Can a Para Co-Teach? Unveiling the Power of Inclusive Co-Teaching

When we talk about making our classrooms more inclusive, one big question arises: Can paraprofessionals co-teach?

Absolutely, they can!

This blog dives into how paraprofessionals, or educational assistants, can play a key role in co-teaching and really boost the learning experience for all students.

Let's rethink roles and capabilities.

There’s a common belief that only certified teachers can lead a lesson or activity. But in an inclusive setup, every adult can be more than just a helper—they can be co-teachers. As inclusive education experts, we believe it’s crucial to value what paraprofessionals add to teaching. Shifting our view like this turns the classroom into a team environment where everyone has something important to contribute.

More teachers mean smaller learning groups, which makes education more hands-on and tailored. For example, breaking a class of 30 into smaller groups means more one-on-one time, which is key for effective learning. With different educators around, there are more ways to present lessons, meeting the varied learning styles and needs of students.

Neuroscience has a neat way of putting it: “neurons that fire together, wire together.” Basically, the more engaging and fun the learning, the more students get out of it.

Co-teaching is more than just sharing a classroom; it’s about sharing the job of teaching. For paraprofessionals, this might mean helping to plan lessons, co-deliver a lesson, and tweak teaching methods based on how students respond and feedback from educators.

Good teamwork needs clear talking and solid planning.

It’s essential for lead teachers to loop in paraprofessionals when planning, set clear expectations, and keep the feedback coming. This helps make sure everyone knows their part, making the whole teaching effort more effective.

To really step into their co-teaching role, paraprofessionals need the right training and tools. This could mean learning about tech aids, brain development, and different teaching strategies. They also need to get the hang of various co-teaching formats, like managing different learning stations or adding sensory elements to lessons.

Studies confirm that classrooms with well-trained paraprofessionals see more student engagement, better learning outcomes, and teaching that hits closer to home. These results show that every educator, no matter their title, can make a big impact.

By embracing and enhancing the abilities of paraprofessionals as co-teachers, we not only boost educational results but also create a more inclusive, welcoming atmosphere in our schools.

Think about how you can help bring paraprofessionals into the teaching team at your school. Whether it's pushing for more thorough training or rethinking team roles, every move toward inclusivity leads to a better education for everyone.