Program Profile

Impact Feature Issue on Volunteerism by Persons with Developmental Disabilities

A Teacher’s View of Certification

In the past, teachers were assigned an associate/teacher’s aide. They would often not meet each other until the first day of school, there was no time to train the aide outside of the time with the children, and what was taught was inconsistent and depended on the teacher. Other professionals did not recognize the importance of the associate position, though special education teachers knew paraeducators were and still are essential in special education; teachers would not be as effective without them, and students depend on them for assistance in various ways all day long. They are the teacher’s right hand.

The certification classes now available in Iowa give basic information to paraeducators, which allows them all equal footing as they start their various positions. Learning about roles and responsibilities, confidentiality, and observational skills gives paraeducators valuable tools for working in the classroom and assists in developing a partnership between the teacher and the paraeducator. The classes result in informed assistants who understand the special education process, and why certain things must be done such as IEPs, data collection, and parent meetings.

The paraeducators who take the time to obtain certification bring themselves and their profession respect and recognition. Paraeducators are indispensable and I, as a teacher, could not do what I do without the paraeducators who work with me.

Contributed by Mary Craven, Special Education Teacher, Cedar Rapids Community School District.