Waller Independent School District

Revised August 2013

Table of Contents

I – Definition and Purpose3

II – Para Do’s and Don’ts4

III – Tips5

IV – Professionalism6

V- Understanding the student’s disability8

VI – Special Education Acronyms 11

Definition: A paraeducator is a person hired to assist a certified teacher in the instruction of children.

Purpose:To improve the quality of the educational program offered to exceptional children by freeing the instructor

Implement planned activities to meet the needs of a broad range of exceptional children

Duties:Assist individual students in performing activities as directed

Assist with personal care of students

Supervise children in hallway, lunchroom, playground, inclusion classroom

Reinforce learning with all students

Assist in educational demonstrations for students

Provide assistance with individualized programmed materials

Assist the teacher in observing, recording, and charting different types of data including behavior

Assist in preparation of instructional materials

Carry out instructional activities/lessons designed by the teacher

Work with the teacher to develop classroom schedules

Carry out tutoring activities designed by the teacher

Implement the behavior management plan consistent with teacher implementation/instruction

Para Educators SHOULD NOT:

  1. Be solely responsible for instruction or related services
  2. Be responsible for selecting or administering formal assessments
  3. Be solely responsible for the preparation of a lesson plan
  4. Be assigned to implement any programming without supervision and involvement from the teacher
  5. Perform any medical procedures without appropriate training and approval by a health care professional.
  6. Communicate directly with parents regarding their child’s program. Emails, phone calls and textingshould never occur between a para educator and a parent.

Information to ASK your supervising teacher

  • What will your schedule look like?
  • What special services are available to the classroom and the school in which you work?
  • When do students arrive and depart?
  • What records are you responsible for keeping?
  • What is expected of you in terms of student discipline?
  • What time is your lunch? Any other breaks during the day?
  • What is expected of you with regards to working with the students?
  • How will responsibilities be divided in the classroom?
  • How does the teacher view your relationship?


Teaching is a learned profession; it takes time to understand all of it.

Have patience and understanding with the students.

Let your teacher know you interests, hobbies and experiences

that may contribute to a special class project or center of interest.

Support the special education program verbally and actively.

Support your supervising teacher in every way possible.



There are many federal laws and state statues that protect the privacy of educational records. The main law pertaining to student records is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Information or records falling under this law must remain confidential. Significant penalties can occur from failure to comply with the privacy act. Remember that matters regarding students are private and cannot be a topic of public discussion- not in the teacher’s lounge, the grocery store, not with other paraeducators.Information can only be shared with those who directly work with the student and have a need to know something that has occurred regarding the student.

Information covered under this act includes:

Personal and family data

Evaluation and test data

Psychological, medical and anecdotal reports

Records of school achievement and progress reports

Disability information

Copies of correspondence concerning the student

Records of conferences with the parents or the student


No matter how well a program is designed, success depends on good communication between the teacher and the paraprofessional. Poor communication skills and negative statements are at the heart of most problems. The learning process is totally dependent upon the staff establishing and maintaining open, daily communication. Remember, communication includes what our body language says as well as our words.

What kind of communicator are you?

Do you…

Maintain eye contact while listening?

Maintain a forward posture when listening?

Use non-interruptive acknowledgments, such as head nodding?

Display positive facial expressions to demonstrate interest?

Avoid cutting off individuals who are speaking?

Use appropriate voice, tone, and loudness in conversations?


A positive attitude can be conveyed in many ways. For example, just smiling or saying hello can make people feel welcome. When working with students, having a sense of humor, praising their positive efforts, and using positive statements shows students that you care about them and you enjoy what you are doing. Be willing to take initiative and show responsibility to the classroom. Listen to directions when given and follow them, if something is unclear be sure to ask for clarification. Talk privately with the teacher if something happens that displeases you, don’t discuss it in front of the students or other staff.

All employees are a reflection of the district so put your best foot forward. Dress appropriately for work and bring a enthusiastic positive attitude to the classroom and the school.


Attendance and punctuality convey how seriously you take your job. Your supervising teacher and the students you work with count on you being there.

Working with Students

Become aware of the specific needs of the students, review their IEP goals and objectives. It is important to know if the student has any specific limitations or physical conditions of concern. It is very important for our students to be as independent as possible so try and let them do as much by themselves as possible. Give verbal praise and high fives for good work.

Grabbing student’s arms or hands or any physical reprimanding should NEVER occur. MANDT techniques should only be used if restraint is necessary, be sure to get properly trained if you work with a student who has a history of requiring restraint. Also, never verbally berate a student, offer corrective feedback if needed but do not allow comments to become personal or insulting to the student.

General information about Special Needs Students

Each student is an individual and the information contained within will not describe every child you work with, not all students fit into the descriptions. The best way to work with each student will be an individual decision, talk with your supervising teacher about plans for each student.


Autism is a developmental disability which affects communication and social interaction. The cause of autism is unknown, but the number of children diagnosed with it has increased significantly in the last decade.


Difficulty with social interactions (play with or relating to others)

Engage in repetitive activities (repeat the same phrase over and over)

Resistant to changes in routine

Unusual response to the environment (sensitive to light or sounds)

Varying levels of intelligence

Teaching strategy:

Highly structured and predictable classroom, student needs to be prepared for any changes in schedule, use of a visual schedule so the student can see it and know it will remain consistent.

Emotional Disturbance

A child with an emotional disturbance has difficulty learning due to an extreme behavior or mental illness. Students’ behaviors may be aggressive or depressive and anxious. The students vary in the degrees of intensity of their disorder and great detail needs to be paid to each student you work with in this category.


Inappropriate types of behaviors or feelings

May seek attention by negative behaviors


Resists or challenges authority

Difficulty making and keeping friends

Teaching strategies:

Be very consistent when dealing with behaviors – give the same consequence each time, do not allow students to get by with things one time

Understand the student may not be able to control their behavior at times

Help the student to make decisions about appropriate behavior

Start each day with a clean slate

Show respect to the student regardless of behaviors

Auditory Impairment

There is a wide range of hearing loss. Some children may only hear very loud sounds while others hear normally except for very high or very low pitch. The term deaf implies the person has significant hearing loss and relies primarily on lip reading or sign language for communication.


Language and speech delay, different voice characteristics

May be difficult to understand

Teaching strategies:

Use as many visual cues as possible

Speak clearly and at a normal pace

Face the student when talking

Get the child’s attention before speaking

Seat child close to speaker

Don’t put hands around your mouth when talking to the student

Learning Disability

Poor achievement in one or more academic areas such as reading, speaking, math or written language.


Usually average or above intellectual functioning

May fatigue quickly when doing assignments in area of disability

May become frustrated and want to quit task

Low self-esteem is common

Teaching strategies:

Allow extra time

Help student identify personal strengths to compensate for weaknesses

Implement accommodations in the classroom

Intellectual Disability

A child with significant overall delays in cognitive functioning and adaptive behavior.


Immature for age

Require support with day to day activities

Require more direct supervision to ensure safety

Teaching strategies:

Keep directions concrete

Provide many opportunities for practice of a new skill

Demonstrate things to students so they can see how it works

Allow student to be as independent as possible

Use hand-over-hand as needed

Multiple Disabilities

Students with a combination of several disabilities, severe in nature would be classified in this category (for example Deaf-Blind).


Often need assistance in daily activities or tasks

Teaching strategies:

Focus on functional skills first

Respect each students’ dignity

Learn how the student communicates

Orthopedic Impaired

A physical impairment that adversely affects the student’s educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by congenital defects (e.g., club foot, absence of some member, etc.) impairments caused by disease (poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis, etc) and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations and fractures or burns that cause contrachures).

Teaching strategies:

Remove barriers for student

Allow students to be as independent as possible

Speak to them eye to eye (if you need to kneel down do so)

Speech language

A disability in the area of articulation, fluency, voice or language that adversely affects education.

Teaching strategies:

Model good speech

Have child repeat what you say if they mispronounce

Ask them to use their words when they only point for things

Encourage student

Visual Impairment

Significant loss of vision.


May tire easily

May need assistance moving from place to place

Teaching strategies:

Hold student’s arm at the elbow to lead them and allow them to use the wall to guide them

Speak to the child and identify yourself

Use tactile symbols as needed

May need large print books, other technology or Braille

Acronyms- Commonly used in Special Education
AB – Applied Behavior
ADA - Americans with Disabilities Act
ADD - Attention Deficit Disorder
ADHD - Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
AEP - Alternative Educational Program
AI - Auditory Impairment
APE - Adapted Physical Education
ARD - Admissions, Review, and Dismissal (Committee)
ATP - Assistive Technology Program
AU - Autism
BIP - Behavior Intervention Plan
CBI - Community Based Instruction
CMC - Content Mastery Center
CP - Cerebral Palsy
DARS - Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (formerly TRC)
DB - Deaf Blind
DSM -IV Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition)
ECI - Early Childhood Intervention
ED - Emotional Disturbance
EPS - Employment Placement Specialist
ESYS - Extended School Year Services
FAPE - FreeAppropriate Public Education
FBA - Functional Behavior Assessment
FERPA - Family Education Rights and Privacy Act
FIE Full and Individual Evaluation
IA Instructional Arrangement
ID Intellectual Disability
IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
IEE Independent Educational Evaluation
IEP Individualized Education Program
LD Learning Disability
LRE Least Restrictive Environment
MD - Multiple Disabilities
NICHY - National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities
OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
ODD - Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OH - Other Health Impairment (also OHI)
OI - Orthopedic Impairment
O & M - Orientation and Mobility
OT - Occupational Therapy
PDD - Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Autism Spectrum)
PPCD - Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities
PT - Physical Therapy
REACH - Resource for Parents of Children with Autism
RDSPD - Regional Day School Program for the Deaf
RTI - Response to Intervention
SI - Speech Impairment
SLP - Speech-Language Pathologist
STAAR– State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness
STAAR-A -State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness Accommodated
STAAR-Alt – State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness Alternate
TAKS - Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills
TAKS-ACC - Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills - Accommodated
TAKS -M - Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills - Modified
TEA - Texas Education Agency
TEKS - Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills
VI - Visual Impairment

Receipt of Review

Dear Case Manager,

After you have reviewed the Paraprofessional Handbook with ALL new special education support staff, please obtain signatures and return this receipt to the Director of Special Education.

I acknowledge that I (case manager) met with ______(new Special Education Support Staff) on ______(date) and reviewed Waller’s Special Education Department’s Paraprofessional Handbook with them.


Case Manager’s signatureDate


New Special Education Support StaffDate