Aides. UGH.

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by ZoomZoomZOOM, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Sep 28, 2008

    I walked into a situation where my two aides have been there for 10 and 4 years. The 10-year vet is friends with everyone in the building. She loves to chat. She also loves our kids, and they love her. That's a good thing. The problem is, we're kind of like oil and water. First of all, I'm not a chatter. I'd rather work. I also tend to micro-manage when it comes to the kids walking quietly down the hall and listening to instructions. I can tell this irritates her. When I'm modeling walking quietly down the hallway, she's chatting and making comments. I asked her and the other Aide if they would attend a reading program training specifically for Aides and she told me "We're not Aides. We're para-professionls. That training probably isn't for us." :rolleyes:

    One day my husband came to my classroom just before lunch to bring me something to eat and to meet the kids. As I was giving my kids the "be good at lunch and listen to directions" lecture, he heard my Aide say "Great. Now we're going to get trampled in the hallway" not once, but a few times. The bell hadn't rung for transition yet and she likes to get to the next class without typical kids in the hallway running each other down. Understandable, but I'm not that clear on transition times.

    Other things that bug me; I put some books on her desk so that she could make copies for me and they sat there untouched. Finally I grabbed them on Friday and made all the copies myself. She made a comment the other day about how the teacher that I took over for was "perfect in every way." Most of the time when the phone in my room rings - the staff ask to talk to her. EVEN IF I ANSWER THE PHONE. This happened last week and I sent an email to the teacher and told him if it happened again, to please let me know. He never responded.

    Anyway, my husband tells me I need to lay down the law and let them know who's in charge. It's also been suggested that I hold a meeting with my Aides. The problem is, as soon as the kids leave - they leave.

    I just don't feel like we're getting along too well. I don't know what the problem is. I'm not a *itch, I have a pretty decent sense of humor, I try and include them in everything that I do. I even give them a copy of my weekly schedule. What's their deal? Anyone else having these problems? Jeesh. They're really pi$$ing on my teaching cornflakes. :mad:
     
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  3. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z New Member

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    Sep 28, 2008

    A couple things:

    1. Do have the meeting with them. Tell them during the day to please stay after school and not leave immediately because you want to have an informal meeting. Perhaps explain that yes, you do things differently, but your the teacher now and you expect and require their cooperation.

    2. You do have to be kind but firm. Lay down the law... absolutely, but do whatever you can to be nice about it with a focus on diplomacy rather than dictatorship.

    3. Try not to let these things get to you. If you get all stressed out about it, you'll just make yourself stressed out and miserable.

    my .02
     
  4. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Sep 28, 2008

    I like all of those suggestions, especially number 2. Do be sure you have permission to ask them to stay after working hours. In my school this will earn you an automatic hostile aide if asked that without having the relationship there already.

    I love it when teachers are in control of the kids. I find the opposite true and THAT bugs me. In the end though I am okay as long as it doesn't affect how the teacher is with me or unnecessary work for me. Sad but true. Otherwise it is just a difference in teaching styles.

    It is difficult changing from one teacher to another. The other teacher comment is common. It is also a sign of insecurity on their part on just where they stand and how they fit in with you.

    Asking the aide things is okay in appropriate situations but that is WAY out of proportion and way out of line.

    Did you use a post it note on the book? Try saying something like, "Please make x number of copies of x pages. I need them by Friday. Many Thanks!"

    I LOVE the cornflake sentence. That cracked me up! :lol:

    P.S. Para-professional is the same as the title Aide. It's a matter of preference but it has nothing to do with differences in training. Sorry folks.
     
  5. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Sep 28, 2008

    Thanks for the input, C&G. (and Mr. Z - yours as well and welcome to AtoZ! :) ) I did put a postie on the book with directions. I'm thinking there's a line when she goes to the copier so she's gotten frustrated. Meanwhile I can go make copies on a Friday night at 4PM after everyone has left for the day. So I just went ahead and did it. I never say thanks on the postie, but I often thank them in front of all the kids. Something like, "Mrs. S put all of our recipe booklets together today so that we can cook. Thanks Mrs. S! You're awesome!" You know, really play it up. I am grateful for the work that they do do. In fact, it's often crossed my mind to have flowers delivered to them or something so they know that I appreciate their work. But then those little comments she makes... ugh. It just keeps me from going the extra mile, ya know? :unsure:
     
  6. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Sep 28, 2008

    I admit...

    Last Friday...

    When I was expected to copy about 40 pages, organize 100 pages, make 24 file folders, cut about 75 pieces of lamination and make 2 bulletin boards by the end of the afternoon AND assist in class, I took a full 30 min break and did not finish those copies. That was after she added the copies on top of my list and I was fed up.

    Having said that, a line at the copy machine, etc would not have stopped me. There is, however, a philosophy that whatever is not done at the end of the day that the teacher is legally responsible for. So if the aide doesn't complete it, it is not a burden on them. It sounds as though you answer that burden. I would be irritated, however, as a teacher to see it still sitting there especially if time was given. Uggghhh...

    I wish my teachers included me in front of the kids like you do your aide. That's nice.
     
  7. SpecSub

    SpecSub Comrade

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    Sep 30, 2008

    You do need to have a meeting with them. I would not ask them to stay past their working hours - it would be better to find another time. Have an agenda for the meeting - it looks like hallway and transition times are a conflict for all of you, so put that on there. Make sure you hear what they have to say.

    On your post-it notes for copies, make sure to say "please." I'm an assistant, and it bugs me to no end to just have a post-it with "5 copies" on my desk. We all deserve respect. Give her the time you need it by and make sure she does have enough time to do it.

    I would not go in and lay down the law and show them who's boss. That is no way to work with people, and could even get you in trouble if they complain to administration. Try to be diplomatic. Give them ownership in the classroom - find out what they're good at and run with it! Good luck, because I'm sure perfect aide/teacher relationships are rare, and you just have to make the best of what you have, or you'll be miserable like somebody else said.
     
  8. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Sep 30, 2008

    You may want to consider creating a schedule for copy-making and other duties that take the aid out of the classroom. This gives structure to the day and takes the personal element out of the issue. The aids I just worked with don't like to leave the classroom because they feel they are more needed there than making copies. You could also create procedures that you all adhere to for other issues you're having. As far as chatting during lineup ... Start a new project with your aid ... your students will get some kind of reward at the end of each week if there is no chatter in the hallway ... they get a signal word to quiet down that you and the aid will use to quiet the line. This again moves it from a personal issue to a class project.
     
  9. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Oct 1, 2008

    THanks for all the advice gang. I appreciate it.

    Here's what I'm doing to improve my situation (or what I will try because it only seems to be getting worse). I won't ask my aides to make copies unless it is an emergency. I'm going to stop asking them to help me in class unless I absolutely need them. One of my aides is starting to get pretty snotty toward me and honestly, she's making me start to dislike coming to school each day. The last thing I want to do at this point is to call a meeting. I find that I'm peddling backwards and instead of "showing them who's boss" I'm finding I'd rather just not talk to them at all. I know this is a poor attitude to have, but if you could hear some of the snide remarks she makes to me in front of the class, then you would understand. I don't know what i did to make her so mad, but it's gotten to that point for whatever reason. I'm a pretty blunt person and I'm afraid that if I try to talk to her about it right now that I will say something I regret.

    So right now I'm just going to chill out and see if she changes her attitude. Wish me luck.
     
  10. riggit

    riggit Rookie

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    Oct 7, 2008

    I have found from my experience that SOONER is better than LATER. In other words, talk with her about how you are feeling because it will only snowball into major problems. I also go the extra mile to give my aides some input into what happens in the room. I ask their advice, etc. and even if I don't use it, they feel like they were part of the decision making. Good luck!
     
  11. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    Oct 7, 2008

    I think not having the meeting is going to make things first. Everyone needs to get their feelings out in the open. After the meeting, hopefully things will be better.
     
  12. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Well the last few days have been a lot better. I think I figured out what I did wrong. I've been trying to talk to them more and get their take on things. It seems to be helping. I also don't ask them to make copies and rarely leave work on their desks. Instead I'll wait until I see them and then say, "Hey ____, can you do me a favor today and _______? I'd appreciate it."

    Yep. I'm kissin' aide buttocks. Anything to have a friendly atmosphere in there!
     
  13. Canadian Gal

    Canadian Gal Habitué

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    Oct 8, 2008

    My team teacher and I had a similar problem with one of our aides. We tried to address things in a general manner in our team meetings, however, she still felt attacked. We had to have a meeting with her, but we had our principal sit in, to act as a bit of a mediator. Things seem to be better, but it was VERY difficult, particularily as the EA, who is old enough to be my Mom, burst into tears the minute she sat down in the meeting.

    Does your district or division have guidelines for aides? What is expected of them, etc. I know in my division we CANNOT expect aides to do ANY prep work or marking. That's our job, they are only there to support us. That said, I still ask my EAs from time to time to help me out, but I definitely have to say please, thank you and kiss their butts a bit for it to happen.
     
  14. JEL

    JEL Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2008

    That's not true in all places. Here in NY, if a public school district requires certified teaching assistants, there are TAs and aides. TAs are now required to have a minimum of 18 college credits, take a certification exam (general knowledge), complete violence and child abuse training, progress from level 1 to 3 for continuing certification, have formal observations leading to tenure, and complete 75 hours of approved continuing education every 5 years. A level 3 TA can and is expected to do direct instruction under the umbrella of a certified teacher.

    Aides have no educational requirements although a high school degree is preferred. They must be fingerprinted and pass a background check, as do all school district employees. They cannot do student instruction, but supervise at recess, lunch, etc., do classroom clerical work, and supervise children during some classroom activities (this cannot be instructional, just crowd control :)).

    Reading the original post reminded me of my first year as a TA, except it was the teacher who behaved unprofessionally. If I hadn't needed the job so much, I would have quit. What I wouldn't do was stoop to the level of the lunacy going on in the classroom. All I could think was that I would be a failure as a mother if my children ever treated coworkers (especially those reporting to them!) the way my teacher treated me. In the end, I stuck it out, didn't say anything, and tried to do a good job despite the chaos. Someone must have noticed, because I was reassigned the next year to an excellent teacher in a position that I really enjoy. I actually feel like I'm doing something worthwhile!

    One last note; many teachers are terrific in how they treat us, but some treat TAs condescendingly. We don't expect teacher pay, but our starting wage is about 1/3 of a beginning teacher's, and an increasing number of TAs now have bachelor's and even master's degrees. We have a lot of responsibility and accountability for a very modest wage.
     
  15. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2008

    Paraproffessionals and aides are one in the same in my school, they are all required to have 18 hours of college in order to be one and have a background check and be CPR certified, but that is all.

    I feel for you, I have a bad aide situation also, but my aide is putting my students in danger by not following feeding procedures, not changing diapers etc. It goes way beyond that in the horrible things that have been happening and HR is involved, yet after 4 weeks and 3 major instances with students and finding out our aide used to be a low sped student herself, she is still not fired, she has been suspended twice though. I have now just sat her on the couch in my roomt o read to my lower kids, she is not allowed to do anything and it irritates me to no end to know she is getting a paycheck for doing anything while our dept is very shorthanded. But this is your post. I hope things get better I have had situations like that and I just took and just had to sit them down and say this is how it is going to be, It ook this to my principal first, and he backed me up, so that helped. They all left and I got 2 good aides this year and 1 bad one, hey it is better than 3 bad ones.:)
     
  16. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Oct 9, 2008

    Cut-n-Glue, I think I've figured out the problem. I guess I wasn't getting to know them well enough. Another problem was that I was always assuming the worst. Today I had some time to sit and talk with one of my aides and ask her how she thought the lessons were going, etc. She said she thought they were going really well and she wouldn't change anything. We went on a field trip today with another special needs class. One thing I noticed was that my aides were really busting their booties to help out with the wiener roast, making kool-aid, getting plates and napkins out, and keeping the kids in order. The other gal's aides were sitting down chatting. It made me realize how lucky I am. Even though my aides and I don't always see eye-to-eye, they're hard workers and the love the kids. When I told my husband this he asked if I had told them what a good job they were doing and I said no, I had not. It just totally slipped my mind, honestly. He got on me and told me that good managers always tell their crew when they're doing good work and I realized that he's right. So I'm going to get them a couple of small "thank you" gifts this weekend. A peace offering!
     
  17. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Zoom, that's great. Recently my new teacher was ready to say something (putting it nicely) because I had given them white paper to draw on. She had her battle face on because I had done something without permission. At the last minute she decided to ask me WHY I did it. I happily explained that I knew her meeting ran late but I didn't want them to be riled up by sitting there being bored until she got back. I wasn't sure how long it would be. I wanted to keep them nice and quiet so they would be ready to focus when she arrived. When she heard this, it made all the difference. When she asked me, it also made all the difference. :)
     
  18. ITeachSDCkids

    ITeachSDCkids Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2008

    Para Problems

    In my opinion the aides are taking complete advantage of you! It sounds as if you have made a real effort and they are not. They are there to support student learning under your direction.That includes clerical support as needed and it is ridiculous to try and do it all yourself. If you start that when you have busy days, it may become more and more difficult. The solution is not doing their jobs for them, you have enough responsibilities. I would have a meeting and not after school, classified personnel is not usually obligated to stay and they have a different bargaining contract under their union then certified teachers. Try asking the principal if she/he can help with coverage for PE time or some other time so you can meet. If that is impossible, try on a Friday if you have a earned reward period for students. Meet in the classrom (in a quiet area) once the students are settled in to an earned reward movie or possibly during library time. Ideally a once a week check in for the team is best. I would consider discussing your ideas for the working team and work styles. Also possibly offer to collaborate with them on individualized job descriptions (specific to your classroom and students) you hand out at the meeting based on the copies of their "general job descriptions" you get beforehand from the district or administration. You can list the job duties and clarify any as well as address any concerns and compromize if possible (within reason). Being chatty in the hall or during instruction time is disrespectful and does not model well for students. You may also want to pick up a copy of "Managing ParaEducators in Your School" by Nancy French. Managing adults in the classroom is not always easy and as teachers we come mainly to teach students, that is our focus. However, managing Paras has become a part of the job. Often Paras like to carve out thier own jobs based on their experiences with former teachers or at other schools, which does not mean they were appropriately trained. It is a nation wide problem, especially after NCLB. Making remarks about how the former teacher was "perfect" and other pointed remarks seems to indicate an adjustment/attitude problem. It does not show a desire to be on board for a new classroom team, the one you are directing and facilitating. The suggestion about copies being done at a certain time is a good one. I had a situation like this once and it came down to making out a per period schedule (aide's planner) for duties and when to do what. After a few months it was no longer needed once folks got the idea that work time was for work and time was being managed and planned. If your efforts do not get results I would talk to the administrator, even if the aides have been there a while and "know everyone". Unless it is school business, calling the classroom is not okay-just like using cell phones during class time is not. There is a fine line between someone not getting to the work you give them (if it is reasonable) and insubordination. Will you be asked for input at evaluation time? If so document anything you feel is a concern so you can address what solutions you tried.
    A schedule should reflect what you need done and whether it is a planner or a "to do" list it needs to be followed. If you put something up to be copied (I use a copy log) and it isn't done, ask directly that it be done within a time frame rather then doing it. When you have your sit down, ask them how they feel about the year so far and let them talk as you listen. You will be able to learn the best way to manage once you hear their views. Although you may not like some of what you hear, it will help you to see what the needs are. Take it in stride, you can learn about who you are dealing with. It is clear you need to take some steps and action. Working with aides who are contrary can make your job miserable. A trained aide should be asking you what you need, observing how you do things and supporting you and your classroom philosophy. It is time for them to get over the former teacher leaving and recognize you are their immediate supervisor now and for good reason, your the teacher and whatever happens in the classroom, you are responsible for (legally) and trained to take on that responsibility. It is great that your Paras feel good about their title, yet the word Paraprofessional means a person who is working alongside a trained professional, a certified teacher. There are significant differences between the qualifications and training. You may consider that a classroom does not operate as a democracy in the sense that every adult is in charge or what you ask Paras to do is optional. There is only one teacher in the classroom in that sense. In order to serve students Paras play a very important role, often roles and their differences may get confused and this is an opportunity to address that. Be strong and meet the challenge! I wish you the best with this.
     
  19. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Oct 15, 2008

    Thank you for the advice, ITeach. I appreciate it. I'm sorry it took me so long to respond - busier than a box of squirrels over here. :) Life with my aides has gotten a lot better in the last couple of weeks. Last week I missed three days because of mandatory training. My aides did a great job with my class and I gave them a couple of small gifts yesterday as a "thank you." I believe I'll kill them with a little kindness. Maybe that will make them want to make copies for me.
     
  20. resourcestress

    resourcestress Rookie

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    Oct 16, 2008

    How's it going? I was a "para" and they are the same as an aid. I hope you do the meeting it's best to get things out in the open. Also keep records or what you ask them to do so in the meeting and any other time you have documentation. Also document their comments. When you have the meeting just say, 'we may have gotten off on the wrong foot, this is what I hope to accomplish in the classroom with your help... Please try to refrain from comments not related to this classroom or conversations not related to this curriculum as we have a limited time and need to stay on track. It's often hard to get the students to focus so please let's try to begin and end class with helpful comments and conversation that relates to the curriculum." Wow that's pretty good, I'm gonna use it with my aids/paras.
     
  21. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Oct 17, 2008

    I'm glad things are better for you! It's so important to start things off on the right foot btwn teachers & aides. I can relate. I remember when I was a 1st yr special ed teacher. The aide I got almost halfway through the yr had been there 17 yrs, was at least 15 yrs older than me, so she knew everyone. I started off on the right foot. I didn't act like I was on any high horse, I welcomed her input, tried to start (non-work related) small talk here & there, the whole bit, etc. She was nice at 1st, but soonafter, became a real b!tch. I don't know what changed, but since she knew everyone, she didn't need my friendship, after all, I was the newcomer just starting out. We shared the rm w/ the speech therapist, so she became chummy w/ her. I fortunately was on jury duty the last 2 mos of the school yr, but was back at work several days bef school was out. She was ignoring me by then. I'm glad I don't work there w/ her anymore.
     
  22. krisaustin

    krisaustin Companion

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    Oct 21, 2008

    Right now I feel as though I am having a problem with one of my aides. I feel as those this person is questioning everything that I do. I know my students and I work with many other related serives people. I often incorporate what they are working on into my classroom. I know my students level and push them into that zone of proximal development, but not into frustration. I feel as though this aide thinks that I am not challenging my students enough. I have worked with most of my students for over two years and know them quite well.

    I am not sure how to approach my aide. I tried saying that I am not the PT or OT and I am just following what they have suggested, but I am still questioned???? I am not question by "why" or "I don't understand" but instead, "Don't you think" or "Believe me it is this way."

    Sorry I just needed to get this off my chest. I was very upset at work today and felt as though I was not doing my job right.
     
  23. Luv2Learn

    Luv2Learn Companion

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    Oct 21, 2008

    Hi krisaustin,

    As an applicant to become a teacher's aide within an ESE classroom (on my way to becoming a teacher myself), I can't comment too much on your post.

    The comment I will make is that as an aide myself, supporting my lead teacher is my prime responsibility. I have not received my degree yet, so the experience and education I have is minscular to what the lead teacher has. One of the things I would hope and expect from my lead teacher are both formal and informal get togethers to discuss the needs of the teacher and the class. Both teachers and aides need to work together to provide the best education possible. The only way that I would ever go over the head of a lead teacher is if there is a major cause of concern that hasn't been addressed and where a child's personal wellbeing is at stake.

    If you feel that you are having a real difficult time communicating this to your aide, see if you can have someone sit in with you (possible another special ed teacher), as back up. You are the lead teacher and if you have special instructions from PT, OT, or whatever, relay the information to your aide so they know what they would need to do, but don't feel that you have to explain yourself further, especially if they (aides) act belligerent to you.
     

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