Working with paraprofessionals in the classroom

Discussion in 'Preschool' started by jteach89, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. jteach89

    jteach89 Companion

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    Nov 25, 2015

    Hey everyone, its been a while since ive been on here but really could use some advice. This may be a lot but if anyone takes the time to read this i really REALLY appreciate it.

    Im currently a upk teacher, and Im having a hard time dealing and working with a para in my classroom. This is my third year teaching, and the para has not had ANY prior experience working in a pre-k setting. This is my para and myself second year teaching prek. While I do feel she has gotten better, I personally not sure if Pre-k is the right setting for her. At times my frustrations comes out on her. (which I do feel badly). I feel like I have to do SO much modeling, and explain EVERYTHING bit by bit. After a while it gets annoying and exhausing.

    What I've decided to do this year is ,I created her own book wtih resources, songs, the schedule and things required of a para to do. What I also do is LIST her responsibilites by schedule of the day and things that may need to be done. I also decided to give her some students that she would focus on and assist with their needs during center time or other parts of the day. I list what she should look for with these students, i even list generallized things required of her for the day.

    I never thought I would micromanage but I do with her lol. She has no experience, which makes it hard. And her personality I feel is not fit for this environment. Every day I feel like I have to constantly remind her of what to do, how to do it, and so on. Even with the written list. She has gotten better since last year, her confidence is up but I just feel like there is some tenstion between us. She is really nice, and tries so so hard but im not sure what to do. When I go to meetings everyone says how their para's really are in tune with the teacher, and how they are a great team. And how the para can "lead the room". I don't feel confident in her ability to "lead the room". I really need her help and support with the students. I know as the lead teacher majority of the responsibilty is mine, but sometimes I get frustrated because I feel like her focus is not where it should be. Right now I have a small amout of students but with 18 four year olds, I need a strong person. At times I wish I had a co-teacher and not a person with no classroom experience.

    Can anyone offer some advice? I know people have to start from somewhere but its really frustrating when you have people with no experience and not the right personality. So how can I make this classroom "marriage" work?
     
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  3. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Nov 28, 2015

    That's hard.
    I know when I first started, I was pretty shy, but after a couple months, I got the routine down & I knew what I was doing.
    This is her second year; She should know what needs to be done. Is she doing what you wrote down in the book/list you made for her?
    Maybe you should have a meeting with her. If she's really trying hard but still isn't getting it, maybe teaching isn't right for her or maybe Pre-K isn't right for her.
     
  4. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Nov 28, 2015

    Could she be intimidated or afraid to make a mistake? I worked as a para for about 7 years before taking on my own classroom. For me, it helped to get to know my teacher as a person rather than a supervisor. I needed to know that she made mistakes too. Hearing that student at times challenged her helped me. I needed to feel like she saw me as a team member and not a servant. I say this because (having worked on both sides) I know there is a tendency for teachers to unintentionally think of their para's as less than or just another student to deal with. The subtle message is sent that they are "Just an aide" through the teachers mannerism and interactions. Having had a former teacher who micromanaged things TO DEATH. I can tell you that it is hard to take the initiative or feel confident when you feel that your every move is being managed and planned out. It is possible to micromanage something to the point of those being managed become debilitated.
    Teachers (myself included) are control freaks and perfectionist to the point where are it can be unhealthy. The hardest thing to realize is that there are strange people out there who don't think and act this way. Have you considered sitting down with her and asking her where she is struggling or where she feels she needs more help/training? Self assessment is just as powerful to grown-ups as it is for students.
     
  5. jteach89

    jteach89 Companion

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    Nov 28, 2015

    Thank you so much Child Whisperer and Justwanttoteach for responding. Yes I feel like I have been transparent with her. I admit that im not perfect and how I could have handled some things differently. That goes towards students and towards our interactions on things througout the day. And I have told her many times that I know that our titles are different on paper but she is the teacher too. And I still feel like she has a hard time wrapping around that. I believe she is also intimidated. She will even hold on to that idea that "im just the aide" and yet will want to "teach" the students. Even when I let her "teach" I have to correct and/or model to her on how to do it. I feel like she isnt a team member but more like a servant. I really like the idea of asking her where do you think you can see room for improvement. I don't want her to feel like everything she does is wrong, and I want her to know that her role is just as important. But I feel like im teaching her on top of teaching four year olds.

    I use to work in envrionments where I was micromanaged as well and I hated it. And I remember feeling like every moved I was being watched. But I had to learn and I took initiative.

    I just remember last year I felt like I did everything for the sake of her being new, and rather quiet. Even when it came to discplining the kids. But this year I refuse to do everything, I was on the verge of burning out last year. She often will second guess herself and sometimes I just want her to do it. Idk if its our personalites. I'm more of a just do it type of person, shes more of a like "I'll let them do it" type of person. Making a list does ease my anxiety about her in the room, but I also feel she doesnt like it and doesnt refer to it as much. I need someone who is a team player, who is not a servant, who is on the same page when it comes to the students and interacting with them. I know she is fairly new and has no experience but I need her support. I will ask her what areas does she think she can improve on, and that we can work together on it.

    Thanks soo much for the feedback! :)
     
  6. justwanttoteach

    justwanttoteach Cohort

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    Nov 28, 2015

    Maybe make a list of what is working for you with her and what is not working. Then maybe have her do the same and compare?
     
  7. jteach89

    jteach89 Companion

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    Nov 29, 2015

    That sounds like a good idea. I think we need to communicate more on whats working as a team and whats not working. Maybe a quick daily meeting in the mornings and then have a about a 10 minute team meeting once a week. We do communicate once a week about general things but I will try to be consistent.
     

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