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Home Forums Career Path Suggestions on getting Paras working with you and not against you?

Suggestions on getting Paras working with you and not against you?

Posted by Teachwewa
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  • Teachwewa
    Classroom Teacher
    Teaching since: 1995
  • July 19, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    I have had trouble last year with one of my para causing trouble with my parents and not doing what I asked and not support from my principal. any suggestion as how I can start the year fresh and start on a new this year.

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  • Classroom Teacher
    2nd Grade
    Teaching since: 2012
  • July 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    I taught special ed for 3 years and supervised paras. Before that I was a Para for two years. Currently, I am teaching second grade, so I’ve seen this from most points of view. First, if you are the supervisor, make the expectation clear before school starts. These are your limits and responsibilities. After that be very clear about how you want things done. I can’t tell you how many times as a special ed teacher I had paras (not mine) come into my room either seething or crying because they were criticized (sometimes harshly and in front of others) for not doing something a certain way when the only instruction they were given was , “Here, take this book and do this activity with this kid. ” Just like the student teachers, the paras need to see a lesson modeled and explained before sending them off to do it alone. I apologize if this doesn’t apply to your situation. I’ve just seen it and heard it too many times not to point it out when there is an opportunity.
    As for the respect issue, there are two things ( again, I apologize if this does not apply to you). First, you get what you give. Make it a point to show courtesy to the paras. Say please and thank you. Point out when they’ve done well. If they only ever hear you bossing them around and pointing out what they do wrong, of course you will viewed as the bad guy. If they aren’t catching on, be patient. Encouragement will create a far more loyal and reliable Para.
    Second, when a Para or anyone does something incorrectly or does / says something inappropriate handle it discretely, respectfully and quickly. If we are honest, we’ll all admit that usually what we are aggravated about is something we heard indirectly. Confront the person as soon as possible and respectfully and PRIVATELY ask them about what you heard. LISTEN TO WHAT THEY SAY. It may have been a misunderstanding. Give them the benefit of the doubt. If not, try to see their point of view. Most people when they are offended or are being offending simply want to know that someone has heard and understood them (it doesn’t mean you have to agree). Try to find an amiable solution while reiterating the expectations, limits and responsibilities. Also, be sure to include what they are doing well.
    Now, all that being said, sometimes there is just a bad apple. I’ve had this too. First, confront the person as outlined above. DOCUMENT the conversation in factual terms! Keep your emotions out of it! Keep a record of each incident and who was involved (witnesses will be necessary should it move toward an administrative investigation). When it comes time to evaluate the Para, you will have evidence to support your dissatisfaction.
    If the same Para is demonstrating persistent problems in one area and is defiantly avoiding changing the behavior, you should go ahead and file a complaint with the special ed director or admin utilizing your documentation.
    I hope that helps. Sorry for being so long.

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  • Elementary School
    Teaching since: 2000
    New York
  • July 23, 2016 at 10:17 am

    I would agree with all of what was offered by bskaret thus far. Funny how we are so patient and “aware” of what our children need, but we have much higher expectations for our colleagues, and we often don’t realize that we are ALL learners! I have been very lucky with the support I have had thus far, mostly because they were the ones to offer guidance to me! So that is what I will add here …. If they can offer any tips to you reading procedures in the building or expectations of certain administrators, give them the respect and listen to what they have to say. My paras have been around longer than I have, and they were extremely helpful in my transition. They can offer a wealth of knowledge if you let them!
    Good luck!

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  • Classroom Teacher
    Elementary School
  • August 6, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I agree. I have often seen teachers treat paras as if they were somehow less worthy of respect and kindness. Many of our paras are more experienced with our students than the teacher because they have worked with them for multiple years. I think the key is building relationship. As an adult, it can often be hard to share your space and authority with another adult when you are used to being the one adult in charge. It may be difficult but try to carve out a little time to plan with the para so he/she has some input or at least an idea of what is coming up and can be expected. Paras are most often amazing resources who are there because they love children. Think about why they are there. You thought your salary was low?

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