Saturday, September 3, 2016

3 {more} tips for effectively working with paraprofessionals

If you work with multiple paraprofessionals, it can be very difficult to make sure you're all on the same page. I work with 3 paras, and it's normal for at least 1 of them to be out of the classroom at a time (either in specials, in general ed, in the bathroom, etc.), so I often find it hard to tell all of my paras something important at the same time. I've written a few posts about working with paras effectively and supporting them so you can be a great classroom team. First, make sure you start the year off right with paras by using these these 3 tips for starting the year off right with paras here. Then, support paras by providing them with visuals (this post has some examples and freebies).

1) Have communication boards/ areas for communicating with paraprofessionals
This board is posted on the cabinet that my paras lock their personal items in. It's bare now, but normally I post the weekly school bulletin, any updates from parents, and staff shout outs.

Our SLP made this board to make sure paras know what kiddos are working on in regards to communication. Each little envelope has a card with students' communication goals and then a card for staff to write notes on. For example, if Billy independently and spontaneously requested juice with his VOD, then the staff could note it on the card for the SLP to see later.

I use this board to fill paras in on any schedule relating things that are different/ out of the ordinary for the week (like IEP meetings, field trips, observations, etc.)


2) Create some kind of questionnaire or inventory to find out how paras want you to communicate with them.
I use this brief little questionnaire to get an idea of my paras' individual preferences. Although you can't always handle situations in the manner that paras prefer, you can almost always take their preferences into account.

3) Use a variety of schedules to make expectations and duties clear. 
I use a variety of different visuals/ schedules to make sure my paras know exactly what they should be doing at different times of the day and to keep us all on track.
This schedule shows the daily tasks that need to be completed for each part of our day:

This schedule shows where staff should be for student lunches and times for staff lunches. Staff rotate staff and student lunches weekly, so it keeps us organized and in the correct spot!

This shows the bathroom schedule for kiddos:

I hope these tips help you to create an awesome relationship and team with your paraprofessionals this school year! Please comment with any tips you have to help other teachers work with paras!!

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