Why Teacher’s Aides Deserve Our Appreciation Every Single Day

Paraprofessional, Instructional Assistant, Teacher’s Aide, Educational Assistant… these wonderful people go by many names. When we read these titles, however, we may not really understand what their jobs entail. After almost 10 years in education, though, I think I can sum up a parapro’s job description in one word: superhero.

Every day, I watch these people do amazing things. I watch them stand and greet students as they enter our gym or cafeteria, providing smiles and hugs for each one. I see them follow schedules even more complicated than mine, moving between grade levels and never missing a beat. I watch them wrestle with copy machines and spend hours cutting out laminated items. I hear them out in the hallways, working with that one child who still can’t read sight words or add two-digit numbers. I even have watched them take verbal or physical assault from the student they have been assigned to help because music class is too much. They are vital to all of the education initiatives that we’ve come to embrace over the years, like “Title,” “Response to Intervention,” “Special Education.”

We ask these amazing people to do so much, to give so much of themselves. We ask them to jump through hoops like certification testing and after-hours trainings, and we expect them to do anything and everything within the buildings in which they work. If you think that teachers are underpaid (which, let’s be real, we are), let me tell you who is really underpaid: paraprofessionals. They make a fraction of what teachers do, yet they are asked to do so much more than they are paid for.

Oftentimes, only students recognize paraprofessionals for all that they do, but everyone should understand and appreciate how important paraprofessionals are in the field of education. These amazing men and women are some of the strongest connections our students with extensive needs make within the building. If you are involved in education in any way, as a parent, an employee or even a community member who cares, try to take a moment to thank a paraprofessional. They deserve our appreciation, not just one day a year, but every day.

Featured Photo via dancergrrrl.

168 COMMENTS

    • It would have been almost impossible to teach without my Paras. Teaching cooking, recycling, gardening, sales work, etc. as well as reading, LA, math, history, geography, etc. one on one without assistants would have been impossible.,

    • spcecial ed. assistant .welcome greeting and getting kids from bus,with with out the teachers,getting and serving breakfast,cleaning /help them to open their foods.clean them and their tables?,floors after breakfast,watch their hands several times a day.do the morning routine with them ,work with them at their tables. take them out to play and supervise them .change their diapers,help other aides with wheel chairs.because they are short in staff ,during the day monitored them to bathroom ,enforcing them to not misbehave. walk them to nurse or office as need it. then take them to school cafeteria for lunch,again help them to pick up their left overs to the trash,clean their faces when outside ,then back to play ground supervision, then diapers,clothing changing .because of soil,vomit ,buggers or getting wet or too dirty outside .work with them at the table and clean up room then get them ready in orderly manner to go home.

      • Life skills is what it comes down to in all you are saying. Do the same here. high five for us!

      • yep, I know it…. but once you speak out on a teacher who allows bulling on these angels or treats them awful cause they cant talk or cant tell mom…. your’e the bad guy….. been fired and escorted out for bringing it to surface . we are just aide…. the higher up , don’t want to hear from us……..

    • and….not just that 1 student that cannot add or read sight words…..but even children like my little boy who has severe autism and a rare brain syndrome that has caused him to regress in many areas and become incontinent. His paras, lovingly and respectfully help him change clothes if he has an accident, help him in so many ways….they encourage him and take great delight in his achievements no matter how big or how small. I can tell they love him. It means the world to me! I always send gift cards in at Christmas and end of year and sporatically will bring in bouquets of flowers and sometimes chocolate. I wish I was a millionaire so I could give them more!!!! but I do what I can because they area SUPERHEROES!!!!

  1. This article – though short and simple – means a lot to me. My grandmother was a paraprofessional for 35 years, and worked specifically with special education students for the last 10 or so. After retiring, she cared for my youngest daughter while I worked. Even before my daughter was diagnosed on the spectrum, my grandma worked with her daily on the alphabet, numbers, colors, etc. My grandma even volunteered at the school when my daughter began the PPC unit.
    Tomorrow will be one month that my grandma passed from ovarian cancer.
    Thank you so much for writing this.

    • Your Grandma sounds like a real gem to have around. I’m sorry she’s gone but I bet she’s there in spirit.

  2. I do agree with the majority of this article.

    However, I would change the title from ‘Teacher’s Aide’ to ‘Student’s Aide’. As a Paraprofessional, I work for the students and to assist them academically.

    The part that states “I watch them wrestle with copy machines and spend hours cutting out laminated items.” baffles me. That is not what the majority of parapros spend time on. We are focused on assisting students.

    Just my opinion. 🙂

    • I agree, it should be what they are assigned to do. However, many school districts use them as they see appropriate for their schools need. Para-professionals are professionals in their expertise. Although some do not have a college degree, they are underpaid and under appreciated by all they come in contact with. They are truly devoted and committed to their jobs. Whatever they are assigned to do, whether it be shadow a student, individual teaching, making copies, or any other duty given to them. They are 100% the backbone to any school district. Without them teachers would have additional duties and administrative staff would have to pitch in as well. Show appreciation to these hardworking folks they deserve the love and respect we give others in the education field. Thank you Paraprofessionals everywhere!

      • Very very well said! Thank you.
        25yrs as a parapro. Did it for the love of the students and not for the paycheck. Love what I do.

      • Thank You
        13 years a parapro love working with all our students, staff, and loving the smiles I see on our students’ faces. I too love what I do

      • Thank you!! Wish my Special Education Boss had respect for all the Paraprofessionals! Love the students!❣❤️

      • Well stated. However we are required to have at least an associates degree.. most, if not all in my school have a bachelors

      • Some school use them to facilitate their own class and refuse to pay them at least half what a teacher makes.

    • I was thinking the same thing. The days of copying and cutting out laminated items are long gone. i work at an extended day school(8hrs.) and the only break we get all day is our 30 minute lunch. I also have to work summer school, to add to my income. So that leaves me with one week off at the end of the school year before summer school starts and it ends right before the school year starts all over again.

      • I do all things stated in the article and STILL laminate and fix the machines when no one else will. I think maybe rather than disputing some points of the article let’s focus on the positive and that our work is bring notice and although that’s not why we do it, it still feels nice!

      • Those days are certainly not long gone for all teachers, paras, or students. Just because YOU haven’t done them in a while doesn’t mean those tasks aren’t necessary to some students.

    • But we do these little jobs and more prepping for our children. we are a teacher and student aid we help the teacher creatively teach these children to their level and we help the child learn etc.

    • As far as copy machines and laminating…Most of us do this on our own time, either before school and/or after school. And yes, we do it willingly, because it’s another way in helping educating the students with manipulatives, props, cards, games, and whatever else is needed. These things are very important to some.

    • It’s different in different states. In my states Paraprofessionals can be assigned to teachers/classrooms or individual students. Part of the job description is to help with those things, but I never ask it. I do that stuff on my own after school. We just don’t have time to have one of us hanging out at the copier and I’m never okay with the paras in my class staying late. They don’t get paid enough for that.

    • While the majority of my day involves working with my kiddos, I’m shared between 2 kindergarten classes, I do wrestle with the copier at least once a week. If not for myself or my teachers, for another teacher in distress! So yes, I can agree 100% with that observation! Well written and appreciated!

    • Well there are many duties assigned and depending on the lead teacher, sometimes duties do involve copying class material.
      But from my experience, the para prof. Range in their quality of their jobs. Some provide a nurturing and supportive one to one, some impliment ed. Plans all day long and without them the ed. Plan doesnt get done! The professionals design the plans BUT the para professional is responsible for the days following of the ed. Plan. Also, their responsibility is to provide feedback to the professionals about why an ed plan works or doesnt work!
      And they often do this while getting physically hit, spat upon, running after kids and sometimes unappreaciated by their teachers!
      So, to finalize, they require the respect of getting trained every year, they dont and ste given kids to work with, they require better salaries, as their wages are generally low and they need to be professionally recognized at team meetins!

    • Ours do all the copies, outside and bus duty, everything most teachers have to do so teachers can focus on teaching and being in the clasroom.

    • I have been subbing this year, for the awesome paras, at my kids’ school, and they do it all. Helping teachers and students, it’s not below them at all. It is part of their job, to help the teachers just as much as it is to help the kids with pretty much anything that they may need. I love and appreciate all of them, and all that they do up there. They are the most amazing women that I have met!

      • The women ones are! But I know almost as many male paras as female ones, and it’s great for SpEd kids to have a gender balance around!

    • I’m a para and pretty much every moment I’m not with my kiddos is spent cutting and laminating…and don’t even get me started on the Velcro! But we do it because it helps our students.

      • Oh the Velcro love this article! It’s nice to be appreciated. Only 2 years now but absolutely do it for the kiddos! IMHO they are the best kids and the laughs and smiles make everything we do worth it.
        2:1 Teaching Assistant

    • Kelly, as an EA I do all the prep copies for the week as well cut laminating we have laminated of kids projects for there end of year portfolio. Clean tables daily as well along with organizing manipulatives, etc. All before or after school because once kiddos get there I help work with them. Plus also accompany them to all specials, P.E., music, etc. I love my job and the kids and work with an amazing teacher. Notice I said work with and not work for. She is awesome with the kids and is very supportive of me.

    • My para is assigned to my class–that means she does whatever it takes to make the CLASS succeed. She helps keep me sane and on top of things, and she is there for the students however they need her, or however I ask her to be. It’s both/and.

    • I have had to cut out and laminate several things in my small 3 year career as a para. Feelings cards, visual schedules, gopher bucks, feelings charts, games, visual reminders, communication keys… if you don’t have to do it, count yourself lucky, but some of us do.

  3. These people are the BACKBONE and UNSUNG HEROES of MANY classrooms in all of our local schools,it is time EVERYONE of us give them the recognition and support ( through higher pay AND appreciation ) for the job they do with some of our most vulnerable students and children !!

  4. Thanks for the kind words. I loved the job I had. I worked in Emotional Support, an loved everyone of “MY” kids.

  5. MB,
    You were always a great para. All the kids loved you. Was proud to call you my daughter. You gave so much of yourself.

  6. As an ESP in Pre -K Special Education I deserve to be a salary paid employee with paid sick days & holidays. It baffles me that not all districts are on the same page with this. I ❤️my job & have made a difference in childrens lives.

    • My school district started this school year by making us use sick days if there was a snow/bad weather day (we had four). But we still had paid holidays and summers. Next school year, they’re getting rid of all of that. 26 million dollar deficit and the powers-that-be said anyone that’s not a certified teacher doesn’t deserve any of that. It’ll be hours-worked-hours-paid. After 15+ years, they’re saying we’re not important enough. I know lots of paras, cafeteria workers, and secretaries who will be quitting because of these changes if they’re not fired first.

      • May I ask what school district you work in? They cannot just do this. This is a bargaining issue and it’s up to your Union Local and negotiating team to ensure this doesn’t happen. You need to recruit representation from National Union Reps if this is indeed happening.

      • For all we know it may not be a unionized district. It is more common than you think, especially in the South.

      • Get out of there now if you can. If enough people quit and refuse to be screwed over and not take the slave wages, then they will have to reinstate a livable wage.

      • I was a para for 3 years, making less than $10/hr and no paid holidays/summers. Our school did “e;learning” (technology based education) on snow days so there were no make-ups; if the weather was bad, kids didn’t have school and paras didn’t get paid. There was gross understaffing, and we had no union representation (the union represented teachers but not us). Had I received union representation, I might still be in the field.
        Glad to know some people do recognize all that the job entails and appreciate those who live to support the kiddos day in and day out.

  7. Our service to our students goes beyond the classroom. I know my fellow Paras will join me when I say we pray for our special needs students daily. We are at home, standing in the shower rolling ideas around in our mind that might make their learning experience easier,and the quality of their life better. While atempting to find a means of communication for them , we become their voice when they cannot communicate and their advocate when they are misunderstood. A seemingly small advancement to others is a big step forward for us. We believe in them when others do not.

    Signed,
    A Seven Year Para who loves her job

    • So true. Everything you said and more. As summer comes, I wonder about some of my kids, will they be safe, loved, cared for.

  8. For every para every teacher should be very grateful and appreciative of their efforts and the special love they give these children!!wish the paras would be paid what they should be paid as they certainly earn every penny !!

  9. I’ve been a para for over 20 yrs of students with special needs and have an adult son with autism. It is nice when someone acknowledges what we do. And some of us do cut out laminating and coping, we do toileting, blocking kicks, help w/feeding, when a student has a meltdown help protect other students and the child that is having a meltdown because the school has a change in schedule, watching kids learn a new skill like math, reading or just making their first straight line or peeing on the toilet for the first time. We do so many things I couldn’t possible list. Yes , we deserve to make more money. But what else that would be nice, if paras were eligible for FMLA ( Family leave) In Illinois we are not eligible unless we work summer school or we don’t miss more than 1 day of work. Also now Illinois is complaining that teachers and related school workers shouldn’t miss more that 10 days of work. Don’t people understand there are a lot of single parents that have no choice but to miss work if our own child is sick or the district they work for has a different spring break, holidays or start dates than the school district their child attends. We work hard, we have subs come in and say how do you do this every day. Because we love it and we love our students.

    • 10 days? In my school we get sick days that roll over. Currently being permanent for 5 years I have 35 sick days. But if we use more than 4, it goes on our review and it’s considered accessive. And we are union! Go figure. I was out for 6 days last year because of a scratched cornea (from a student) and cellulitis that I was in the hospital for. 6 days. I was piled in by the principal and told I was being watched. I live my job. Yes. But way underpaid,abused and treated like garbage by admin.

      • “But way underpaid,abused and treated like garbage by admin.” Thank you! I was hesitant to comment because of all of the cheeriness here. But your comment is spot on! It is nice to be recognized, but most times we are either not or in lip service only! I’ll stop there because this is a sore spot in my school right now. I love my job, but man it can be hard. And not becasue of the kids.

    • Who is telling you this about Illinois? Your school is responsible for this. You are hearing alot of bunk from someone.

  10. How wonderful! Being a retired assistant with 28 years experience I can certainly relate to all that has been written. My first 20 years was in S. Education and the last 8 as a First Grade Assistant. I taught with really great teachers and I taught with a few that my experience and training surpassed their teaching skills. Not only did I share everything with the teacher and lessoned her load( with some it was equal) … I also had obligations outside the classroom. I never surpassed $1200 a month in pay. It is truly a servants job .. as the pay is less than half and the recognition is rarely given. I was fortunate enough to become life long friends with my last classroom teacher. She was smart. She recognized my strengths as a teacher.. and I shared her teaching time. We were a team .. and she treated me as her equal. The students benefited greatly with top scores and happy kids. Id love to see the title changed to assistant teacher . My years teaching were the best part of my life.. Not only did I support.. teach .. and assist.. I loved each and every child.It would be nice to know that Paraprofessional were appreciated enough to increase their pay.

    • Linda that is terrible 1200 a month! Here I thought we were underpaid here in Cananda Until I saw your post!

      • As a para in South Texas I bring home $950/month. How’s that for underpaid!? I have a bachelor’s degree, and it doesn’t matter. I am paid the same as other paras without a degree. We aren’t even making a liveable wage.

      • I don’t know if that was her take home or gross, if she was full time or part time but I’m lucky to hit $900 A month for take home. They don’t give paras full time at our school. :/

      • I get 8.10 cents an hour as a para at my school. My monthly income is no greater than $700.00. Luckily I am not in a position that I need to,work, but rather that I love doing it. Some people are not so lucky.

      • I get less than 900.00 a month, but our athletics department, wow. 24k extra to be a assistant coach.

    • here in NY we do have certified teaching assistants, you have to pass a test and do professional development hours, like the teachers do.

      • In my district in NY, there is a difference between a teaching assistant and an aide, (because of their education level) although both the work and the pay is essentially the same. Those with Bachelors and even Masters degrees in education ( a TA ) get paid the same as an aide (high school education or some college). We all have to do professional development, but none of this matters as far as pay because the higher-ups will always consider us as sub-par. But we all love our jobs, and are thankful for the teachers and parents who do recognize and appreciate us.

  11. It’s nice that we are appreciated for our work with our kids. The sad thing is that we spend most of our time with outside duty, lunch room duty, and watching rooms during meetings.

  12. In the school that I work in, the Paras do not, I repeat do not wrestle with the copy machines,
    They all,know what they are doing, if there is a problem, Maddy and I are there to help.
    As for the laminating, we are the cutters, the only time we do not cut, is when the teachers say,
    I will do this. I work in a great school, our paras are the best, so are the teachers.

    • What if copies need to be made and your teacher is busy with students? You just let her/him deal with it, without helping? Great teamwork. I’m glad my para steps up to help me and help the students any way she can.

  13. I am an Educational Assistant with 19 years experience. Thank you so much for your recognition. I am told daily how much I am appreciated in my workplace and love every child that I work with. Love my job!

  14. They get a fraction of what a teacher makes salary wise but they also never went to college and expect to get the same as a teacher. Most people don’t get special recognition for doing a good job or working hard everyday I know I don’t neither do I expect recognition for a job I am suppose to do its my job!

    • There are many many paras who have went to college and for their own reasons choose to work in this job. I am one of them. I can walk out at any time and work in a radiology department at a hospital and make twice what I am making now. But my heart is with those kids. Some have more college than the teacher they are working under!

    • Where are you getting your information? I don’t know any paraprofessionals who expect to make the same wages as teachers. Also, I’m a paraprofessional who went to college, but found out later in life how much I enjoy working with special needs children.

    • Many of us have gone to college and many of us have chosen this support position as our career just as others have chosen to be teachers. Both are necessary to make the academic environment successful. When a teacher is absent, they usually find a substitute but many times it is the paras who take the reigns and keep the classroom running smoothly without financial compensation. When a para is absent, we often do not have a sub, ask a teacher how their day runs without that support…
      It is not that we feel entitled to equal pay, we just feel under paid as do many, many teachers. Parents pay for daycare yet once their children become school age, it is the educators who take over that primary care along with the academic responsibility, society does not recognize nor compensate for this. Yes, we chose this profession for the love of the students but keep in mind we have to ask to use the bathroom, we are exposed to germs/lice because parents send their sick kids to school and at the end of the day, we have spent more waking hours with these kids than their own parents. Volunteer in a school and you’ll get a better understanding and appreciation.

      • I work as a teacher assistant that has morning and afternoon classes that last about 3 1/2 hours Mon- Thurs. I work the afternoon class where the kids are 4-5yrs old, but have be five if they expect to go to Kindergarten in fall. Most do, but some parents decide to wait for them to go to Jr. kindergarten first. This is where the tough part comes in. All year long they are being assessed by the Teacher and me but when it comes to conferences; Their child (doesn’t act like that at home, something must have happened here. Parents help us out a little. Help them learn how to tie their shoes, zip their jackets and may just go over the letters in their name. This can be so helpful. The world is crazy at this times. And Parents thank you
        most for teaching love and respect to your children!!

    • Actually I am a certified teacher in two states and I am still having to work as a.paraprofessional because our education system is in the toilet and the other st a te I’m certified in I’m going against 30 ye a r veterans with what is considered no experience. Yes I wish I got paid more, I wish my coworkers earned more, but I also wish teachers earned more, not the same, as paraprofessionals.

    • I went to college for 3 years and am back in college at 52 to finish my degree. I do not expect to be paid the same as a teacher but I do expect to be paid a fair wage. A lot of the time I am doing the teacher’s job that I am not certified to do bit expected to do without qiestioning it. But no one speaks of that part of the job. Think before you speak. It would make a lot more sense if you did.

    • Hmmm. I have a teaching degree and worked a year as a para while earning my Masters and trying to get back into education after years out of the system working in the private sector.

      Don’t assume you know what qualifications people have or why they are there. Also, I know of no Para that ever expected to receive the same pay or benefits as a fully certified teacher.

    • I went to college… I have 2 master’s degrees (1 in education!). That was a very presumptuous of you to assume paraprofessionals are less educated.

    • I have a bachelors as well, with an emphasis in education. I wanted to get a degree in teaching but life got in the way. I love working in the schools, with the kids-I feel I make a difference everyday. I don’t expect to make what a teacher does-not even close-they deal with things I don’t have to. Teachers ARE underpaid, and so are we. You don’t do it for the money, you do it for the kids. I love my kids and I love and respect my teachers. Every teacher I have worked with says the could not do their job with the paras. Don’t make assumptions-you don’t know people’s situations and I don’t think you understand the heart of those who work in education.

    • I actually have a masters degree in 2 areas of education, retired after 19 years in one of those areas, chose to not have to put up with all the hell that districts make teachers go through nowadays, and decided to be a TA so that I can still be in a classroom but not have to deal with all the responsibilities of the actual teacher. That is why I don’t expect to get a teacher’s salary. It would be nice, however, to be paid a salary that is commensurate with my education AND with all the work that I do.

  15. I went to college and many,many after school hour training’s so that I can be my best at serving students needs.

  16. I have been an EA for 27 years. I need a change in many many lives many children’s lives but they also helped change my life and appreciate what they are going through. It is exciting to watch them begin to read and even more exciting to watch these kids start to fit in with other classmates.

  17. I’m a certified teacher assistant until the rules changed now I’m a Teacher Aide which I don’t like the word aide but love my job I’m highly trained and I feel when you have the title as aide people look down to you this is just my opinion not looking for feedback on that -I should of finished my education and became a teacher but after marriage and 6 kids I went a different route and now my kids are grown I’ve been working back with students love my job

  18. I was a special education teacher for many years and for personal reasons this past year left me job and went to another district and got a job as an aide. I need a down year before I left education for good. I LOVE my job as an aide.. Having previously supervised aides and then worked as one, I have such a better understanding of what and how the position can be better. As the article said they are so underrated and I agree with that – they need time within their days just like teachers to sit and breath. Many of us have just a 25 minute lunch break and then rest of the time with students. We need even additional 15 minutes of time during the day to breath and think. I am still re-evaluating what I want to do next year but unfortunately the money I make as an aide is not sufficient for my family or I would remain in the wonderful field.

  19. About education, after 15 years of working in my chosen profession ( asthistition, cosmetologist)I was blessed with a son on the spectrum who needed more time with me. So I went back to school to become an educator of my craft. After working very hard 8 hours a day working and 4 hours in school,I got my degree with almost perfect marks and started teaching! I was then informed that I would make better money if I was duly licensed as a barber and barber educator. I worked hard to get both. Then I got a job in the public school system as a high school cosmetology educator. That was fantastic! It took 7 years of applying to get in. After the first year, the principal decided that he wanted health sciences and criminal justice so he closed the cosmetology program to accommodate the new program.So I worked at 3 different private schools that kept closing programs(5 in 3 years) I went back to a shop and substitute teaching. I ended up in a satilite program in in an inner city middle school. My whole life and career had been preparing me for this class. I immediately felt at home. The former TA had left mid year and I was offered the position. I finally found where I was supposed to be. The beginning of this year we got a different educator and she is fantastic! From day one she told the students that we were co teachers . She has been wonderful and supportive of me and I do anything asked of me because even with two of us it’s hard to get everything done. We have a great administration who is always appreciative of what we do any always there quickly when we need assistance!!! I make 1/3 of what I was making but if I could go back, I wouldn’t give up what I have now. I love my kiddos and enjoy seeing them grow up and mature. And I like knowing I help them learn to make better choices. I work 10 hours a day because I am also a bus aide. My son is in his 1 st year of college. He wants to be a traveling nurse anesthetist and he speaks 5 languages fluently GOD is good!

  20. This is a great article. However the college portion is incorrect. 90% of our para’s hold degrees. I myself have a masters. Most para’s don’t take the job for pay (because honestly, who can even pay mortgage or rent with this pay) we take the job because we are the parents that love our school and are their volunteering so much we end up getting hired. At least at my school.

  21. They forgot cafeteria aide. This is my 5th year & I tell you I make small change for a salary but I do so many things that parents may never realize. I sit & talk w/students eating alone or who are upset. I give hugs when they miss their Moms & Dads. I supply band-aides & listening to long and winding stories. I am a friend when they have no one. I cut their food, open their drinks, and smile. I clean up the tables, sure, but often I am the one they go to when they are sad or angry. They talk, I listen. I am a therapist without a degree. I break up fights on the playground. I have had students be rude to me, talk down to me because I am just the “lunch lady” and therefor should just do my job and clean up. I have been verbally abused by students, threatened and harassed. I am disrespected by middle school students who think they don’t have to listen to me. I get paid pennies. I do many more jobs than I actually get credit for. And usually no one acknowledges it. But, I know it.

    • I know exactly what you mean. I am a lunch/school aide in my local district. We are treated like the dirt under peoples feet. Most of the teachers realize how hard we work and understand the frustration we often feel. Administration, many of the children and parents look at us as nothings. Is it frustrating, of course! But when a student sees me in the hallway and rushes over for a hug or just tells me “I love You because you always help me” that helps to keep me at my job. I sometimes think of leaving my position and then i think about how much I would miss the kids and I stay. Administration and parents need to realize that we, lunch/school aides deserve respect just as much as a teacher, para, or principal. by the way, I have 2 degrees…a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and an Associate in Elementary Education. I also have a position as a Lead Teacher for a before/after school program and plan stem/craft/cooking/gym/ and many other activities for over 80 children each day.

  22. Wow, this really hits home. Thank you, I feel pretty appreciated where I work, but I know others who do not have that blessing.

  23. I was a special needs para in an elementary school. I loved my kids and school, I miss my kids so much….but I couldn’t afford to work there and eat….back to the medical field

  24. November get out and VOTE those who have become a nightmare for the common people.
    You know very well who they are.
    VOTE THEM OUT .

  25. You don’t take this job for the money. I was offered my first job at my daughter’s school and fell in love with it. It was rewarding and allowed me to be home when my kids were out of school. Financially it might not be doable but if you can live with less pay and lower benefits it’s challenging, never dull, fantastic coworkers and so rewarding. I am grateful that my family supported my job choice that gave me such satisfaction.

  26. I worked as a special ed teacher aide for 25 years in 2 different states-first in NJ and then in NYS. I retired a few years ago and my husband and I moved south. About a month ago my phone rang and imagine my surprise to have it be one of the students I worked in the classroom with in NJ. She was 7 years old when I moved to NYS! She apologized and said she hoped I did not mind that she searched me out because she had been thinking about me and wondered how I was. She also shared that she was completing college in May with a teaching degree to be a special ed teacher. She said it was her goal to make all her “teachers” proud! Even writing this in words gets me emotional. I met such amazing children in my years in the schools and learned from each one of them. I have kept in touch with many of them or their parents. All of them hold a spot in my heart forever. Aside from having my children and raising them it was such a rewarding career for me. I was blessed to have worked with teachers that treated me as a valued equal and I still consider them my school family. No, I was not able to retire rich but my memories are worth a fortune. It is for sure the hardest job you will ever love!

  27. Thank you! I have been a para for 26 years. I have seen our role change over the years. We work 7 1/2 hours a day as required but most of us work over that without any extra pay. We love what we do, working with our most precious children. It certainly isn’t for the money. I love what I do! I love my kids!

    • My Daughter Sherrie Patrick works there ,But to her it is not just a job ,to her it is helping anyone she can she gives her all to these children, she shows them love and understanding ,she lets them know she loves and cares about their present and future, that they can achieve the things they thought were out of their reach she is so proud of each move they make forward how ever some may think are small Sherrie thinks it is a giant step.she cried when she showed me her thank you hand made cards from some of her kids ,that’s right, I said her kids .,.that is exactly how she feels I am proud to call her

  28. This post really touched my heart!
    I agree Paras are superheros; overworked and underpaid. My mom has been a Para (working with special needs students) for many years. She has also raised 8 Kids of her own and is soon to retire next year 2019 at 70 years old. Even with being overworked and underpaid she still has an awarding winning attitude.
    She has such a bond with her student/s and she love what she does; sometimes working with them from middle school all the way thru graduation.

    Sharon J

  29. Thank you….I’ve been a para-educator/aide/assistant….for almost 20 yrs. I love my job! I appreciate the support from the teachers I work with. Wish I could take care of my family, on my paycheck, though.

  30. Well written however I take exception to the term “Paraprofessional”These are very real and professional people -no para about it. They deserve much more credit and money for all they do.

  31. 33+ years as a para in special Ed, retired and came back as a perdiem to same school, loving what I do, they wanted me back. My children and staff needed me and I needed them, I love what I do.

  32. This is a nice article and much needed. I worked as a one on one Para , with a child in a chair from her first grade year ,until her 10th grade year , when I hurt my shoulder. The one on one, never gets a break, often not even lunch. I feed my student and then ate my own lunch. I changed diapers, sanitary napkins, held her on the toilet, carried her up steps before the school got an elevator for us. I took her outside to recess. Scribed for her. Took her out of her chair and did PE with her. Made sure she was adjusted comfortably in her chair. gave her drinks throughout the day.Streched her , and worked on her academics with her. I love her like my own child. I am now retired but we are still very close like family. Her parents and I are also close. After my accident I worked as a district para and dealt with all the kids with behavioral problems. I care for those boys , and want to see them succeed. My job was easier physically, but I missed my girl ! I think I was cut out for the nuturing one on one , even though in was much more demanding! So yes we do it for the kids. I retired making $910.00 a month!

  33. I worked in the corporate world for many years but once I had children and decided to go back into the work force I went back as a Paraprofessional. I, along with many other Paras, do the following on a daily basis: Bus duty, copies, one on one, shadowing, security, monitorial duties, front desk, teacher aide, playground etc. I could be in several classrooms during the week with all different teachers who expect all different things yet make about 8 percent of what they make. I get talked back to on a daily basis and have been screamed . Parents think we do nothing and are uneducated dirt on the bottom of their shoes. Residents don’t want to pay our paychecks in their taxes. I am an educated person, well traveled and financially responsible. Happily married and have wonderful children on the honor roll. I love what I do I just wish that other people would realize how hard we work all day sometimes without sitting for several hours in a row.

  34. Thank you so much for this amazing article! Next September is going to be my 27 years with the LAUSD. I love my job and that’s why I don’t care that the some teachers, administrators, nor the LAUSD have never been able to send us a thank you card or a note.
    Thank you for acknowledging us and our work,

  35. This should also include those of us that are Aide Specific One on Ones. Those of us that work with one child specifically and move yr to yr with them. Those of us that work with the children that are harder to handle, non verbal, Autistic, Mentally or Physically disabled, Behavior Issues. We as well suffer through endless days of some kind of hitting, pinching, head butting, biting…etc etc. Yet each day we come back because we love these children and we want to help them to reach the potential that we know they have in them whatever it might be. We form bonds with these children so they learn to trust us and they know they can depend on us, we learn to understand their every point, grunt, giggle, smile, scream. Just as they learn to understand our every look. I love my job, Its very rewarding to see how far my student has come. And it warms my heart to know how far he will go.

  36. After 35 years as a teacher assistant with Special School Dist. Of St. Louis County MO, I truly appreciate your accurate depiction of what I may have meant to my kiddos and teachers. Read this to my hubby so he might know me even better…Would love to do it all over again! Again thanks so much for so accurately depicting a TA life.

  37. I am currently a study hall supervisor at our local public high school and I range anywhere between 20-60 kids an hour. I help with homework, take attendance, do fire drills, tornado drills, you name it, I do it. I not only have the “general education” kids, I also have the behavioral students, and the special education kids all mixed in together, mind you, when they are in “class” they are in their individual rooms and have less than 20 in behavior and special education, and have at least one teacher and one para per couple students, most have one on one paras. I make the same amount of money that the one on one paras do, yet I do just as much sometimes more than any teacher there. I CAN’T THANK YOU ENOUGH for writing this, you said it so well. Teachers do work very hard and do deserve more money, but I think paras are very over looked and do not receive enough recognition for what we do. Just reading this made my day! For just one person to recognize it goes a long way. I LOVE my job and love the kids that’s why I do what I do, what we all do, we aren’t in it for the money, but it would be nice for teachers AND paras to make a decent living.

    • Just a clarification. I taught Science in a middle school. While students may be “sorted out” for Math & Language Arts classes, they were NOT for Science. Every regular education student, every behavioral student and every special ed student attended my classes at the same time. 25-30 students. I’d have one Instructional Aide, just one, and if there was a crisis of some sort (when wasn’t there, given the mix of kids?) she was then unavailable to me. Your job is hard, so was mine. I did everything you do, plus I had to teach them the curriculum. My job was on the line if they didn’t perform.

  38. As a superhero it is more than likely we’re energized for a reason and that’s God above when it comes to admin staff members and other adults that were going to school we have to kind of let that go it’s hard but we do we are there for the kids

  39. i worked 20 yrs as a para and most teachers years ago were supportive and we were a team.it seems that some,not all, newer younger teachers i worked with were not willing to be a solid team. i have also been in the classroom where there were 2 of us paras. i had a few years where the other one didnt help with lifting,changing,etc.when the job was supposed to be equally shared. the special needs students suffer the most.

  40. They need more than the recognition. They truly need a livable wage…the district is getting them way too cheap. Somebody needs to start a mutiny. Teachers too we cant afford to live in Austin anymore….but TA’s are WAY overdue for a DECENT wage.

  41. The comments are proof that paras are loved and very neglected at the same time. Sad really. I’m a para. 24 years. Love what I do!!! But so underpaid and not treated fairly at all. It is what it is, when I have a bad day I remember why I do what I do. The beautiful kids! I’m good!

  42. Mrs rash you are the best thing that ever happened with my Zack. You ga e him more love then we could ever ask for you were another nana to him and I don’t know what we would have done without you and Sheila. Yes there needs to be a assistant appreciation day for you guys.

  43. I’ve been a classroom parapro for 5 years now. Being an hourly employee, I have to fill out my time card where I am supposed to write the “details” of the job I did (I usually just write “Kindergarten assistant”). I’ve often considered writing out the long list of hats I wear throughout my day, but there isn’t enough room in the box! (Plus, I don’t think the payroll lady would be as entertained by it as I would be…) 😉

  44. Great article. Thanks for sharing. I have been an educational assistant in Canada for the past 30 years. I love my job, but we are human and deserve the respect from administrators and method & resource teachers. I hate the fact that we do not get paid during Christmas break, spring break & summer. It puts a stress on the family budget.

  45. I have a masters degree in a field which the job market is nil here. College Admin/Student Personnel and spent a decade as an academic advisor, but I took a short leave and was not able to be rehired in my field.

    I graduated debt free and at this point in my life (now 40) refuse to take on debt by getting another masters for a maybe hire and have to owe money better served by contributing to retirement. I supplement my incomeas a personal trainer and pt with a non profit.

    Thus, I became a certified para (NYS). I agree on the false assumptions people make. They don’t always know what we bring to the table.

  46. Forget “appreciation.” Appreciation doesn’t pay the rent. How about paying a living wage, then going from there?

  47. I have been a para for over 20 years and I would be lying if I said I didn’t care what my pay check was, but at the end of the day I really don’t think about what I am getting paid I think about how I can make the next day better for the student that I work with. I work through my lunch, my breaks and sometimes (more often then not) I take things home and work on them know I am not getting paid to do this. My payment, my reward it the satisfaction that I helped a child feel that they can make a difference, they can succeed and that they will be someone someday that Is what I am so proud of knowing I had a hand in making that happen. That is why I do what I do without the extra pay, though the extra money wouldn’t hurt. Some days I do think why am I still doing this and then I walk though the doors at school and get greeted by the one thing that pulls me out of bed. The knowledge that I am helping a student succeed today and help them feel proud of what they did for the day and walk out of the school with a smile on their faces. That is why I do my job.

  48. Thank you for this article! I’ve been an Instructional Aide in Special Education for 15 years, mostly in middle school. I love my job and I am very proud of what I do for my students on a daily basis!

  49. Thank you!!! We should be paid more,but that has nothing to do with our love for the children we are Teacher Assistance

  50. I am a para in a functional academics classroom. My goal, each day is to assist the teacher with whatever is needed. i can transcribe braille, communicate with sign language, and re-direct m students. I an trained on gastro pumps, bolos feed, cathing, gluco monitoring, AED machine, if i dont know how to meet a need, my district provides someone to train me. I want my students to succeed in life, i know they can. I want them all treated equally. I advocate for them. i love them. Always

  51. I work for a school division that as a substitute EA, you never get raises because subs are not part of the collective agreement. subs work equal the
    amount a regular or term employee works
    Not fair, especially as a single parent.

  52. After 37 years at school, I was a teachers aide, lunch room aide, outdoor aide, office aide, took over classes when teacher had a meeting, helped in library, took study hall with 50 or so 7-8 graders at end of day, did bus duty, cutting and running off materials they needed for the day, and starting pay was 2.50 hr. ended with about 10.00. Did anyone care if they threw chocolate milk cartons at me, kicked me etc. I had a stroke and quit. Girls I worked with were wonderful and helped a lot. Principals just wanted you to do more.

  53. I have to say, thank you for posting this. I too am a Teachers Aide and everything written here is what we do and more. It’s nice when people appreciate what we do but there are some teachers and vice principals & principals that don’t even as much as mention our names or even Thank us in our school end assemblies and that really hurts when you know you gave your heart and soul to the children you were assigned to the whole year BUT I take comfort in knowing that the children have gained a lot by my help and its so great to see the smiles on their faces at their Aides.

  54. Under our Union contract we are to have two duty fee 10 min. breaks a day. This has never happen. E.A. are to get extra pay if the classroom teacher is gone from the classroom for 30 min. or more. Again not happening. Our district does not abide by the our Union.

  55. I speak from experience, many teacher aides are dealing with teachers who don’t know how to differentiate, don’t take time to notice all the aide does, and they are the first to get thrown under the bus when a student struggles. Some teachers look at aides as if they the student. If the kid didn’t do his homework, the aide gets the evil eye. It’s unreal.

  56. Paras in my area are not allowed to work off the clock. We get a 30 minute lunch break (unpaid). We do all of the above. We are not union, and parents know we are there, but we never get a gift card or thank you from the parents, but then they give the teacher a hundred dollar gift card at Christmas and the end of the year. We start at min wage. Many don’t realize that some paras are actually degreed teachers, working as a para to get their foot in the door of the school district.

  57. When I first started teaching in 1976 (Yikes!) there was really no need for an Instructional Aide in the classroom. The hundreds (literally) of tasks these aides perform today for students were not necessary. The students requiring this type of attention were being instructed in small, very structured, separate environments. Times change (for the better!) and the least-restrictive environment became the law. No more separate environments. There is absolutely NO WAY the single classroom teacher can effectively educate all the children in the room without assistance. I was blessed with wonderful, dedicated Instructional Aides. Without them, my job would have been impossible. I made sure to treat them like GOLD!!

  58. They never get much credit, but keep the classroom running smoothly! I think they need to get paid double or more what they get paid! They do so much for almost no money!

  59. I teach six small groups of sped children, do a small social group once a week, other days check in with the children we serve in their classrooms, shadow children at recess, greet the kids off the bus every morning to check in and make sure their morning is starting out right and do clerical work for the sped teacher – paraprofessionals (new tag is co teacher) do SO MUCH for SO little in pay but I will tell you that it is one of the most fulfilling jobs that there is-

  60. I love taking care of these special ed kids. They appreciate all that you do for them. The teachers are great and go out of their way to get their assignments done. We are all here to help that’s why we signed up for this assignment. Whether one on one or classroom aide. I look forward to seeing these special students every day. They appreciate everything I do for them. God bless them sll❤️

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