Maximising the contribution of paraprofessionals in schools: A win-win-win story
Common Ground Publishing
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Education / Fogarty Learning Centre
Paraprofessionals are used in a variety of ways in schools, but in many cases their contribution is limited to resource management or helping a struggling student "finish something off" in a small group or individual session. This paper will report on a project in which a university mentor worked with four paraprofessionals to support small groups of junior primary students who were struggling with basic literacy acquisition. They were taught to use "scripts" to move through carefully sequenced lessons, and to monitor student progress on a daily basis. The students made significant progress throughout the year, but the personal and professional stories of the paraprofessionals surprised all involved. This paper will focus on their stories as they grew in both skills and confidence. There was also wide recognition of their important contribution to the school by the staff and principal. Recommendations to maximise the input of these important members of the school community conclude the paper.