“, but it becomes their best subject.”


Giving students needed attention

Paraeducators work directly with children. Some help the teacher (read more) in the classroom and work with the children who need one-on-one attention. Others assist in computer labs and some even reach out to families in their homes. They make sure students get help when they need it. They support and enhance (read more) the work of teachers in all components of the education process

Were it not for special education paraeducators, many students wouldn’t receive the personal attention necessary to achieve daily milestones.

Debbie Gieseman is a paraeducator with Vista Unified School District. She busily works seven periods a day with special education students in subjects including math, reading, social studies and language. Throughout these classes, Gieseman, a job steward with Vista Unified 389, works directly with kids to practice their skills and increase their retention.

Gieseman also maintains daily behavior/reward systems, prepares attendance reports, inputs information for Individual Education Plans, calls parents and enhances curriculum, among other things. With the wealth of tasks to complete, Gieseman is very busy all day long. But she does it all for the kids.

“I know that what I do has a very positive effect on my students,” Gieseman said. “I spend the most time with the lowest performing students, and I see the changes. They go from hating math to maybe not loving it, but it becomes their best subject.”

She explained that paraeducators work a lot with students who have behavioral issues, helping them to deal with anger issues or other disruptive problems. Gieseman said that she sees her job as not only preparing students for high school, but also for life.

“In many ways, I am like a second mom—not intimidating like the teacher,” she said.

Gieseman said that being a paraeducator is akin to devoting your life to helping students reach their full potential.

“We are all dedicated. We work too hard, for too little money, to be anything but dedicated,” Gieseman said.

Paraeducators know all the routines and curricula, and they run the class when the regular teacher is gone, she said. And when they are gone for a day, teachers are hard-pressed to handle all the demands of a classroom full of special education students. Gieseman said paraeducators are definitely a special breed.

“A paraeducator must be able to command as well as they take commands, lead as well as they take directions, and teach as well as they learn,” she said. “That is why a great paraeducator will make a great teacher, but a great teacher may not be a good paraeducator.”

The above is selected material from CSEA

CSEW continues through Saturday, and I plan to conclude this series with more profiles and stories about the work that we do.