The Basics of Behavior Management for Paraeducators

Paraeducator Managing BehaviorIn the course of a single school day, paraeducators might find themselves working with students in multiple classrooms and in other settings like the cafeteria, playgrounds, buses, or vocational settings. At some point during the day, they will probably be expected to support a student who needs more than academic help. Regardless of their specific role, paraeducators need to be familiar with effective behavior management strategies.


The Paraeducator's Role

Paraeducators are not responsible for managing student behavior on their own. The team of teachers and administrators create the behavior plan for the students. The paraeducator's job is to support and assist the teacher or administrator by following that behavior plan. The supervising teacher should explain all the material in a student's behavior intervention plan (BIP) and/or individualized education plan (IEP) to the paraeducator, including the role he or she wants the paraeducator to play. It's also important that paraeducators understand and follow the district's policies on discipline, restraint and seclusion, and requirements for documenting student behavior.


Online PD Courses for Paraeducators

Many Issues Impact Student Behavior

Many issues beyond school can impact student behavior. For example, student behavior can be impacted by disabilities, language and cultural differences, physical or mental health, stress, social difficulties, family dynamics, academic frustration, or substance abuse. All behavior is a means of communication. The four most common things students communicate through their behavior are needs and desires:

  • For attention.
  • To earn some type of rewarding activity or item.
  • To avoid or escape something unpleasant.
  • For some type of sensory experience.

If we can understand what the behavior is communicating, we can often help students learn more appropriate ways to express themselves.


Basics of Behavior Management for Paraeducators

The supervising teacher will provide direction on the specific strategies he or she wants the paraeducator to use. But there are things paraeducators can do that are universally helpful in behavior management.

  1. Develop good relationships with the students. Students tend to behave in more positive ways for adults with whom they share a respectful and nurturing relationship.
  2. Model respectful behavior. Speak to students the way you want them to speak to one another, listen when the teacher is speaking, and support the teacher's decisions.
  3. Stay calm and positive. When you stay calm it can also have a positive, calming effect on a student who is upset, anxious or angry.
  4. Assist the teacher in providing structure, routine, and organization. Students are less likely to misbehave in environments where expectations are clear and consistent.
  5. Interrupt and redirect. By changing the subject, switching activities temporarily, offering assistance or providing encouragement you can often slow the momentum and calm the student down.
  6. Catch them being good. Your response to good behavior can have a big impact on the likelihood of that behavior occurring again.


Exceptional Child includes a variety of courses designed to support behavior management for paraeducators to help them better address the needs of ALL students.

  • Paraeducators: Roles and Responsibilities
  • Paraeducators: Behavior Management Basics
  • Paraeducators: Assisting and Supporting Instruction
  • ADHD Overview (Essentials)
  • ASD Overview (Essentials)
  • BIP Overview (Essentials)
  • And more!

Click here to view the full course list.

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