The staff in our rooms have so many different terms: Teacher Assistant, TAs, Paraprofessionals, Paras, Instructional Assistants… the list goes on and on. We know them also as SAINTS, our right hand, our brains, and the people we could not do this job without! This important part of my classroom has not always been present in my room, but I’m so glad that I added it: a Paraprofessional Supply Station.
My teacher assistants instruct all over the room, so they do not have a dedicated instructional station, but I’ve seen the need over the years for a place for them to have a home base for basic elements that they need to keep the day running seamlessly without having to look around for an item or ask me. The highlights of this station are: visuals, timers, dry erase boards/markers, materials for making new tasks, everyday copies, IEP/BIP information, instructions for daily TA tasks, and checklists!
Visuals, Timers, and Dry Erase Boards/Markers
The most important part of this station is all of the goodies that are necessary to work with students. My TAs (as they are referred to at my current school/district) are highly trained and have had student strategies modeled for them by behavior specialists, other district staff and me. As a result, they are adept at assessing a situation and implementing visuals or a behavior modification strategy that are effective and aligned that student’s goals and behavior plan.
I try to make certain that this station is stocked with visual rings, First/Then visuals, visual timers, and dry erase boards/markers. A great resource for these items is TAH Ultimate Packet of Behavior Management Visuals for Children with Autism, I am incredibly blessed in my current teaching assignment that all of my students are readers. They all love a checklist, even if it is a quickly written dry erase list. A term heard often in my classroom is “Cross it off!, Cross it off!!”. If you have nothing else in your Paraprofessional Supply Station, have these items! They are essential to a self-contained classroom.
Materials for Making
Another convenient set of items to have in your Paraprofessional Supply Station is materials for making new tasks ready and organized. When paraprofessionals have any sort of downtime (which is pretty rare), I like to have everything handy for making new work. Many fellow teachers and staff members have expressed how calming and therapeutic cutting, gluing, and laminating can be and I completely agree.
I have two laminators, one Scotch brand smaller desktop Laminator and a larger laminator (GBC Fusion 3000L) that can laminate file folders. I have three types of laminating pockets, standard size 3ML, standard size 5 ML, and larger 3 ML pockets. I also have strip and coin velcro, scissors, glue, and permanent markers. I like to have two drawers nearby that separate work that is NOT YET STARTED and work that is IN PROGRESS. I have a myriad of TAH products that are in progress at any given time.
Paper materials that I like to have at the ready for my staff are copies that are used daily, individual student’s pertinent IEP information, including student’s Behavior Improvement Plans and any necessary employee paperwork. Copies that are used daily include: student behavior data sheets, IEP data sheets, Leveled Daily Work, and math practice sheets.
Instructions and Checklists
Visuals are extremely helpful for everyone in the classroom, not just students! I find it useful to provide visuals for staff (and I have quite a few for myself as well). I have visuals in the Paraprofessional Station for making daily copies, Behavior Plan Flow Charts and Tools for quick reference, and step by step behavior strategies for individual students (BIP strategies made more clear).
I also love to have a Morning and Afternoon Checklist for staff that clearly outlines the tasks that need to be completed to keep the classroom running smoothly. I participate in the completion of the Morning and Afternoon Checklists. This is a priority because leading by example is critical and my participation reinforces a team approach. One last thing that I find super helpful in this station is an “I NEED” board for my paraprofessionals to write quick notes to me about what they need to be best supported during electives, lunch, or transitions. They can let me know what they need even if we don’t have time for a longer conversation.
I’d love to hear about your Paraprofessional Station in your room or if you’ve found a different clever way to store these important items! I’d also love to connect with you on Instagram: @ausometeaching!