We’ve spoken a lot about the relationship that a paraeducator can have with students, but not really done an amazing job with the relationship between general education teachers and paraeducators. We’ve spoken a bit about getting teachers to utilize the skills that a paraeducator might bring and we’ve talked to student teachers, but really looking at the relationship is pretty important.
Sure, we’ve asked every teacher to introduce us formally and recognize us as an adult in the classroom, but what happens if you come into a situation in the middle of the year?
So we give you the professional contract.
Dear General Education Teacher,
I am your paraeducator. I am an adult in your room.
Every day I am able, I will come into your room at set times, perhaps twice a week depending on need of the student. I will let you know in a school professionally recognized contact method if I am to be absent for any time I can possibly let you know. I am charged by the campus to follow through on campus protocols for safety and campus wide rules.
My primary responsibility is to the student(s) I am assigned. Sometimes in the guise of helping that student, I will hide my help for that student by doing work for you. Sometimes the student doesn’t need direct academic help so I may be freer to give you assistance. Other times, I need to sit back and observe and it may not look like much then, but trust in me to be a professional that will complement your teaching style.
Let me know your preferences up front. If you’re new to the profession, I will try to reach out to you and help you understand I’m not here to inhibit your professional growth.
I do not always necessarily know where you are going with a lesson for the entire class, but I will help you if you let me know where you are headed I can assist you or help follow your plan for a lesson or a unit much better than having to do piece by piece. This a great help to students who need AAC vocabulary loaded or even for students who may not be doing academically on grade level as their peers. Having a road map to help these students interact academically with their peers is critical and lessens the wait time these students may have due to the fact that I may have to wait for someone else to create a parallel curriculum or access to materials that might work better for the student in your classroom.
I may not initially be an expert on the student that is in your room. But I know a few things more about finding behavior patterns or know some key traits of the disability that the student may have. And then again, sometimes a particular student will surprise us both and it’ll work in the student’s favor. We live for those moments.
I will do my best every day to make sure our mutual work place follows school policy and is a welcoming environment for all students.
I will model your expected output for your class. To that end, I do need to be counted on getting any and all handouts.
I will let you know what we observe that is working with the student we share or the class as a whole as often as I possibly can.
I want this time we share together to be useful to all students in the class. I know sometimes you may see that I am late. It’s because I’m finishing up with another teacher or student. Or maybe I finally found a restroom. Or maybe I desperately needed my fifteen minute break because it was a very trying class period. I respect our time together and I am doing my best by all the students I am working with.
I often think about the medical mantra, “First do no harm.” And though this is the starting point for medicine, it is also a starting point for a professional relationship and developing a long term relationship we can always come back to.
Your professional partner,
ParaEducate is presenting at Cal-TASH. Find us March 3rd at the event venue!
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.