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Why this matters:

Students learn best when they’re engaged in the lesson, and occasionally, the lead teacher may need their paraprofessional to help with reminders or special incentives. This question tests the candidate’s ability to effectively manage a classroom while enhancing the learning experience for students who may need the additional support.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to engage students with reminders and incentives approved by the lead teacher
  • Experience in helping unmotivated students complete their assignments
  • An explanation of some effective techniques used to support unmotivated students

Why this matters:

When entering the classroom, it’s crucial that paraprofessionals understand their responsibilities in order to successfully guide students and partner with the lead teacher. They don’t have to be licensed educators — but must still be familiar with the classroom setting and how to maintain a productive learning environment.

What to listen for:

  • An understanding of the responsibilities that come with being a paraprofessional
  • An eagerness to support students with their learning
  • A detailed explanation of the paraprofessional’s role in the classroom

Why this matters:

Although paraprofessionals don’t have to fully master differentiation strategies, it’s preferable if they’re somewhat familiar with and capable of implementing them into small group instruction. Especially when it comes to assisting students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), differentiation strategies can help break apart content material and make it more accessible.

What to listen for:

  • Demonstrated experience in helping small groups of students with their learning
  • Familiarity with student IEPs to ensure proper differentiation
  • Knowledge of effective differentiation strategies that guide students through assignments

Why this matters:

Sometimes, when students aren’t able to internalize the lesson or understand the expectations of an assignment, they can easily become discouraged. Through effective social-emotional learning methods, however, paraprofessionals can help students regulate their emotions in a healthy manner while guiding them through differentiated material.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to guide a student through their negative emotions
  • An ability to work one-on-one with students who need emotional accountability
  • An understanding of best practices for social-emotional development

Why this matters:

Parent and family outreach is a crucial, necessary job responsibility, as paraprofessionals may have to often communicate student information and progress. It’s important that paraprofessionals do not restrict family contact to negative or constructive updates — they should also note student accomplishments, improvements, and strengths.

What to listen for:

  • An expert understanding of how consistent family outreach impacts student progress
  • A willingness to communicate student needs and updates when necessary
  • Demonstrated experience in building lasting positive relationships with families

Why this matters:

When it comes to classroom management or small group instruction, the lead teacher and paraprofessional may have differing opinions on what is most fitting for the students. In these situations, paraprofessionals must not take any disagreements personally and actively partner with the teacher to come to an agreement that they both can work toward.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to identify a conflict and develop meaningful, actionable solutions
  • An ability to communicate clearly when explaining their rationale to the lead teacher
  • A willingness to facilitate uncomfortable conversations for a productive classroom environment 

Why this matters:

Students need and rely on structure, not only in their academic lessons but also in their learning space. In order to maximize student learning and engagement, teachers and paraprofessionals must collaborate and ensure that the classroom environment is consistently organized, decorated, and well-kept.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to organize classroom supplies, papers, and other materials 
  • An explanation of how a student’s learning environment affects their engagement
  • A willingness to collaborate with the lead teacher to ensure successful organization

Why this matters:

Students learn most effectively when they have positive relationships with their teachers and other educators. Therefore, it’s imperative that paraprofessionals establish rapport with students, especially those they interact with in small groups. Positive relationships also lead to more effective classroom management, which benefits the class as a whole and allows the teacher to facilitate their lessons more efficiently.

What to listen for:

  • A strong understanding of relationship-building methods
  • An explanation of how positive relationships impact student learning
  • Demonstrated experience in building positive rapport with students in the classroom

Why this matters:

There are various reasons why students may sometimes disrupt the classroom. In order to support the teacher and ensure the lesson runs smoothly, the paraprofessional must be able to quickly identify and mitigate disruptions. Whether it’s through ongoing reminders, positive incentives, or small group support, they must work together with the student to ensure that they can still learn successfully.

What to listen for:

  • An ability to remain patient and calm when communicating with disruptive students
  • An ability to consistently hold students accountable to classroom expectations
  • Familiarity with classroom management practices that help de-escalate stressful situations
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