November 2017
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  1. 12 Ways to Improve and Enhance Your Paraprofessional- Teacher Experience


    1.  Communicate with each other. One of the most important aspects of an effective working relationship between the paraprofessional, special educator, teacher, or specialist is clear and consistent communication and organization. It is critical to communicate frequently and use organizing tools that can help define roles, define expectations, and set parameters for class norms as part of the process.

    2.  While the teacher is up front leading, it is important that the paraeducator moves around the room. This allows him or her to be near their assigned students, but also allows them some space in order to develop independence.

    3.  Have a welcome interview with your team. For example a team might be a special educator, a general educator, and a paraprofessional. Learn more about one another and develop an initial understanding of your roles and responsibilities.

    4.  It is important to have a harmonious working relationship in the classroom, so the paraprofessional/teacher team should discuss in advance how they will approach lesson planning, student instruction, student behavior, and communication. Questions like ‘Who?’ and ‘How?’ and ‘When?’ are good.

    5.  Treat each other as equals – teachers and paraprofessionals are both essential members of the teaching team.  As a teacher, I always treated my paraprofessionals with respect and as an equal and that always enhanced my relationships and the effectiveness of the paraprofessionals in my classroom.

    6.  Teachers – Empower the paraprofessional to monitor behavior and support the discipline process in the classroom. This empowerment will be worth millions when you must leave the classroom with a substitute knowing that you have challenging students in the room.  You will be able to rest more comfortably knowing that the paraprofessional can handle the class and that students will respect that person’s authority.

    7.  Discuss goals, priorities, and plans with each other on a daily basis.  Sometimes this may mean stealing a few minutes of time before class, while students are doing a quiet seat activity or after class.  Communication is critical, not only to the success of students in the classroom, but also to the teaching relationship.

    8.  Discuss classroom issues with each other, especially when the issue is related to the student the paraprofessional is working with.  Teachers and paraprofessionals oftentimes have different views, therefore sharing diverse ideas and possible solutions could be invaluable to a difficult situation.

    9.  When an educator (paraprofessional or teacher) is working with a student or several students, avoid interrupting. Interruption undermines the educator’s authority with the students and often causes distress and possible conflict.

    10.  Take notes and document those notes on easy to remember or easy to use forms or compile them in a binder with rules, expectations, and a syllabus, so that they can be referred to throughout the year.  This is critical for paraprofessionals who are working with more than one teacher because each teacher may have different expectations (These forms are available in Susan’s Book, Paraprofessionals and Teachers Working Together).

    11.  Model how you want things done. For example, model for the paraprofessional how to administer tests, or model the difference between “cuing” a student to remember an answer vs. giving the student the answer.

    12.  Provide scripts when necessary to assist in responding to student behavior (Sample scripts are available in the classroom management chapter of Susan’s Book,Paraprofessionals and Teachers Working Together).


  2. The Art of Asking Questions

    At one time or another, most of us have been disappointed by the caliber of the questions students ask in class, online, or in the office. Many of them are such mundane questions: “Will material from the book be on the exam?” “How long should the paper be?” “Can we... Comment
  3. Nine Characteristics of a Great Teacher

    By: Maria Orlando, EdD in Philosophy of Teaching Years ago, as a young, eager student, I would have told you that a great teacher was someone who provided classroom entertainment and gave very little homework. Needless to say, after many years of K-12 administrative experience and giving hundreds of teacher evaluations, my perspective... Comment
  4. 5 Tips for a Winner’s Brain

    By Jody Amable Success: it’s what every parent wants for their child, and according to two researchers, anyone is capable of achieving it. Researchers Jeff Brown and Mark J. Fenske say that contrary to popular assumption, people aren’t just born into lucky circumstances that create winners; anyone can train their brain... Comment
  5. Ten Roles for Teacher Leaders

    Cindy Harrison and Joellen Killion The ways teachers can lead are as varied as teachers themselves. Teacher leaders assume a wide range of roles to support school and student success. Whether these roles are assigned formally or shared informally, they build the entire school’s capacity to improve. Because teachers can... Comment

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