paraprofessionals?

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by jnation, Jun 2, 2005.

  1. jnation

    jnation Companion

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    Jun 2, 2005

    I will have two paraprofessionals in my classroom when I start in August. I only have six students. I was just wondering what others have paraprofessionals do in their classroom. Duties? Responsibilities? Any and all help will be appreciated. I'm also concerned because I will be much younger than the paraprofessionals. In the past, I have had trouble "supervising" people who were older than me, who did not think I was qualified simply due to my being younger than them. I want to avoid any and all power struggles due to age problems. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance!
    Jen
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jun 2, 2005

    Just a question - why will you have 2 paras with only 6 kids? Is it a self-contained special needs classroom?
     
  4. jnation

    jnation Companion

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    Sorry for the lack of information. It is a self-contained classroom for students with emotional/behavioral disorders that have recently been brought back to the public school from the alternative school.
     
  5. mommaruthie

    mommaruthie Aficionado

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    Then with what you have said, the paraprofessionals are not there for YOU, but instead, for a child who may need to be tube fed, or who by law has been entitled to the paraprofessional services for ONE on ONE. By no means should you ask your para to do any copying or clerical work. Use them as they were intended to work one on one. (paras are not required to have education degrees so you dont know if they are able to do any tasks such as reading group.) Find out what each of your child's needs and service entitlements are and meet with the paras to review your needs from them.
     
  6. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Jun 3, 2005

    Jen,

    I like you am a young teacher in self-contained classroom--I have 2 paraprofessionals, and 4 students. and Yes, we DO need the hands!!! Good you're thinking about it now, b/c if you can clearly outline their duties for them beforehand, there is less confusion for all involved. My sped director reminds us often: paraprofessionals may not provide INITIAL INSTRUCTION in anything, but they may and should do reinforcement instruction and support--you have them because you need hands.

    I know all situations are different, here's what my paras do, it can get your ideas flowing:

    morning circle: they sit in the circle with the students, provide communication supports, behavioral reminders, and collect data for me on certain behaviors, etc.

    breakfast: they help with set-up, feeding, clean-up (we all do)

    work time: with 3 adults and 4 kids, I can have 1:1 time with my kids every day. we split up for an hour, and I prepare data sheets and activities, I train my paras in each activity, and then each of us takes 1 or 2 students and does a 15-minute activity (teh limit of my kids' attention spans) then we rotate, so i see every child one-on-one or one-on-two, and they are occcupied in meaningful work when i'm not with them also.

    toileting--we take turns, it has to be done! I train/develop procedures, they inform me of anything that i need to know, take data on what they do

    walks: all my kids do PT/walking/stretching both wtih the physical therapist and with classroom staff--we all work on that

    lunchtime--againm help with setup/cleanup/feeding

    group circle times--assist with communication support and keeping kids in the circle and paying attention

    art/table projects--my kids lal need one-on-one asssistance for htat stuff, we use all hands!!

    you get the idea. My rule, which I make clear to my paras, I will NEVER ask them to do anything I am not willing to do myself--and I will do it. ie, they don't do my "dirty work."

    if you have specific expectations, make sure they know them, and above all, establish as early as possible a clear line of COMMUNICATION.

    i've been fortunate to have 2 awesome paraprofessionals this year. we are a team. Good luck with your team!
     
  7. jnation

    jnation Companion

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    Jun 3, 2005

    Thanks so much for your reply!! It really gave me an idea of how paras can be an integral part of the classroom. My kids are in grades 3-5 so I'm sure their ability levels will be very different. My idea is to divide the class in half, especially for reading instruction, I will work with one group while the other are practicing previously learned skills through center activities. I thought the paras could help them with these activities and assist as needed while I taught the other group. Does this seem like a good idea? I know that in my particular district the paras follow the students to PE, music, and any other "special" activities which I am not required to go to. Is this the same where you teach?
    Thanks again for the reply...I need as much help as I can get!
     
  8. wordy

    wordy Rookie

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    Jun 4, 2005

    i also taught in a self contained sped classroom with one para. it sounds to me like you have a great plan fo rhow to use your paras! i had language and content centers for kids while i was doing reading groups. she was fantastic and oversaw the centers. i always kept a notebook by the centers with simple outlines of instructions for her to refer to if she got confused. i also listed the objectives of the centers, so she knew what the purpose was, and could assist them without doing the work for them. she also gave the spelling test in the center time.
    during any whole group instruction, she montiored behaviors. sometimes i might ask her to take a student or two for a walk (if they were starting to escalate). she was so good, she could anticipate their needs.
    in both districts ive worked in, the paras do attend specials with the kids and the teacher is allowed to use that as prep time. to be honest, sometimes i went too. you will know if your kids are having a rough day, and then an extra set of hands is a good thing. you may find that some specials teachers are more flexible with your kids and don't need you, while others do.
    i'm sure you'll love this! good luck:)
     
  9. TeachWildThings

    TeachWildThings Comrade

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    Jun 4, 2005

    A guideline of their duties is essential. Do not forget to check with the district on their policy as well. Most para's have a union & you will also need to account for their breaks & list of duties they are allowed to perform. ALSO, & this is very important for ED students returning to school, make sure you know your districts regulations on the physical handling of these children. Most SELPA organizations will have training available for restraining students who may be at risk of harming themselves and others. You & your staff need to know how to protect yourselves & students both physically & legally. I don't want to scare you, but in any special ed environment (preK on up) the likelyhood of a child becoming out of control is always there. Just remember "an once of prevention.....;)
     
  10. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    Jun 4, 2005

    my paras also go to specials with the kids, yes (and some days i go too--AND i learned that it is essential to go early on and observe what exactly goes on in specials, so that when you are not there, you can give your paras ideas on how to deal with issues that may arise).

    the reading centers idea sounds good
     
  11. HMD

    HMD Rookie

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    Jun 9, 2005

    I am looking into a paraprofessional job in the special ed arena. I do not have experience in the area. I feel that I really want to help the kids that need the most help and eventually want to teach. Right now I am considering a para position to get a feel for the work and for employment while pursuing teaching certification.

    That being said, are there some good resources for me to get some basic knowledge on working with special ed kids? I am considering applying for a local school district that wants an ESL aide, an ED/BD aide and an LD aide. None require any experience. I'd just like to learn a bit on my own so I can really stand out as an applicant.

    Great thread so far- I am learning already.
     
  12. ~Teacher~

    ~Teacher~ Rookie

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    Jun 9, 2005

    Paras clearly carry out the duties a classroom teacher specify....they can do teaching if the classroom teacher is in the room can't they?

    I was a para, but also a qualified teacher so I was assigned many duties to do..
     
  13. TeachWildThings

    TeachWildThings Comrade

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    Jun 10, 2005

    Each district determines their own policy. Some say a teacher always has to be present, others don't. Some have you run centers, others have you involved in modifying curriculum, sometimes you are required at IEP's other times they don't want you anywhere near one.

    HMD, what ages are you looking at? If very young (preK-1st) or severe you will be required to help with toileting/diapers. Mostly you are redirecting behaviors, helping students stay on task and giving direct instruction where determined by the teacher. You may work one on one which will come with very specific duties for that child. Your local SELPA organization &/or Regional Center will have resources. Also check out Easter Seals, they can steer you toward local agencies that could provide you with info. Talk to teachers, O.T.'s & other paras. That was my best resource! On the Net you will find lots of info on symptomology, conditions & disorders. (NORD, National Organization of Rare Disorders, has links as well) This is good background info to have. Much success, spe ed is a very rewarding field.
     
  14. HMD

    HMD Rookie

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    Jun 10, 2005

    I'm not sure what age group I'd like the most. As much as I love my young son (he's 7), I think I would prefer an older age group. I find myself drawn to middle/high school in my mind, but I think I need to test the waters, so to speak.

    I used to think I'd like teaching a regular ed middle school classroom or Spanish at the high school level. Then I kept seeing how much spec ed teachers were needed. By and large, I want to teach to help kids. And the more I think about it, the more I feel sure that I want to help these kids who need it the most.

    I am applying at two different schools that are looking for special ed paras. Both schools are high schools. This way I can see it firsthand and determine if I like that age group and spec ed in general. I have no training yet in this area so I am hoping to learn some on my own, work as a para and then possibly get certified to teach (after some post-bacc studies so I DO know something!)

    a few questions (for now, bound to be more later):
    Does a mild/moderate special needs certification cover all areas of special ed? If you get sped certified, can you work with any type of sped problem or do you need to pick one area on which to focus?

    Thanks for the resources. I will check them out!
     
  15. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jun 10, 2005

    It depends on your state as far as sp. ed certification... IL has certification in Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Visual Impairments, and then what they call LBS I and LBS II... the LBS is more or less a title for "all other" disabilities... I think I is "less severe" and II is "more severe," which we all know is kind of subjective anyway... I think most people do LBS I, which will allow them to do LD, BD, autism, pull-outs, inclusion, etc.

    Perhaps someone with more knowledge of specifics in MA will be able ot help you. ;)
     
  16. pattyanne

    pattyanne Rookie

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    Jun 19, 2005


    Hi Jen!
    I teach paraprofessionals here in Australia. They undertake a two year part time course to graduate with a Certificate 3 in Education Support. Here are some points the students have made to me over the years which you may find useful:

    * it is important that the teacher and the paras are clear about their duties - a job description from the school should be a good starting point
    * teachers and paras need to have clearly defined ways in which to communicate - this is important for the students as well as the adults. If time for meetings is hard to manage, make sure you have other systems in place such as pigeon hole messages, communication book, etc.
    * teachers and paras should have clearly defined areas of responsibility in terms of behaviour management, etc.
    * in a good working relationship, the teacher and paras treat each other with respect and courtesy - from which friendship often develops. If this happens, 'supervision' is not really needed.
    * paras need information about students - especially the ones for whom they are primarily responsible. Many paras complain that teachers don't tell them about the students and their needs, leaving the paras to guess what to do.
    * a good team builds on each others strengths and compensates for each others weaknesses. If one is having a bad day, the other/s support him/her.
    * a good working relationship does not leave all the worst jobs to the paras! This may be hard to avoid due to timetabling and teaching responsibilities, but it is important that paras don't feel they are just being "used".
    * many paras have skills and abilities that can enhance the classroom environment - I've had wonderful artists and musicians (I am neither!) who have enhanced my classrooms enormously!
    * as with parenting, it is important to present a united front to the students. If you and the para disagree, do so in private.
    * sort out any disagreements or differences of opinion before these become entrenched or bad feelings develop.

    I love working with paras and I hope you will too. Many teachers feel "on show" if there is someone in their classroom (some even feel threatened) but the best approach is to be grateful for the extra help, the second pair of hands and the support! The load for you is much easier if you have a capable para (or more than one). Good Luck!
     
  17. Jan P.

    Jan P. Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2005

    I wouldn't let the age thing worry you. I would think that these paraprofessionals are there to truly help the child, so they will need to know the rules and schedule for doing that. I am close to being middle-age (even though I feel like a teenager at times!), and as long as the younger person who is my leader treats me with respect then I am fine with following their directions.

    Jan P.
     
  18. MzB

    MzB Rookie

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    Jul 18, 2005

    I'm about to start my first year teaching in August. I'll have a CSEP (Comprehensive Special Education Program) self-contained class, with 4 boys, all in wheelchairs (I think). I'll have a para, and one of my boys has a private duty nurse(who can do NO instruction at all), and one MAY have an aide.

    One thing that I learned from my experiences in school and working with a para during student teaching, is that each person is going to be different, and its up to you to build that relationship. The para in the class I worked with has been a para FOREVER, so she could teach the class if the teacher was out with no problem. She didn't mind making copies and things like that. But, the para around the corner did the bare minimum that her job requires. Its all relative.

    Another thing is that there is a difference between a para and an aide. The student that will have an aide in my class is to assist him with little things. It is nOT to be his teacher. Sometimes I've heard of teachers almost alienating the student with an aide because they figure, that's the aide's job to teach the student. But its not, and aide's job is to AID, not do everything. Its a good idea to have the aide work with other studnets in the class too sometimes, so you can make sure you, as the teacher, work with ALL students in your class. Using the aide to work in centers or something is a good idea too.

    I KNOW I'll have a problem if I have a para that is much older than me, because I won't feel right telling someone older than me what to do. I mean, if she's like up to 30, maybe 35, I'll maybe be ok, but older than that, and I'll feel funny. I guess I have to get over it though lol.
     
  19. Dee452

    Dee452 Comrade

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    Jul 18, 2005

    As the title states ParaProfessional. Most are professional and know their job. All of the paraprofessionals that I have known that worked with Special children are truly special themselves in being able to deal with the children.

    Just make sure you know what the limitations to what they are required to do.
     
  20. jenglish97

    jenglish97 Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2005

    I always sit down with my paraprofessionals before schools starts to talk to them about what is expect of me and of them in the classroom. I always make sure my paraprofessionals are working with the children and not asked to copy things and collate. They are not there to do that.

    If you have a child that requires a dedicated aide - (one-on-one), mkae sure she/he know what is expected of them when working withteh children. I tell my aides that we are working on independent life skills and need to back off a little bit so that the child can learn how to care for him/her self. Tell the paraprofessionals that you will communicate with the parents. I have a few the take role of speaking to the parents. That is not their job. I have a difficult time with that. I tell them that I am responsible for the children's IEP's and that communication should be between the teacher, parents and CST (Child Study Team)...

    I have been very lucky to have wonderful paraprofessionals. COMMUNICATION is very important. Make sure that they know that and that you are in charge of the class and they should follow what you are doing.
     
  21. gkmoffitt

    gkmoffitt Rookie

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    Jul 23, 2005

    I will have 2 para's in my classroom and what I have heard from the principal is that they have been doing this for years (16 to be exact). So they know the children. This is a good thing, but just like Jen I do not want to step on any toes. I am not that young...46 now... So it sounds like my para's are probably my age. This should be an interesting year!
    I was a Teacher assistant for 4 yrs in an ED self-contained classroom in a middle school in Texas. During that time I did all sorts of things: I copied materials, set up IEP meetings, called parents for meetings, helped write lesson plans, taught some classes. I taught when the teacher was absent.
    The difference there was that I had a great relationship with the teacher and we co-taught. I still talk and write to her and we have not worked with each other in over 10 yrs. I consider her my mentor. I learned alot from her.
    It all depends on what the para is wanting to do as well. If there attitude is to do very little...then that is exactly what they will do.
    If there are in there to teach and help the kids..then they will do that if the teacher gives them that freedom. I usually assisted the kids on reading things. If i ever taught anything the teacher was right there in the room to assist me.
    I am hoping that my new assistants and I will have a great working relationship. This makes the year go so much better when we all get along!
     
  22. chava_1908

    chava_1908 Rookie

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    hey gkmoffett,
    I have subbed in an alternative school for the past 2 years. In response to your post, para's have several tasks to perform. At my school, para's take roll, submit attendance forms, grade papers, assist students to all their outside of class activities, write referals and behavioral assessment forms, escort students to drill instructors, and any other duty that the teacher would have them perform. Teachers and para's should have an understanding and agreement that whatever rules, procedures, and classroom management plans they agreed to should be enforced with NO exceptions. Please have your para's to gain respect and classroom management skills so that they will be able to control the class in your absence or just going to the restroom...feel free to email me to discuss in detail.
     
  23. tx ppcd

    tx ppcd Rookie

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    Jul 25, 2005

    I am starting a new school teaching early childhood special ed. This will be my sixth year. My experience with aides/paras are they are either good or bad--no in between. My first two years, I had the aide from hell. She had been there 20+ years, thought she was the teacher, old enough to be my mother, stuck in her ways, did not want to adapt to my way of teaching--she even reported me to our supervisor!! On the days she would be absent, I would be overjoyed. One summer, I had the pleasure of working with an aide from heaven. She always was with me and the class, on time, worked well with the kids, followed directions, the PERFECT assistant. Short-lived because it was only six weeks of summer school. We hoped for a miracle that somehow we could stay together--didn't happen. On to my school I was at three years--another aide not quite from hell but close. She was an excellent worker but the idea of working under a teacher was something she could not handle. We sort of tolerated each other three years. She was all I had and she did have some good qualities, but could be difficult to work with. Now I am moving on to my new adventure and have found out my assistant has been there forever, does not have good attendance, etc., etc. So after five years I have learned that I will CLEARLY STATE EXPECTATIONS and hopes she rises to the occassion; but I have to remember my main job is to the CHILDREN and I have learned to conduct my class with or without full cooperation from my assistant!! Just my experience, bless you all who have good paras and I will pray for the ones who have to suffer!! Have a good year! LOL
     
  24. jenglish97

    jenglish97 Devotee

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    Jul 26, 2005

    tx ppcd-

    I am sorry that you have not had a decent aide. It can be tough at times. A lot of my my paras have been much older than me and could be my mother. I have been very fortunante to be able to be the teacher and have them follow my lead. Hopefully you will have some good paras coming your way very soon. It is true that your main job is to be their for hte children regardless of your experiences with your paras. YOu have hte support from me and I hope you have agood year too.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2005
  25. chava_1908

    chava_1908 Rookie

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    Aug 1, 2005

    hey jnation,
    just a tip, as a substitute teacher in an alternative setting for the past 2 years PLEASE have your paraprofessionals to be very firm with the students at first then as the year progresses and you all learn the students letting up a little bit will be fine!
     
  26. chava_1908

    chava_1908 Rookie

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    Aug 1, 2005

    hey jnation,
    just a tip, as a substitute teacher in an alternative setting for the past 2 years PLEASE have your paraprofessionals to be very firm with the students at first then as the year progresses and you all learn the students letting up a little bit will be fine!
     
  27. geode97

    geode97 Guest

    Aug 3, 2005

    similar situation

    I am teaching an autistic s.c. class with 5 students (k-3) and 3 paras. I am not a new teacher but I am very young and new to the school. I have been told by many teachers and parents of my students that my paras are very set in their ways. The classroom I'm taking over has had 5 teachers in the past 4 years. So, it needs strong leadership, but I'm not sure how to get the para's to do what I need them to do and not take over my classroom. One in particular has already told me "the way things should be" in the room. We start school on monday and I really need to know how to convey to them that we are a team but that I am ultimately in charge of the classroom and the student's instruction. Thanks.
     
  28. chava_1908

    chava_1908 Rookie

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    Aug 3, 2005

    Geode97, in response to your similar situation posting, I have been doing homework before school starts on teacher-paraeducator collaborations and I came upon these resources...hope they are helpful
    Gerlach, K. (2001). Let’s Team Up! A Checklist for Paraeducators, Teachers, and
    Principals. Washington, D.C.: National Education Association.
    Northeast Regional Resource Center (www.wested.org/nerrc/paraprofessionals.htm)
    National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (www.nrcpara.org)
    The Para Center at the University of Colorado at Denver (www.paracenter.org)
    Email: info@paracenter.org Phone: 303.556.6464
    Paraeducator Support (http://www.uvm.edu/~cdci/parasupport/) and Paraeducator Training at the University of Vermont (http://www.uvm.edu/~cdci/paraprep/) are companion projects designed to develop, implement and evaluate a model for effective use of paraeducators and improvement of training through model preservice and inservice programs.
    A Resource Guide for Integrating Teacher Aides into Lesson Plans (http://www.spannj.org/information/teacheraideslessons-ResourceGuide.doc) developed by Newark Public Schools provides a detailed overview of the requirements of NCLB, integrated lesson plans, behavior management plans, and collaboration tips.
    References
    Caroll, D. (2001). Considering paraeducator training, roles, and responsibilities.
    Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(2), 60-64.
    French, N. (2003). Managing paraeducators in your school. Thousand Oaks, CA:
    Corwin Press.
    French, N.K. (2002). Maximize paraprofessional services for students with learning
    disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 38(1), 50-55.
    Giangreco, M. F. (2001). A guide to schoolwide planning for paraeducator supports.
    Center on Disability and Community Inclusion: University of Vermont. Retrieved Feb.
    7, 2005 from http://www.uvm.edu/~cdci/parasupport/downloa ds/guide.pdf.
    Giangreco, M.F. (2003). Working with paraprofessionals. Educational Leadership,
    61(2), 50-53.
    Montana Office of Public Instruction. (2004). Paraprofessional orientation guide.
    Retrieved Feb 14, 2005 from
    http://www.opi.state.mt.us/PDF/CSPD/ParaOrientMan.pdf.
    National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities. (1999). Learning disabilities: Use of
    paraprofessionals. Asha 41. Retrieved 2/7/05 from http://www.ldonline.org/njcld/
    paraprof298.html.
     

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