“Para” means “side-by-side”; a paraprofessional educator is someone who works side-by-side with professional educators. Teachers, principals, instructional coaches, and other professional educators assign educational responsibilities to paraprofessionals who work both collaboratively and in shared accountability with educators. Paraprofessional educators are sometimes called “paraprofessionals,” “parapros,” “teachers’ aides,” “teaching assistants,” or “aides.”
In the United States, special education paraprofessionals work with students with disabilities. School districts also employ other paraprofessionals to help out with instruction in kindergartens, in programs for English Learners, as well as to help out with non-instructional duties, such as monitoring behavior in the cafeteria or on the bus.