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WHO ARE SCHOOL PARAPROFESSIONALS?

   
  The term "school paraprofessional" has been used to describe a number of different roles within the school system.  It applies to teacher aides, who help a variety of students in the classroom but not those with specific, special disabilities; and teacher assistants, who are employed to provide assistance to a child or children with a specific disability.  In this category we find interpreters for hearing impaired children, the field with which I am most familiar.
   
  The role of paraprofessional is relatively new within school systems and only recently have training courses been specifically designed for individuals to do this job.  Many, like myself, found themselves learning along with the job.  Some as I, had teacher training and were a big bonus for school division boards as they could use the knowledge and experience of the paraprofessional without paying a great deal for it.
   
  The paraprofessional is often viewed by the teaching staff as an encumbrance and many teachers are slow to realize the usefulness of this resource and to allow this person to fulfill their role to the fullest. Teaching is a career where one does not expect to have to share his/her classroom with another adult.  It is difficult for some teachers to accept this.  Many feel that they are being assessed by someone else and are not in full control of their classroom.  Universities and colleges, unfortunately, do not prepare teachers or administrators to work with paraprofessionals and indeed, often  do not prepare them to work with children who have disabilities. This frequently leaves the teacher in a position where she has less knowledge about working with the specific disability than the teacher assistant.
   
  When the paraprofessional comes to the classroom, there are generally many obstacles to overcome and often he/she is made to feel unwelcome and inferior.   It is so important that the administrators, teachers, paraprofessionals and others who are working with a certain child work together as a team and acknowledge the experience and thinking that each team member brings to the team.

Learning Disabilities OnLine has some great resource material on special needs students.

Deaf Resource Library is an excellent source of links for all interested in deaf issues.  I welcome communication especially from those who are also interpreters within the school system and from hearing impaired students who have been mainstreamed. 

Deaf Linx great source on hearing loss with a wealth of information on hearing aids.

Career Resources for Americans with Disabilities - American Resources to assist people with disabilities in their search for jobs

Causes of Hearing Loss in Children - Information on Otitis Media, Congenital and Aquired causes of Hearing Loss

If you know of any good sites, please let me know.

 

 

 

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