Making the Transition From Paraeducator to Professional Educator: Five Minority Teachers Share Their Stories
White, Margaret Cole
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Slightly more than two million teachers will be needed for the nation's classrooms within the next decade. Consequently, some states have begun to look to their ready supply of paraeducators, also known as teacher assistants, as a pipeline for supplying qualified teachers. These paraeducators who make the career change to teachers are more likely to remain in hard-to-supply geographic areas and to increase the diversity of the teaching force. This study explored the lived experiences of five minority women who successfully negotiated the transition process to become professional teachers. Phenomenological interviewing, within the hermeneutic phenomenology tradition, was the methodology used for data collection. To understand how these paraeducators attained their aspiration, testimonies of their experiences were developed from a series of extended interviews and presented as reconstructed narratives. The transcribed narratives identified common themes that were linked with research on personal and professional development of minority women seeking to make a career change. The discussion of these narratives revealed transitional paths shaped by pain tempered by perseverance and goal-setting. The five women's working to achieve their goal, encased in a common time frame, began with an experience that propelled them on their journey. Four common elements emerged as beneficial in supporting attainment of their professional goals: (a) leadership support; (b) financial support; (c) family support; and (d) personal power.
- Doctoral Dissertations