For some reason one of the most important and impactful components of our classrooms gets quickly pushed to the very, very bottom of out every growing to do list. The start of the school year is BUSY. We are worrying about setting up our classrooms, getting data systems rolling, implementing behavior systems, and putting up our keeping-up-with-jones bulletin boards. Actually, let’s be real. In the start of the school year we are worried about just making it through the day alive and not losing a child.

The thing we don’t think about is training our classroom assistants. We are so worried about managing our students that we forget that we have to manage our staff as well. Forgetting this step in the back to school process will be detrimental to the rest of your school year. You cannot expect your classroom aides to read your mind. You cannot expect them to keep up with the ever changing schedule and behavior plan changes. You cannot expect them to know exactly how you would like each center or station run. You have got to put in the time and do the training. 

Tips to Training Your Paraprofessionals in the Start of the Year:

  • Have a start of the school year meeting.  This is a natural time to have a group meeting. Treat your staff to lunch and pick up some sandwiches and treats. Everyone loves a meeting with free food. This is the perfect time to review procedures and set expectations. I am a non confrontational person so to me I’d much rather get everyone on the same page than deal with pointing out the awkward conversation halfway through the year.

I recommend using my Paraprofessional Training Manual to guide this meeting. Again – less awkward and confrontational when it comes from a “manual.”

We now have this resource fully translated in SPANISH! Perfect for your classroom assistants who are dominant in spanish.

Some tasty food makes pretty much everything better! Treat your lovely staff to lunch and suddenly that boring ole’ meeting got a LOT more exciting. #willworkforfood

  • Spend a Week with Each Paraprofessional at their Station.  Successful classrooms utilize paraprofessionals as part of the teaching team. They will likely be at a station or center working in small groups with students. My paraprofessionals run a fluency stationspelling instruction, monitor my independent work station, and help run academic groups! These are great ways to individualize education and make your day even more efficient. So this is all great but how do you set this up or get it rolling? You can’t just plop a bunch of flashcards and data sheets on a table and expect your paraprofessional to run the station exactly to your predetermined expectations. You need to spend the time training them! Put some iPads, puzzles, or coloring sheets at whatever station or center you are supposed to be. Spend one full week with the aide at their station during the designated time. For the first few days, have them watch you run the station. Then watch them run the station and fade yourself out. Do this with each station your aides are running. I know what you’re thinking. “Omg! I can’t do that. My kids would miss out on their direct instruction for two weeks if I did that.” Yes they will and yes you can. You’d rather spend real time fully training aides in the start of the year then halfway doing it through the whole year. It will be much more time efficient this way – trust me!
  • Set up a regular meeting time. Give your aides a forum to air grievances, ask questions, and discuss any changes. Again – this is less confrontational! You can even keep using that trusty Paraprofessional Training Manual to guide these meetings!

Check out the Video Preview of our Para Training Guide

I couldn’t live without this resource!