Significance of Shadow Teacher


Saviour for Child

Magic Johnson once said ‘All kids need is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them.

The main aim of school is to facilitate the development of academic and social skills along with making them independent as individuals. School environment and teacher also work hard to make the student understand the rules of play and engage in social interaction by sharing and caring. Though schools and teachers work with this ideology, not all children progress at the same pace Leading some children to require the extra push and support to facilitate the development of these skills, but it is too difficult for the normal teachers to provide this about of individualised attention and meet the requirement of each child as they are engrossed with other works assigned to them. So, Shadow teachers are the one who provide this additional support and extra push along with providing special attention to the child that he/she requires.

Shadow Teacher is an educational assistant who works directly with a single child with special need. They are also called co-teacher/ para educator who monitor and assist a special child’s progress in class. Shadow teacher have an understanding about different pervasive developmental disability and delays, with an understanding of what kind of support and providing them accordingly.


What do a Shadow Teacher do?

The following are the roles of a shadow teacher.

  • Sit with the special child and make sure that the child is given social, educational and physical support in the classroom.
  • They bridge the gap (i.e.., inability of the normal teacher to meet the special requirement of the child) by taking the child with special needs under their wing.
  • Help fill in the gaps in the child’s learning process.
  • Help the child in moving them into mainstreaming schooling i.e.., facilitate in the promotion of inclusive education.
  • Facilitate in the formulation of early intervention of the child by identifying the developmental delays of the child and by using remedial strategies and techniques to promote development.
  • Clarifying and teaching difficult concepts in the way that the child understands and comprehends based on his/her mental age.
  • Provide individualised attention to the child by understanding the child completely and taking into consideration their strength and weakness and promoting their strength and working on their areas of weakness.
  • Meeting the behavioural needs of the children by responding adequately and facilitate the development of appropriate behaviour matching the child’s average peer age.
  • To facilitate and promote peer-to-peer positive interaction by prompting the child with special needs to initiate discussion with fellow peers.
  • Help in building the confidence level of the individual by working on their negative self-perception that these children hold about themselves due to poor treatment from fellow peers or family members.
  • Holding a positivistic attitude in child’s way of approaching and accomplishing new task by constantly supporting and motivating them.
  • Help the child to report appropriately to social situation by engaging the child in desirable behaviour.


Thus, shadow teacher not only foster academic and social skill development in child but they facilitate in developing overall personality of the child along with improving their quality of life.

Crucial function that Shadow Teacher engage in!

The following are the main activities that the shadow teacher engages in or does:

  • Set tasks and work through child’s challenge: By taking into consideration the following elements:
    • Child’s Age: The chronological as well as the mental age of the child.
    • Grade level: The grade level that the child currently is in and his/ her actual ability.
    • Child’s background: The social and environmental background the child is from and their views and attitude towards the child and his/her condition.
    • Social and Emotional development of the child: Level of social and emotional development that the child is exhibit and the actual level based on his/ her chronological age.
    • Academic development: Level of academic skill and ability that the child possess and the required academic skill based on his/ her age.
    • Learning style: By having an understanding about the learning style and learning preference of the child to formulate individualised educational plan.

The shadow teacher also takes into account the

    • Teacher Character: the teaching skills and methodology of the teacher and the nature of subject being taught.
    • Educational Philosophy: The child, his/ her significant others and teachers belief towards teaching and learning.
    • Individualise the teaching curriculum: In a way and level that that child would understand and comprehend.
    • Help the child understand the dynamics of social interaction by breaking it and explaining it in the way that the child understands along with facilitating the child to follow basic protocol and rules.
    • Serve as a bridge between teacher, child and the parent.
    • Continuously monitor the child’s behaviour and development and keep a record of the same.
    • Report the progress made by the child to his/her significant others (parent/ caregiver) or teachers.
    • The main function of the special educator is to make the child as independent as possible i.e.., making him/her capable to handle his/her life.


Benefits of having a Shadow Teacher

The following are some of the benefits of having a shadow teacher for the child, parent and the teacher:

  • For the child: Help the child follow regular classroom instruction and facilitate the child to have normal interaction with peers.

Identify the child’s strength and facilitate in development and strengthening of those strengths

Promote educational enrichment and personality development along with improving the child’s quality of life.

  • For school: Acts as a mean providing collaborative efforts in order to meet the special needs of the child.
  • For Parent: Provides a record of progress by communicating with the parent about what is going on with the child.

Increase their sense of security or safety, because the parents are assured that shadow teachers are there with the child to meet their special needs and would work on to make the child become independent by facilitating the development of his/her overall skills.


What to look for in a Shadow Teacher?

Hire a shadow teacher who has an in-depth understanding about the following two components:

  • About the development process of the child and different developmental disorder and delay and how it would have an impact on the different domains of the child’s development.
  • Ability and skill to formulate remedial intervention to meet the special needs or requirement of child.

Usually an individual who has completed a course in Special Education, Learning Disability, Developmental or Child Psychology and Rehabilitation Psychology.

Ponder Over:

With the requirement of shadow teacher growing rapidly in Indian society, the concept of Shadow Teacher is starting to gain prominence recently i.e.., more people are becoming aware of the concept of Shadow Teacher and the schools and parents are becoming more open about the attitude of hiring a Shadow Teacher for their child with special needs.

Though there is increase in requirement for shadow teacher and people in India are becoming more open about the concept, the sad reality of inadequate shadow teacher to meet the demand and underqualified or unqualified professionals is taking prominence in India.

Thus, shadow teachers are the one staying behind scene in the shadow to make the child gain and shine in the limelight.

When people in world see the disability a shadow teacher sees the possibility.