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    Paraprofessional
    By Amy Lee

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    Wendy,

    I am a special ed. teacher and have worked with three different parapro and I was a parapro at a school where I student taught. It is helpful if you meet with your parapro before school starts. Maybe you two could have lunch during the teacher work week (I saw this on another board). At that time you can get to know him or her and ask what he or she believes are the expectations if they have prior experience. I would have a list of your expectations to share with the parapro. Discuss the expectations and let her or him have input. I always bounce ideas around with parapro and she lets be know if it would work or another way teaching a lesson. Some of my best lessons came from her.

    It really helps to treat the parapro as a welcome addition to your classroom. Make sure she has her own space including a desk if there is space. I have a small treat basket with items my parapro likes on first day of school and I remember her during the holidays and birthdays. Sometimes I give her a special gift or note of kindness for no particular reason. Your relationship with her or him is observed by the students and they treat this individual the way you treat her or him.


    I try to conference with my parapro daily to see if she has any concerns or questions. Sometimes it is difficult to find time so we write comments on post notes. She knows she can always come to me if she has a question. Often my students who are sixth, seventh, and eighth graders with emotional/behavior problems go to her with their problems because they feel comfortable with her. Sometimes I am invovled in teaching and she can observe a student having trouble with academics or emotions. It helps to have an extra set of eyes especially when students are not getting along with each other. They also know she should be treated like a teacher and there are consequences for their disrespect.

    I have both our names on the classroom door. This always brings a smile to her face on the first day of school and the students notice as well. This sets the tone of classroom and her role.

    Try to have an open relationship. In my school most of the parapro are mistreated (not seen as educators among the staff). Until they worked with me and saw I was different they could be distant. I didn't take it personal. I am the only teacher who will eat lunch with them during early dismissal days, faculty luncheons, etc.

    You are lucky to have parapro in your classroom. Good luck.



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