Advice about para

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by MissCeliaB, Sep 12, 2014.

  1. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Sep 12, 2014

    I have a para in two of my classes who is giving me some difficulty. I need some advice. Part of this could be a "me" problem. I haven't had a para in my class since I taught kindergarten, and I'm unsure what to have her do. I have gotten no training. My AP says that though she is the inclusion specialist in the room, she should be working with all students on whatever I ask her to work on with them. She is not to pull the students out, except for testing accommodations. They need to be in the LRE as much as possible, and not miss any instruction.

    I am finding it stressful to work with her. She is not comfortable leading small groups of students because she is not comfortable teaching the content. She wants to always pull the ESE/SPED students. Also, she will tell them different instructions for assignments that they are given, usually whatever another teacher at the school is doing that she likes better. What prompted me to ask for advice is today when she borrowed a cell phone charger from a student to plug in her phone in the computer lab, didn't give the charger back before the end of class, didn't know the student's name, and needed my help figuring out who it was (I didn't know which student, either) which caused me to be late for my next class that I teach. It's not any one big thing she's doing, it's just a bunch of little things that are stressing me out!

    Does anyone have any advice, or know of any resources that are good for learning how to work with a para?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Sep 12, 2014

    She should be leading small groups if that's what she is expected to do. I would think that it shouldn't matter that she doesn't feel comfortable with the content. If she is uncomfortable with the content, she needs to make herself comfortable with the content, plain and simple. It might feel awkward to have to tell her this, but I think that you need to be straightforward about it. Perhaps you could give her a heads up about whatever material you'll be covering in the next marking period. Give her the schedule/syllabus/calendar and tell her that she needs to familiarize herself with this material by the date that it will be taught in class.

    I don't find it appropriate that she is giving alternate instructions, either. My advice would be to address that issue directly and tell her that she must follow the same instructions you give. If you notice that she is giving different instructions, immediately squash that by pulling her aside on the spot and telling her to go back and tell the students to do the work according to your instructions.

    Are teachers and paras allowed to use and charge their phones during class at your school? If not, you need to be firm about this one too. "We do not charge our phones during class, and we certainly don't do it using the students' personal chargers. Next time please take care of your phone charging needs on your own time."

    I guess all my advice boils down to being direct and firm.
     
  4. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Sep 13, 2014

    I do need to be firm with her, and I am. I also need to be respectful of her and not correct her in front of the students. The students do not like her very much already, so I know if I in any way treat her as less than an equal, they will pick up on that.

    I wish she were able to lead small groups, but she simply doesn't know the content well enough to do so. She is constantly asking me questions about what I am teaching, even if it is fairly basic stuff like direct and indirect characterization. She really does not know the content, so I do not want her teaching it. Ultimately, all of these kid's progress count toward my evaluation score. I'm the one accountable for their learning.

    Last year she tried to take over the classrooms of a few teachers, and every time they were firm with her, she would do her own thing even more. It is such a difficult situation because she is so sensitive about her education and about knowing she is right.
     
  5. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Sep 13, 2014

    Give her something very structured and very routine to do daily. The year I had a para similar to the one you are describing, I put her in charge of monitoring fluency (5th grade). I gave her a packet of passages, showed her how I wanted it documented, and gave her a list of kids. She pulled each one individually for about 5 minutes, then went to the next one. This activity filled her time, marked something off my list that I trusted her to do, and made her feel extremely valued.

    I'm not sure exactly what type of task would work with your subjects (I think I remember you teach high school English and film?), but maybe she could edit/ revise writing, provide notes to absent students, monitor the class while you pull groups?
     
  6. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Sep 13, 2014

    She could monitor the class while I pull groups. That's a good idea. The problem is that I don't pull groups every day. I would not trust her to give notes to absent students or edit writing because she does not have super strong verbal skills and may not recognize some of the common errors I'd want her to look for. I will try to pull more groups.
     
  7. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Sep 14, 2014

    I have a parapro like this. She is the same age as me but has been working at the school longer(about 6 months) so she doesn't like listening to me. Also during my lectures she would but in and try to tell me that I was wrong(she was taking a similar class in college) which would lead to me having to explain to her why I was in fact right. It got to the point where the students would actually ask her to be quiet and quit interrupting. I ended up switching with another teacher for that class period. I just couldn't work with her.

    This was last year my first year teaching. This year I was shockingly paired up with her again. Now that I'm more experienced and thus more confident dealing with this I just sat her down and told her what I wanted her to do and this was how it was going to be. I wasn't rude or anything but it seemed to click and now we get along fine. You need to just be upfront with what you want her to do. Your the teacher and shes there to listen to you. At the time I didn't really know what I wanted her to do but it sounds like you do know what you want. You just need to be assertive and make sure she knows what you expect.
     

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