Managing assistants

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by Preschool0929, Aug 3, 2016.

  1. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    Aug 3, 2016

    I'm moving to a new school this year and did para interviews with my principal. The para we hired for my classroom has a great background and seemed really excited, but has never worked in public school or with spec.ed. before (which is fine, I'll train her). I met up with her a few days ago for the first time just to get to know each other outside of school and she went on and on about how she wanted to be a "co-teacher" instead of a para and didn't want to be seen as just an assistant. She was pretty insistent.

    I told her we would talk about our roles when school started, but I'm not sure what to say. As much as our paras in preschool are seen as teachers by the children, they aren't responsible for the entire classroom as a teacher is, and the position is just not one of a co-teacher.

    I've typed up a roles and responsibilities chart, as well as a copy of our para handbook that outlines her job duties. How should I present everything to her?
     
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  3. renard

    renard Companion

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    Aug 4, 2016

    Yikes. Well, I'm concerned about the hiring process here - if she hasn't worked in public school/SPED before, it should have been made clear to her what the job was (assistant, not teacher, bound by a professional scope of duty). I think this is an expectation that needs to be overtly clear, and if she can't accept it, a different direction in hiring needs to be made. This sounds like a bad hire to me.

    In a preschool, the children have no idea who is the actual teacher and who isn't. That's fine. The para needs to understand this though, for legal reasons that are obvious to you. Perhaps it's worth discussing these legal and professional boundaries in an explicit manner before she gets you in hot water by overstepping or worse.
     
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  4. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Aug 5, 2016

    Maybe talk about what your last assistant did and what he/she did that worked well and what did not.
    That way, you're kind of saying "remember you're the assistant" without actually saying it
     
  5. jeepgirlsrock

    jeepgirlsrock Rookie

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    Aug 6, 2016

    I'm wanting to follow this. My TA is used to worksheets, and the way the teacher who'd been teaching before me did things for 30+ years and when I was out decided to do Calendar and morning work differently and since I was a new teacher I fell into doing it her way because it was easier and I didn't want her fussing. This year I'm putting my foot down and not allowing worksheets for morning work and not relying on Starfall for Calendar. Good luck to you!!
     
  6. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Aug 6, 2016

    Do you have a copy of the district job description for paras? I would give her something created by the district instead of myself so I could explain it in a "the district expects this" type of way. You have to work with her all year. You don't want to start off on a bad foot if she thinks you are personally making all the rules.

    Preschool is way out of my league, but what types of things is she wanting to do that you are uncomfortable with? Students and parents need to view her as a person with equal authority. For example, if you have a sub one day and the para needs to contact a parent about behavior, the parent needs to know the para can do that.
     
  7. Preschool0929

    Preschool0929 Cohort

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    Aug 6, 2016

    Yes I have a copy of the district para job description I can give her. I think she has to sign that she's read it anyways.

    It's not really about being uncomfortable with things. Of course I want my students to see her as an equal teacher, but teaching special ed. preschool in a public school means that legally I'm responsible for the classroom. I think it's important for parents to know that distinction, as well as for her to understand, since legally I have to be the one to lesson plan, write/monitor goals, manage behavior protocols, etc...
     
  8. eyeteach

    eyeteach Rookie

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    Aug 7, 2016

    I am not help as every preschool that I have worked both teachers were treated as equals (co-teachers). As I stated above I do not have any experience with assistants, but wouldn't it make the classroom run more efficiently if both teachers shared the entire workload equally?
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 7, 2016

    Give her a copy of her job description. Reassure her that she is an important and integral member of the team while letting her know that you are ultimately and legally responsible do that she should always follow your lead.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
  10. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Aug 7, 2016

    You need to take care of this attitude immediately. It will be an uncomfortable conversation, but you need to be direct about telling her that the position is not a co-teaching position but an assistant position. Go over the handbook in detail with her and explain that although the children will see all adults as equal, legally you are in charge of the classroom an final decisions will be made by you. If I were you, I would end the conversation by saying something about how if she's not comfortable with being in the assistant role, you'll understand if she needs to find another position that better meets her needs. You don't want to give any impression at all that the position will change or that eventually you'll give her what she wants. If you're not really firm now, she'll always go back to, "I told you right from the start that I wanted to be a co-teacher, and you agreed with me!" (if you're silent about a topic, in the other person's mind you're agreeing with them).
     
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  11. Gimet

    Gimet Rookie

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    Aug 7, 2016

    Early Childhood Special Education is different than "preschool". The teacher is responsible for writing and implementing the IEP, collecting data, designing lessons to meet student's individual learning needs, etc. My assistants and I were a team (with related service providers also) but we all had different roles and responsibilities. Granted the students didn't know the roles or what our individual jobs were, but everyone else, including the parents did. I'm with Waterfall on this one, she had some good suggestions. Sorry you have to deal with this.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2016
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  12. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Aug 7, 2016

    Yeah, that's not how that works. My assistant and I are equal in the eyes of the children and some of their parents, but I am the one responsible for lesson plans, assessments, portfolios, parent/teacher conferences, going to IEP meetings, and doing other paperwork. If something isn't done or isn't done right, it's on me. We do switch off doing circle time or reading stories, but at the end of the day, I'm the lead teacher and she is the assistant, and our salaries reflect it as well.

    I have worked with co-teachers (we were both leads, no assistants) and that was an entirely different situation.
     

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