As a general rule, paraeducators in many districts are told not to say more to parents then a few basic pleasantries. But every now and then, either because the parent requests it or because of a special circumstance, a meeting may be set up.
I am always very nervous about these meetings personally. I have never had a meeting that did not end up with me delivering Kleenex to the parent.
So if you’re heading into one of these meetings, here are few things to remember.
- Keep it positive. Paraeducators are not looking for answers, nor should the parents be looking specific to their students.
- Share gratitude. Give the parents the truth—that the back talking at home is just a sign that their child is developing normally.
- Don’t meet without the student’s case manager present or the entire group of paraeducators there.
- Know your student’s disability and IEP goals, but these are not the talking points of this meeting.
For the parents:
- Realize our time is limited. Come with specific goals and I will be more than happy to talk about those with you.
- I do not grade your student. I will state “your student is doing well” or “the classroom teacher has more information”. You can be mad about the code, but the code is to protect me in case of lawsuits. I need to follow the rules so I can stay employed.
- I do care about your student. I am here day in and day out for your student. I may not be glued to your student, but I make it work for your student to have the most success with and without me.
- It is okay to cry. It is okay to be surprised. And it’s okay to realize, you have a hard job and we’re just here to help your student along.
- There are a lot of us, and not all of us are working with your student, but we all know about your student so, when one of us is gone, someone else can step in and there is a chance the student has seen that face on campus and knows everything will be okay.
Most parents are thrilled to meet the team that helps their student through the day. It is just one part of the whole equation of a student’s life.
Oh and One More Thing…
It is the height of flu and cold season. Sadly, this year’s flu season has turned out to be horribly stressful. Many students are going down like flies and when you add in the spike in Measles (California) and Pertussis, more commonly known as Whooping Cough, all the students are surrounded by millions of germs. If you work with or around students with compromised immune systems, please stay home and get yourself well, take the time to get a flu shot if you are able to take one. You do no one any favors by getting them sick. If you have to help a student with specific self-care like nose blowing, keep washing your hands either with soap and water or with hand sanitizer.
Are you interested in participating as a Guest Blogger for ParaEducate? Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here and here. ParaEducate is 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.