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The Paraprofessional's Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms

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The Paraprofessional's Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms Cover image courtesy of Brookes Publishing

The Bottom Line

By Julie Causton-Theoharis; 128 pages. From the back cover: "What does a great paraprofessional need to know and do? Find out in this handy survival guide."

Ever wonder what a paraprofessional does to support your child's special education? Too often, paraprofessionals are left wondering that, too, as they're thrown into trying situations without adequate training or guidance. The Paraprofessional's Handbook seeks to fill that gap with suggestions for working with both the kids and the adults in the classroom. It's worthwhile reading for parents, too.

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Pros

  • Offers an upbeat and practical look at school inclusion
  • Gives some job training to paraprofessionals who too often don't get it at school
  • Promotes the formation of friendship and social skills
  • Includes a good primer on positive behavior support
  • Worth reading for parents who want to understand what goes on in the classroom

Cons

  • Paras need administrators and teachers to be on the same page for this to work
  • Parents will have a hard time confirming that techniques like these are being used
  • Inclusion may still not be the best choice for every individual student

Description

  • Chapter 1: The Paraprofessional
  • Chapter 2: Special Education
  • Chapter 3: Inclusive Education
  • Chapter 4: Collaborating With Others: Working Within a Team
  • Chapter 5: Rethinking Students: Presuming Competence
  • Chapter 6: Providing Social Supports: Standing Back
  • Chapter 7: Providing Academic Supports
    Appendix: Useful Web Sites and Resources for Assistive Technology
  • Chapter 8: Providing Behavioral Supports
  • Chapter 9: Supporting You Supporting Them: Self-Care
    Appendix: Resources for Paraprofessionals

Guide Review - The Paraprofessional's Handbook for Effective Support in Inclusive Classrooms

I've been somewhat of a skeptic about inclusion, but every now and then I come upon a book that makes me smack my head and say, "Oh, I get it! That's how you do it!" Peggy Hammeken's books The Teacher's Guide to Inclusive Education and Inclusion: 450 Strategies for Success gave me that kind of insight on how teachers might structure their classes, and The Paraprofessional's Handbook now provides it for the role of paraprofessionals.

The upbeat, can-do text is designed to give paras some much-needed training and advice on how to help kids in the classroom, but it's also useful for parents who may have always wondered what's being done and what ought to be. It's a good book to read if you want to know what to ask for in an IEP, what to suggest during a conference, what to recommend to a paraprofessional who asks what your child needs. I'm planning to pass my copy on to the special-education department at my kids' school, in the hope that they'll be inspired as well.

There are chapters specifically on social, academic, and behavioral supports, and the latter might be useful if you're working on putting together a behavior plan for your child or sending suggestions to the teacher. The social support suggestions provide a vision as to how paraprofessionals can enhance and enable with peer support programs. If these are issues you're dealing with, this is a book that can give you a little inspirational push into advocacy.

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