelling requires repetition and we use a white board or word cards.

Reading is enjoyable for him and I let him do this whenever he has free time. Whatever the student needs to accomplish I make it bite-size and break it down into morsels he can handle. I walk with him around school for breaks and assist him in music, art and physical education. I let him be independent where he can be to build confidence and self-esteem. My student may change from year to year, therefore, I have to figure out and differentiate the way I provide assistance to the student. What works for one student may not work for another.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing what growth the student has made during the time we worked together. I love watching students progress, academically and socially. I need to see results to feel fulfilled. What I don't like about my job is that sometimes I get a student who is not able to perform in school and I am basically a caregiver. This is not a challenge for me and I never get to see any progress.

Job Tips: What I would tell someone who wants to start a career in education, as a paraprofessional or a teacher, is to keep an open mind, be optimistic and don't forget to be respectful. Treat your students like you would want to be treated. You're a role model to them and can make a difference in their life; you can turn it around. Too many times adults are negative and they get a negative result. Remain positive in your approach and your result will be positive.

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