A Case Study of Compounding Views of Paraprofessional Roles and Relationships in Preschool Classrooms: Implications for Practice and Policy

Tiara Saufley Brown, Ph.D.
James Madison University

Tina Stanton-Chapman, Ph.D.
University of Cincinnati 


The purpose of this qualitative case study is to extend a previous study by Brown & Stanton-Chapman (2014) by exploring the dynamics between teachers and paraprofessionals in preschool classrooms. Specifically, researchers examined the relationship between eight paraprofessionals’ perspectives of job responsibilities and satisfaction in comparison to their assigned eight teachers’ perspectives of these same ideas. Data collection included semi-structured interviews of the 16 participants as well as classroom observations and document collection. Four key themes emerged from data collection: responsibilities are often influenced by the level of teacher and paraprofessional motivation; paraprofessionals often assimilate to match the lead teacher’s demeanor and perspectives; teachers and paraprofessionals view recognition and appreciation very differently; and the majority of classroom outcomes are primarily influenced by structured school policies. Considering these findings, implications for practice and directions for future research are discussed. 

Keywords:  paraprofessional, teaching assistant, educational assistant, relationship, preschool

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