1. Tell us about yourself?
I am a certified and experienced paraprofessional, specializing in behavioral and mood-related disorders and learning disabilities. I have mostly worked in classroom settings and have developed excellent teacher and student facilitation skills.
2. Why did you choose this profession?
My younger brother was dyslexic, and I saw him overcome his disability firsthand under the mentoring of a paraprofessional at our school. I decided then to choose the profession mainly because of its highly rewarding nature.
3. Give an example of a situation where an effort made by you led to a positive impact on a student’s life?
A couple of years back there was a 7-year-old boy referred to me by his teacher for not performing well in class. I assessed him thoroughly for all possible disorders and learning disabilities but he had none. Then I probed his personal life and learned that his parents did not get along well together and that was affecting the child’s performance in his studies. I had a meeting with the parents and suggested they should work things out and see a marriage counselor. The parents didn’t realize their behavior was affecting their son and we saw improvement in the child within weeks.
4. What do you think is the primary duty of a paraprofessional?
A paraprofessional works in close collaboration with the child’s teachers and parents and facilitates teachers in lessons implementation and classroom management. However, he/she is mainly responsible for identifying the weaknesses of students and devising instructional strategies to promote the learning process while also addressing any disruptive or inappropriate behavioral issues seen in the child.
5. What are the three critical skills every successful paraprofessional must-have?
I believe to succeed as a paraprofessional one must have a high level of persistence, compassion, and strong problem-solving skills. Above all, one must understand that in this field, your efforts take time to show, but once they do, it is gratifying.
6. Which behavioral strategies do you use to handle children with emotional problems?
I determine behavioral strategies in light of the situation, however, the ones most commonly used include reinforcement therapy, time out, role play, cognitive behavior therapy, and exposure techniques.
7. What parameters do you use to determine the most appropriate instructional strategy for each student?
The critical parameters which determine my assessment of instructional strategies are the student’s progress in learning, feedback from teachers and parents, and observation of the student’s behavioral mood and social skills.
8. How would you rate your communication skills?
I would say excellent. For a paraprofessional, communication is the key to success, since whatever strategy I devise has to be implemented in teamwork with the student’s teachers and parents. So I always make sure the student’s progress and the individualized educational plan are communicated clearly to all parties.
9. What do you do if you feel that a specific student is not benefiting from the individualized educational plan you developed?
I regularly review my devised instructional strategies and assess them against student progress. If a student is not benefiting from one of my strategies or specially designed IEPs, I modify the strategy or change it all together after taking the parents and the student’s teachers in confidence. If needed, I am never shy to consult a professional regarding the same.