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How to Become a Student's Shadow Aide

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Shadow aides provide support and assistance to special needs students in classrooms. More typically referred to as a teacher's assistant in a special education setting, shadow aides are generally assigned to the classroom or teacher, and not a particular student. Since some special education students work with one teacher all day long, however, shadow aides can end up serving only one or two students as well as the teacher. As of 2002, with the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, there are some basic requirements that must be met to be a shadow aide.

Obtain at least two years of college education, if not an associate's degree. Take classes in special education teaching, teacher's assisting and childhood development. Coursework in communications will also help, as you may be called on to facilitate communication between parents and the teacher.

Get trained in basic first aid and CPR. Some of the children in your classroom may have health problems that require you to have to handle special medical needs.

Gain experience, either through work or volunteer experiences, in medical settings. You will want to have experience in dealing with individuals with a wide variety of medical or emotional conditions, as well as taking care of basic maintenance, such as feeding and bathing, for them as well. You may be called upon to handle tasks of this nature for your students, and you will want to be prepared.


Online schools offer associate degrees in teacher assisting, but check with your school district to see if they accept an online degree for the educational requirements before enrolling.

Ask your school district about the requirements to be a substitute teacher as a shadow aide. Some school districts use parent volunteers or other volunteers for classroom activities in elementary school, and you might qualify to help general education teachers or specialized teachers in some way.