Paraprofessionals are a vital component of any school’s teaching team. They serve as an extra set of eyes and ears for the teacher and report observations of children’s progress to the supervising teacher. When you interview to be a paraprofessional, it is important to convey your understanding that a paraprofessional is a helper in the classroom and that you enjoy working with children.
Emphasize your understanding that you are not the teacher. Instead, as a paraprofessional, you are in the classroom to carry out the teacher’s instructions and to let the teacher know if you observe anything out of the ordinary in children’s behavior or performance on class work.
State that you plan to follow each child’s individual education plan (IEP) as closely as possible to ensure their academic and personal success. Paraprofessionals are not supposed to change a child’s IEP, but instead discuss their observations with teachers and others who set a child’s IEP if they notice his behavior or performance changing for the better or worse.
Emphasize that you enjoy working with children and that you want to work closely with them as a paraprofessional to help them reach their fullest potential in the classroom.
Discuss any experience you have teaching, tutoring and working with students with disabilities and other special needs. Also include information on formal training you have had in the field of education and special education.
Provide examples from your professional and personal life of how you have used skills related to being a paraprofessional. Interviewers are better able to determine if you have what it takes to serve in high-stress special education and mainstream classrooms with students from all walks of life if you tell them a story demonstrating those skills.
Stress that you are willing to do other tasks besides work directly with students. Some paraprofessionals have clerical duties, some serve as lunch or recess monitors, and others may be given other types of tasks by teachers other or school personnel.
Emphasize your communication skills, both written and verbal and with both children and employees. If you can speak another language, mention that as well.
2016 Salary Information for Teacher Assistants
Teacher assistants earned a median annual salary of $25,410 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, teacher assistants earned a 25th percentile salary of $20,520, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $31,990, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,308,100 people were employed in the U.S. as teacher assistants.