Working With Paras
1st year teaching- 0 paras
2nd year teaching- 3 paras rotated between 3 resource teachers
3rd and 4th year (self contained)- 4-5 paras full time in my room.
So I had a bit of a learning curve when I moved to a Self Contained classroom and found myself with 4 paras in my room all day. When I was a resource teacher, our team leader made the paras schedule and they were pulled all the time to cover if there was no sub available so I was largely unprepared for 4 paras in my room looking at me for instructions. There were definitely some bumps at the beginning. Weather your a new teacher or a veteran, I think we are always looking for ideas on how to make working with paras smoother.
Play to each paras strengths- I had one who was very artistic and crafty so she ran my art center. I had another who was really good at working on academics so she worked with them on reviewing skills. Another was really good 1-1 so she worked with some of my kiddos that needed that extra attention. I try to play to their natural strengths when I’m planning so that nobody is stuck working on something they don’t understand or don’t enjoy.
Don’t be afraid to change things if you need to- My first year in self contained I was afraid to change things that weren’t working because I didn’t want it to seem like I didn’t have a plan. But once I admitted that I was still feeling things out and gave myself permission to change things everything got a little easier.
Clearly define the paras role in YOUR room- What are your expectations of them in the classroom and with students. A coworker gave me a great piece of advice about defining job roles: “If you can’t clearly articulate it, you can’t expect it to be followed.” Which is so true!!
I saw these poster ideas on Facebook this summer and loved it so I’m working on something like this for my classroom. I especially love the Do’s and Don’ts part of each poster because I think it’s important for everyone to have clear ideas of what the goals are of each part of the day. If you use Boardmaker you can click the picture to download a copy of the posters. I don’t so I’m making my own. I’ll share when I’m finished.
I have some more ideas I’d like to share but I think I’ll come back to this later on. For now hop on over to Adventures in the ATC to check out her advice.