Paraprofessionals are becoming more prominent in classrooms and schools across the U.S. Budget cuts and growing enrollment lead to large class sizes, and paraprofessionals are hired to assist teachers and students in these classrooms. While they may not have the educational credentials and experience of a teacher, they are still an important member of the education team. Their contributions can be significant if teachers and supervisors guide them in setting a goals and objectives plan for paraprofessionals.

Goals vs. Objectives

Although often lumped together, goals and objectives are not the same thing. Goals focus on the big picture and what a paraprofessional wants to achieve. Objectives are methods for reaching that goal. For example, if a paraprofessional has a goal of teaching a lesson on George Washington, objectives may include developing a lesson plan and creating a hands-on activity about George Washington. When setting goals and objectives, the teacher or supervisor may need to explain the difference between the two to aid the paraprofessional in setting appropriate goals and objectives.

Ownership

The individual who sets a goal is the owner of the goal and is most likely to achieve it. Paraprofessionals should have the opportunity to set their own goals for their job, so that they have a vested interest in the outcome. Input and discussion about goals and objectives for a paraprofessional should come from the classroom teacher or supervisor to ensure that the goals and objectives are on target with the needs of the classroom, the paraprofessional and the institution.

Professional Development

While most of the goals and objectives set for paraprofessionals should focus on their job duties and responsibilities, it's also important to have professional development goals. These are goals that focus on additional training and education for paraprofessionals, which help them perform better in their job. For example, a professional development goal for a paraprofessional may be to attend the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals Conference to learn more about best practices of aiding in the classroom.

Periodic Review

To ensure that paraprofessionals stay on track with their goals and objectives, it's important that they periodically check their progress and make adjustments. These quick reviews don't need to be in-depth, but they do need to happen regularly. In-service days can be great for this, since it doesn't take much time, but paraprofessionals have time away from students to reflect on what they've accomplished and what they need to do next.

Annual Review

Each year a paraprofessional should review her goals and objectives to see what she has accomplished. A self-evaluation of the success and failure of her goals and objectives should be done first by the paraprofessional before the teacher or supervisor reviews the the goals and objectives with the paraprofessional. This gives the paraprofessional the opportunity to examine strengths and weaknesses before she is brought up by her supervisor or classroom teacher. After conducting a review, she can make a new goals and objectives plan for the next year.