Back Again....Not Seeing Eye to Eye with Assistant

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by pinkrobots27, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Sep 26, 2010

    My thought on this would be that it might be time to redefine the structure of your classroom. It doesn't really sound like you believe in a punitive environment and yet your classroom is set up with that as a base.

    Is the level system a school thing or a classroom thing? If its a classroom thing decide if you want to continue using it (you are the teacher and can decide this if it is a classroom thing). If it is a school thing and you must keep it in place, define how it works in your classroom, make some rules and create visuals on it. This might include things like students only drop one level at a time, students must explain to you why they are dropping the level and what they need to change as they go to the chart and drop their name...etc. Basically whatever works for you but my feeling would be that it is very important for the student to know why they are dropping a level. In this I would include information about how people talk with and treat others in the classroom (talk respectfully, no physical interactions...etc.).

    I personally would also add in some type of reinforcement system that would be created dependent on the functioning level of your students. An example might be a token economy where students can earn classroom dollars and then use the money to buy little things and/or earn privledges. Within this system I would not have punitive measures (taking things away).

    Once you have a good idea of how you want your classroom to work and a couple of systems in place that will bring you closer to having your own room then I would sit down and talk with the para before you present all of this to the students. Outline how your classroom will work and what her role will be in that. Ask her if she has concerns about any of it and stand firm on the things that are completely necessary in your mind (no hitting, students understanding why they drop levels, respectful talk...etc. whatever they happen to be). If there are things that she is having a hard time with that you can bend on then find a middle ground.

    There will be bumps and you may have to meet from time to time and evaluate how things are going. She may end up having some great suggestions for how to make things work. Don't feel that you have to come up with all of it on your own but you do need to feel comfortable with the way things that are done in your classroom.

    The hitting with the rule I would say in no uncertain terms it is unacceptable and would also report to your admin that this has been happening and that you have told her it needs to stop. Your admin will tell you if anything else needs to be done.
     
  2. pinkrobots27

    pinkrobots27 Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2010


    Please understand that I do take the ruler issue seriously. I have talked to her about and I do NOT like it all, which is why I came
    to this forum. HOWEVER, you are not in my work environment and it is very difficult for me to express the ins and outs of my administration without giving away too much information about my school. Bottom line, my admin would not take this seriously and put it off on me. Therefore, I am going to take charge and make my expectations even clearer to my assistant.

    She does with one particular student and she really needs to just not work with him. He is violent/manic and requires patience to succeed in the classroom. Not her forte.

    I just felt it necessary to make sure everyone knew that I do not agree with this behavior and I am doing all that I can to make sure it does not happen while being conscious of my admin's frankly crooked and ineffective ways.
     
  3. pinkrobots27

    pinkrobots27 Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2010

    The ESNU is a school rule. I have been working with the children on dropping a conduct grade at a time and it is in our Consequences section. You are right, I do not agree with a punitive system. As far as reinforcers, we do tickets for good behavior/going above and beyond/acts of kindness, etc, etc. I take away tickets for misbehavior. Tickets lead up to going to prize box, which they love. Do you think I should keep taking away tickets for misbehavior? That does seem to motivate them because everyone wants to get to the prize box.

    Thank you for all your advice. It is very helpful. I am going to meet with her tomorrow and get this straightened out.

    I have not been able to sleep or get much done this weekend because I am so upset about what is going on. My stomach is in knots 24/7 and I'm tired of teaching like that.

    Still reading through all the great suggestions...
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Oh, I don't think any of us felt that you agreed with the behavior. My own take on it was that you simply weren't sure how to deal with it. If, as you say, your administration will take her side in it (remarkable, isn't it, that they'll endanger their own jobs that way???) then you're right: you just have to work around her, make sure that she does as little harm as possible.
     
  5. mom2mikey

    mom2mikey Cohort

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    Sep 26, 2010

    pink - I understand how hard it is to move in a room that has very established routines at the beginning of the year. I can't imagine how difficult it would be in your situation where "they" were able to establish things at the beginning of the year and then you have to come in as the "new leader".

    May I suggest that you document each time your learning assistant uses the ruler on the child as well as what you did by way of intervention (reminder that we do not do that in the classroom or whatever it happens to be)? While administration may not be supportive I would still consider sending them information that you have documented related to this. I can't imagine that this is "legal" anywhere and you are responsible for everything that happens in your classroom.

    I'm glad to hear that you are using a reinforcement system (prize box). If the taking away tickets is working and the students seem motivated by it I would just leave it as is for now and try to establish some of the other stuff (because the learning assistant might become even more harsh if you can't take the tickets away). I'm not a big believer in students being able to loose things in a token economy but there are different feelings on this and we have to do what works for us as long it is respectful and predictable to the students in your room.

    It sounds like you care very much about your students and from there you can build the rest.

    I started in a new job four years ago. At that time I had 5 learning assistants in the room and 4 of them had been there forever. The teacher before me had a very different appraoch than I did (not right/wrong but just different) and it has taken me most of those 4 years to change everything over to be the way that I would envision the classroom. I had to build the vision with the learning assistants (and sometimes even change part of my original vision to allow for the adult personalities that were in the room). Don't be too hard on yourself but keep plugging forward with the plan of making this a positive, supportive and safe environment for your students.
     
  6. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Here's the thing- she hit a kid (popping is hitting). You were a witness to it. Not reporting it is negligence. Reporting it to administration and having it ignored is negligence. A parent who found out that their kid was being hit in school by a staff member would have a pretty good legal case. Toxic environment or not, administrative support or not- kids' safety is in danger AND it's your professional reputation and license on the line if you choose to do nothing about the hitting. You need to do something about this first thing tomorrow. Period.
     
  7. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Sep 26, 2010

    She needs to go. I know you likely feel for her because of her health issues, but she sounds dangerous to the kids. And not just the popping them, but emotionally she can't be helping. I would go to administration, and right now. It is your classroom and your kids, and you are responsible for their well-being. You are also in danger of getting into a lot of trouble by allowing her to continue doing what she's doing. So, not only is it bad for your kids, this is bad for you. I'm not sure where you teach, but in California we had to sign the constitution and agree to report any signs of abuse (I'm sure most states do this-or I assume they do; as for other countries, I am not sure what they do). Whether or not you want to call the ruler popping abuse or not, it is physical, and should not be happening. Also, if she's telling the kids they can't learn something, then they will believe it and just give up. What she is doing is wrong, wrong, wrong. She doesn't have to like you or the way you conduct your classroom, but you have reasons for managing your class the way you do, and as your aide she must abide by that. You run the show, not her. It's time say good-bye to that lady.
     
  8. pinkrobots27

    pinkrobots27 Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2010

    I understand that. And I think I've made it clear that I'm going to take care of it. I don't like being made to feel as if I am negligent. I came to the board for advice not for more criticism. I already have a very heavy heart about all of this.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 26, 2010

    I'm not saying you are negligent. How are you planning on 'taking care of it'? I don't think you said.
    Regardless of how 'toxic' a school environment is, professional educators are mandated reporters who MUST legally and ethically do what they can to alert the proper authorities of abuse. Any advice you are given about behavior management systems or laying out your aide's duties must be secondary to this. Good luck to you.
     
  10. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Find a union rep to help you out. They'd take care of a physical abuse situation real quick.
     
  11. pinkrobots27

    pinkrobots27 Rookie

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    Right and I said that I would. You've made your point clear and I'm in agreement with you. I didn't feel comfortable posting the detailed actions I plan to take because I do know many teachers at my school frequent teacher forums/chat boards for references/advice and my school is already under fire for things outside my control (admin issues).

    The reason I asked about behavior management systems/duties is because I am sure I will be working with this assistant in the future.
     
  12. pinkrobots27

    pinkrobots27 Rookie

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    Sep 26, 2010

    Good point.
     
  13. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Sep 26, 2010

    I don't have any advice, but I just wanted to say your situation really stinks. I know I dealt with a really bad sub for my aide all week that was doing a lot of things yours is doing (minus the hitting). Luckily, it was just a sub, and I have very supportive admin, so she has been removed. But I can tell you I totally understand how you feel. I was literally sick to my stomach thinking about it. I hope things get better :)
     

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