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What Do I Need to Become a School Paraprofessional?

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A school paraprofessional supports the teacher in instruction. School paraprofessionals may stay with one teacher or float from teacher to teacher. They help the school operate in the most efficient and effective way, and are essential to the school environment. There are specific qualifications these individuals must possess to get the job done.

Educational Qualifications

A school paraprofessional must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Also, under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act established in 2002, candidates who want to be considered for a paraprofessional position must complete two years of college (48 hours), earn an associate's degree, or pass a formal paraprofessional written test consisting of reading, writing and math assessments. As of March 2010, the No Child Left Behind act is up for review, so these requirements could change.

Instructional Qualifications

Paraprofessionals are educators who must exhibit the ability to tutor students one-on-one or in a small-group setting. Paraprofessionals are able to co-teach in a designated subject area and act as a tag-team support teacher with the classroom teacher. They assist students during classroom instructional activities and help the teacher keep students on task. Paraprofessionals may ask students leading questions to help them draw conclusions to solve educational situations or problems. They may help during testing season by taking charge of a selected group of students or monitoring the testing area.

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Teamwork and Support Qualifications

Paraprofessionals work directly under the classroom teacher and take specific direction and counsel from the teacher. The paraprofessional is part of a schoolwide team and works to benefit the school and students as a whole. She is flexible and may work with different teachers during the school day, week or year. She may also monitor the class during library time, computer lab or lunchtime. Bilingual paraprofessionals act as translators for parents and teachers.

She performs clerical duties related to grading, recording assignments, attendance and scheduling parent conferences.

Interpersonal Qualifications

Paraprofessionals must act in a professional and pleasant manner toward everyone they work with and perform duties for. They should be able to handle problems while remaining courteous and respectful at all times.

Communication Qualifications

Verbal and written communication skills are very important to the paraprofessional, who must show proper attention to oral and written instructions and help make the school environment conducive to learning.

Salary for Qualified Paraprofessionals

Salary.com says paraprofessional salaries range from the entry-level rate of $18,100 annually to $26,000 annually for those with experience.

About the Author

Bianca Bumpres resides in Dallas, Texas with her family. She has written for online internet blogs and writes a weekly single parent column for the Dallas area. Bumpres enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her extracurricular activities include enjoying music, reading and weekly volunteer ministry work.

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