I know the last thing you want to do at the end of the school year or start of summer is think about fall, but it is one of the most helpful things you can do. Helpful for you. This will make your life easier. At the end of the year, it’s important to reflect and take note of things that went well, things that didn’t, and what you want to change. Come August or September after a few weeks of netflix and swimming pools has taken over your brain, I promise – you won’t remember those essential little details. So let’s take a moment to look ahead to the start of the school year and think about staff training.
Have a staff meeting.
This seems like a given but not every school provides common planning time even before the school year starts. Ask for it. And ask again. And again. Be politely pushy. This is a necessity and if your school admin doesn’t know that already – convince them. You need dedicated time to work with your staff before the school year starts. Time when the paraprofessionals are paid to be there and listening. This is probably the first thing of the school you may need to do to advocate for your students. Having a team that is on the same page is what’s best for your students. This isn’t about you. This is about your kids. So make it happen.
Provide the basics.
Don’t jump into the specifics yet. Use this opportunity to give the general information and job responsibilities. I developed my paraprofessional handbook just for this. It outlines basic concepts like why we use schedules, how to follow a behavior plan, and how to encourage communication. Getting everyone on the same page about these ideas is so critical. You will reference this meeting later. Again that’s why I like the idea of a manual or handbook – so each team member can keep a hardcopy of what you discussed.
Ask for questions and feedback.
If you have the same paraprofessionals that you had the previous year, share your list of what you think went well and didn’t go well last year and ask them to weigh in. Set some team goals (teacher included) for what you can work on in the coming year. Be open and nonjudgmental. Part of the purpose of this meeting is to develop rapport and a team mentality.
Set boundaries right away.
I am not a confrontational person by nature so I like to set expectations right from the start to hopefully avoid a conflict later. Set the boundaries of your classroom. Let them know when personal discussions should and should not occur, let them know about cell phone use during the day (check out this mini training video), let them know about coming back from breaks/lunches on time. Go through the logistical details. It’s a nice time to do this because you aren’t calling anyone out because the year hasn’t started.