Juggling Backwards

A friend of Renay’s posted a song about partner dancing. This reminded her of the old question about dancing– who was better Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire. To which the answer is generally subjective, but then the most ardent arguers will point out that ‘Ginger Rogers had to do it [dancing] backward in heels.’

We not saying that all paraeducators across the country are female either. While a great percentage tend to be female, many are male and they provide a much-needed role model in education for many students.

The Mind of a ParaEducator

The mind of a veteran paraeducator is cluttered. Not to discount the mind of a newly hired paraeducator—it’s cluttered as well. But there are different types of clutter.

Both have to remember:

  • Schedules and all the variations
  • Not just their schedule of where, who, and activity, but the schedule of whoever may be working next with a given student
  • The schedule of the bells for the grade for the day
  • The assembly schedule that shifts everything over by twelve minutes
  • The schedule of rotation for the classroom activities
  • The route to the nearest bathroom
  • The number of total minutes breaks were skipped
  • Known strategies to calm down a student
  • The phone number for the office
  • The procedures in case of student health need
  • The homework for all the classes
  • How to work the copy machines
  • Where the paper for the copy machines is kept
  • How to get graph paper when they need it
  • The fact that a student with a disability is probably the most observed person in the room and that their behavior shouldn’t be any better than their peers
  • The student ID number of the students supported for the cafeteria
  • Speaking of the cafeteria, the dietary restrictions of students for health or religious reasons
  • The thirty-eight side notes another person has passed on
  • The fact that a student has a loose tooth
  • The fact that another student has lost their tooth and is tucked in the backpack
  • A student typed a full sentence unsupported early this morning
  • That their shin hurt from where the soccer ball was caught
  • The sound a volleyball makes when bouncing off a person’s head (especially when that head is your head)
  • That the end of the school day is a wonderful moment
  • All the IEP due dates that are coming in the next few weeks
  • Who doesn’t like chocolate on staff and who is allergic to nuts
  • Where to find that modification made four years ago
  • Why a student doesn’t wear their glasses and which student broke their glasses today
  • Where the new tubes of toothpaste are for the students who have braces
  • And most importantly: when Friday is

And you want to know something: this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the things.

But a paraeducator also has to remember:

  • How to get help if they don’t know what to do both in their professional and personal lives
  • Which entrance to the office has space where they can take a moment
  • Where the best place to relax on campus is on your lunch
  • Who the best person is to help when you’re feeling stressed

And you want to know something: this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the things.


The year is most definitely started. We hope you take the time to remember that you do know a million little things and that all the cogs don’t have to stay working to make progress. Take care of yourself. Then take care of the job at hand.

Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, 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 during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

About paraeducate

ParaEducate is a company run to help reach out to paraeducators or paraprofessionals in public K-12 schools, giving advice, talking about publications that ParaEducate produces, and other useful information regarding working in public school settings.
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