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October 2003 | Volume 61 | Number 2
Teaching All Students
Michael F. Giangreco
To make the most of paraprofessional support, teachers must change their role from gracious host to engaged teaching partner.
Relief—that is how many teachers describe their initial reaction after learning that a paraprofessional will support a student with a disability in their class. Such help is generally a welcome prospect for the overworked classroom teacher. “The paraprofessional and special educator will handle most of the planning, adapting, supervision, and instruction,” many teachers think to themselves. “All I need to do is be a gracious host.” After all, other students in the classroom have special needs of their own that require the teacher's time and attention. And students with identified disabilities—autism, developmental delays, multiple disabilities, or behavior disorders, for example—have more intensive needs associated with those disabilities.
Providing paraprofessional support for a student with a disability may seem like an obvious way to facilitate inclusion in the general education classroom. Paraprofessional support can ensure that students with disabilities receive an appropriate level of attention and prevent these students from “falling through the cracks”—both worthy aims. Apparently many school leaders agree. The number of special education paraprofessionals has increased dramatically over the past 15 years, coinciding with greater access to general education classes for students with a wider range of disabilities.
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Copyright © 2003 by Michael F. Giangreco
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