First-Year Early Childhood Special Education Teachers and Their Assistants: "Teaching along with Her"

By Appl, Dolores | Teaching Exceptional Children, July/August 2006 | Go to article overview

First-Year Early Childhood Special Education Teachers and Their Assistants: "Teaching along with Her"


Appl, Dolores, Teaching Exceptional Children


Cathy, Kelly, and Lisa are early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers in inclusive, classroom-based programs. Each of them worked with assistant teachers during their first year as ECSE teachers, and that experience resulted in difficulties of varying degrees. For Cathy, those difficulties were most profound. During her first months of teaching, she expressed feelings of isolation in spite of having an assistant in her classroom. In a telephone interview (11/01/97), she said, "I'm by myself. . . It's like [I] don't have anyone to talk to." When asked about her assistant, she replied, "When I am talking to her, I'm usually trying to explain things, not to get suggestions."

What are the reasons behind Cathy's feelings of isolation, as well as obstacles encountered by Kelly and Lisa? How can similar difficulties be addressed by other beginning teachers or within teacher-preparation programs? How can beginning teachers and their assistants develop positive working relationships, which, in turn, can potentially decrease the pressures of first-year teaching?

Cathy, Kelly, and Lisa are graduates of a master's program in ECSE who participated in an in-depth qualitative study during their first year of teaching preschoolers with and without special needs (see Table 1 for data collected and abbreviations). Each of the three teachers worked with paraprofessionals, primarily their assistant teachers. Paraprofessional is a "generic term used to describe a wide range of service providers" (Hans & Korfmacher, 2002, p. 4). Paraprofessionals work under the supervision of certified or licensed individuals and may or may not have a college education (French & Pickett, 1997; Friend & Cook, 2003; Hans & Korfmacher; Striffler, 1993). Other terms used to describe the roles of paraprofessionals include pameducators; aides; technicians; and classroom, instructional, teacher, or therapy assistants (Drecktrah, 2000; French & Pickett; Friend & Cook). Those alternative descriptors may be more effective in establishing positive relationships, given Striffler's caution (1993) that the term paraprofessional may fail to convey the respect needed to promote team rapport. Nonetheless, the word is used generically in the literature to encompass a variety of roles filled by individuals working under the supervision of professionals. In this article paraprofessional is used when referring to those individuals in general and assistant or assistant teacher when referring to the specific individuals working with Cathy, Kelly, and Lisa.

The use of paraprofessionals in early intervention and special education is steadily increasing because of the rise in the number of children with disabilities being served and the shortage of qualified professionals (Bill, 2003; Drecktrah, 2000; French & Picket!, 1997; Giangreco & Broer, 2003; Palma, 1994; Striffler, 1993; Yates & Hains, 1997). Some infant and toddler programs purposely employ paraprofessionals who may be able to "bridge the social distance" between families and agencies (Hans & Korfmacher, 2002, p. 5). Sometimes parents work as paraprofessionals in such roles as service providers or coordinators. The goal is to develop strong relationships with the families being served by employing individuals from the same community or cultural background who have experienced similar life situations, such as poverty, teen pregnancy, or single parenthood (Hans & Korfmacher; Musick & Stott, 2000; Striffler, 1993). In such circumstances the qualities of the paraprofessional can ideally complement those of the professional and can provide an element of social validity to the program tStriifler, 1993).

Employing paraprofessionals produces economic and philosophical benefits, but the practice also has drawbacks. Hans and Korfmacher (2002) report several possible issues, including the possibilities that paraprofessionals may

* Lack formal education in child development.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

First-Year Early Childhood Special Education Teachers and Their Assistants: "Teaching along with Her"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.