Sharing Supervisory Responsibilities

How are the supervisory responsibilities of special and general education teachers shared?

Collaboration among professionals is essential to effective curriculum and instruction for students whose needs vary, but teamwork related to the seven executive functions of paraeducator supervision is often ignored. It is very important for collaborating teachers to plan for paraeducator supervision and to share the functions of supervision.

The teaching responsibilities and supervisory functions of classroom teachers vary somewhat from those of the special education teacher. The table below illustrates the division of responsibilities (including the supervisory functions) between two teachers who share students for two types of school professional positions-the classroom-based teacher and the special education teacher.

How do you determine who shares supervisory responsibilities?

Several professional team members may share paraeducator supervision functions. The lines of authority and communication that are so readily apparent in one-on-one supervisor-supervisee relationships become less obvious when teams share supervisory responsibilities.

When this is the case, teams must clarify who will perform the executive functions of paraeducator supervision. Below are three examples of professional teams who share responsibility for the executive functions of paraeducator supervision. Each circumstance demands a unique response to the distribution of supervisory functions. Teams may use the following considerations to help decide how to assign and share the seven supervisory functions.

Consideration 1: Who plans the curriculum, instruction, adaptations, or related services for the students the paraeducator supports?

  • Hint: This person (or persons) may or may not be physically present in the classroom during instruction. In fact, this person may not be physically present in the school at all times (e.g. itinerant speech language pathologists, physical therapists). In most special education programs, the case manager has overall responsibility for the IEP even though many professionals contribute assessment information, plans and programs. Typically, general education teachers hold overall responsibility for meeting curricular standards.


Consideration 2: Who has physical proximity with the paraeducator?

  • Hint: In cases where no single professional is physically present the majority of the time, supervisory functions requiring proximity (e.g. monitoring task performance, and providing task performance feedback to the paraeducator) may need to be spread across team members.


Consideration 3: Who has the skills or legal obligation to provide training for assigned duties?

  • Hint: This person may or may not be physically present on a daily basis, but must provide the training because of their licensing requirements or specific training or skill. Examples include school nurses who delegate the task of giving medications or providing other health-related services to a student. By law, the nurse must provide training and monitoring of the task. Also included here are occupational, physical, and speech-language therapists who determine the necessary interventions, but who are not physically present to carry out those interventions on a daily basis.


Consideration 4: Who observes and documents task performance?

  • Hint: This may be the person who is present daily or it may be another professional team member who creates opportunities to conduct first-hand observations. In the cases of professional therapists and nurses, regulations guiding their professions require a regularly scheduled observation and documentation of paraeducator task performance.