Paraprofessional/Aide help!!!!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mrs100, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2007

    I have a full time aide in my room this year to help with one particular student (I think she prefers the term 'paraprofessional'). This student is not diagnosed with any disorders, but is really, really low in just about everything and really, really slow. So he needs an aide. The problem is that my aide is completely lacking in any independence. She is constantly asking questions. I get asked the same questions every single day. I have lost so much time just trying to get her to work with this student. At first, she was doing everything for him, and I asked her to let him try to do it on his own (he wants to try). Then she completely stopped doing anything for him. I had to ask her to help him with cutting. I've given her a copy of the IEP and it is very specific about what she should be doing. But she asks me about EVERY single sentence!!! To make matters worse, she shushes my class!!! Drives me crazy. She'll clear her throat at students, and now at me to let me know that someone's hand is raised. My question is (and it sometimes just helps to vent) what do I do? I hate to bug the principal with this, but she's slowing us down and using up my plan time. Would it be wrong of me to ask her not to shush my class? I don't want to cross lines and look like I just can't get along with my aide. Help!!!
     
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  3. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    Aug 29, 2007

    Who is her supervisor? If this aide is from the special ed department, maybe her supervisor can do some training or help you figure out the best way to teach her how to do things.
     
  4. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Her supervisor would I think technically be our Cross Categorical teacher, and she has come in several times to ask me how she's doing. She is also extremely annoyed (as is the secretary, other aides in the building, and the librarian) by her constant questions. Is it okay for me to ask her not to shush my class?
     
  5. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Sit down and have a full planning meeting with your aide. Provide pencil and paper for her to write things down. Ask her what she wants, what she likes about the job so far, what she would like to do and how she prefers to get information to do her job correctly, etc. (ie, what working style would suit her best). Explain to her that you would like to set up some system that suits her so that she gets the information she needs but at the same time you need to focus on class work, etc (again, maybe a little more diplomatically). Let her know you are still available if she needs to ask questions, but you would like to answer as many right now and set up a system that might make things flow a little more efficient. As a team the two of you have to work together. Let her know you want teamwork and that you look forward to whatever it is you brainstormed and to the new year.

    Then maybe discuss writing up a checklist so that she knows each step. Ask if she wants a more clear table of some of the issues the student has and how you would like them handled. (IEPs are confusing). Ask if she would like a clipboard and basket area for you to turn in "to do lists." Ask that she hold all questions about any single item until an appropriate time then you will gladly answer. Set up those appropriate times if needed.

    Your aide sounds very unsure of herself. She sounds paranoid that she is going to make a huge mistake or cross the line with you. Personally, the hand raised throat clearing is not a big deal. She does think she is helping you. One of my main jobs IS classroom management. I fell into it. It is considered appropriate in my class to ssshhh them. You don't know what her expectations and previous vision of what this job is until you've discussed it with her.

    FYI, I designed a para/teacher communication PP based on some research from para handbooks online. One of the things in it includes a whole list of duties that aides perform in different schools. I wanted the teachers to see that if some of the things shocked them (and some don't apply to our school), then to understand that everybody comes with a different set of expectations, experiences, philosophys and ideas of what this job is. It is very flexible. The number one advice is to do what I just told you but expand it even more and create an individualized flexible (can change throughout the year) job description for the aide based on both the teacher and aide's needs. This aide is unsure of her place and seems to want to help. She isn't intuitive to your needs and you have to take the initiative to sit down and provide feedback and find a solution that works for the both of you. It's hard coming into someone else's classroom.
     
  6. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    If the ssshh thing is annoying to you, it is perfectly acceptable to ask her to stop. I would wait until you've discussed everything else and include it in your needs and expectations.

    Having said everything I did, if after a month she is still constantly asking questions document it along the way and your response (not individual questions, basic observations). Then you can approach the supervisor with more help and that you've tried to help her ease her concerns and lessen her need to ask constant questions.

    I like Paraprofessional too. I'm a teacher's aide and I always feel like someone "owns" me. Especially when someone says, "can I borrow your aide" without ever looking at me or asking me and then doing a motion with the hands. I would say yes, but it would be courteous to ask!! Unfortunately in sign language there is no word for paraprofessional.
     
  7. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    I think you're right in that she may think she's helping! I feel terrible pointing out any things that I would like changed because she takes it so personally. She is a retired music teacher, and she may not even notice that she's shushing the class. Sometimes I just get done saying to the class that they may talk while they work, they start to talk, and she shushes them. I just said it was okay! I've also started documenting things. I wanted to be sure I wasn't blowing this out of proportion in my head.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 30, 2007

    Sit down with your para and the IEP. She could have been put off by your initial directiive to not do everything for the student so now needs reassurance about what to do. Explain to her you want to make sure that our are both working as a team for the benefit of this student (and for the class as well). Go line by line through the IEP explaining what her responsibilities are. After the IEP give her a summary of your classroom philosophy and management- address things like noise level, wait time and your position of authoirty. Then if things don't get better quickly after your 'sitdown', tell her supervisor (the cross categorical teacher??)
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Also remember that while you have to decide how much of the annoyances you can live with, do realize that some things are better left alone. Keep in mind that while as a teacher, you are expected to provide feedback for your para (even if it is akward and hard), your para will have things that you do that annoy the hell out of her as well and she won't have the same freedom due to boundaries. I do think the sshh thing may be one of the things you can't live with. I'm just letting you see the other perspective especially when you do sit down and have a discussion. I didn't realize she was a retired teacher. That alone would be hard to know where to step and where the line is. If you've been doing it for so long, it's hard to sit back and not take control of some stuff. Heck, I'm not a teacher yet and I have that problem too. I'm not surprised that she is insecure with the position, but I am surprised that she has to ask questions so many times. I can think of several possible reasons for that but I won't jump on that bandwagon for speculation.

    You do want to be clear about your position of authority (without saying it quite like that) but you also want to project an atmosphere of teamwork. Promote her value and stress the things she is good at and she will probably try to stick to those things more. Then project your authority over the things you would prefer she stay away from. You want her to feel good about herself because then she will be more open to listening to what you have to say. This is the reason I suggest that your conversation not be all one sided. You need to clear the air and let her know your expectations, but you also have to build a relationship of cooperative trust as well.
     
  10. mrs100

    mrs100 Comrade

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    Aug 31, 2007

    I made a list of all the things that are eating up my time due to her questions or habits, because I was thinking the same thing - Am I blowing this out of proportion in my head, and making a big deal out of silly little things? But now the problem is that I pretty much have a line out my door of other teachers who want to know what her deal is. She is constantly asking other teachers the same questions she asks me, and they are running out of patience. My new problem is that she called a parent without my permission. She set off a domino effect of concern that has spread so far. The child she is there for forgot his Homework folder, no big deal, we'll survive. She decided to call home for it without telling me what she was doing. She called Mom at home, then Dad at work! I know these parents very well - I had their son last year, and they panicked because I never bug parents during the day unless its an email. I also caught her copying down parent email addresses off of my computer. Big problem. We're meeting today, so we'll see how it goes. I know she means well, and that makes it hard. I'm very nonconfrontational, so I want to do it as nicely as possible and word things so that she doesn't feel the need to apologize constantly. Wish me luck!
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    This is a BIG problem now. The shusshing and the questions are annoying, yes. BUT calling a parent and getting emails from your computer is overstepping. I would confront her with this, tell her she breached the trust you were hoping to build in the class room and then I really think perhaps you should ask for a different para. Doesn't your building have training for paras? She should have known this was unacceptable.
     
  12. Miss_snugs

    Miss_snugs Rookie

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    Aug 31, 2007

    Yikes...you do have a problem now. I would sit down with her and clearly spell out what you expect from her. I have been an aid in a special ed classroom so I know what it can be like. Sit down with her and go throughh the IEP. While you may think that things are clear as to what support he needs from an aide, it may not be to her. IEP's are not the easiest thing to read. I am sorry you are going through this and I hope things get cleared up when you meet with her. Good Luck!
     
  13. roamer

    roamer Companion

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    Aug 31, 2007

    I, too, agree that you have a problem. I've been an aide for the past 3+ years (just had to quit to do my student teaching). BTW, I prefer "aide". "Paraprofessional" sounds like "less than a professional" to me. I am an aide. I aid the teacher and the students.

    Anyway. It's difficult to come into a classroom as an aide not knowing what is expected. I've worked with 9 different teachers and every one of them had different expectations from me. Some worked with me and allowed me to do what my job required (small-group work with students identified as needing remedial reading/phonics lessons). Some wanted me to grade papers and stuff folders (something our principal said I was NOT there to do). One just wanted me to leave her and her students alone.

    It sounds like the groundwork was not laid at the beginning of the year. Your aide doesn't know what is expected of her, and you two are stepping on each other's toes trying to feel out a system of working together. Sit down with her and tell her exactly what you need from her...and especially what you need for her NOT to do. I loved it when teachers did that for me.

    Good luck.
     
  14. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I do agree though that calling parents was overstepping. Believe it or not, that's actually a job duty many paras are permitted to have. The difference is, it has to be done WITH direct supervision. In my book, that includes asking permission to begin with. Maybe that is something she did for someone else before. It sounds to me like she's been in the profession quite a while and hasn't figured out how to switch roles completely. She also doesn't sound very intuitive or trained on para roles. She likely does need it spelled out very clearly. If she is bugging everybody else too, she may not be cut out anymore. Go through the steps though, be respectful, be clear with your communication, be fair (and sometimes forgiving) and train her how you want her to work in the classroom. After you've tried all that, you have recourse. Do document and report the parent calling incident though.

    Roamer: I wouldn't mind Aide if it didn't come with "Teacher's" in front of it. The apostrophe I swear has teachers around me feeling posessive and like they can pass me around without ever even so much as asking me politely if I mind. Also I do sooo much more than an Aide's position. The counselor today recommended me to the Principal to apply for teaching next year and go to school at the same time (not sure if that is doable, but a nice compliment). The bottom line though, I expect others to treat me respectfully. Given that, I give my all and more. Mostly I get too motivated. I love it.
     

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