Back to School Success
So much of our focus as teachers is student success within the classroom. While that is incredibly important, so is planning for everyone who works in your classroom. It’s important to plan for the paraprofessionals in your classroom as well as your students. Here are three ways I plan for them to have a successful year.
1. Space & Stuff
When setting up my classroom over the summer, I specifically set aside space for my assistants. Whatever I want space-wise as a teacher, I want to give them as paraprofessionals. Everyone is given a spot for their purse, their coat, their handbooks and school items and lunch. I also think about the spaces they will be working in and make sure they are stocked with whatever they need to get the job done. Be it pencils, scissors, wipes, or printed curriculum, I want to be sure everything is within reach so paras don’t have to get up or stop instruction to get what they need. This often means having 3 sets of scissors all over the room, but if that helps keep my room functional, I don’t care!
Every year I make a paraprofessional handbook using the two Paraprofessional Manuals that The Autism Helper has. I go over in detail what I include in each section of my handbook in this blog post. I believe that most people want to be successful at their job, and that requires staff training. By putting together a handbook, I give my paraprofessionals a resource that allows them to easily refer to, give us both a guide for training and helps paraprofessionals give their input.
In order for your classroom to run smoothly, you are going to need to be the queen/king of schedules. Every person in your room needs a schedule. You need a schedule, your students need a schedule and your paras need a schedule. Think through transitions, instruction, specials, general education time, and any other time students need support. Figure out who will go with each student, and how to fit in lunches and breaks. Scheduling is one of the hardest parts of our job, but when everyone has a schedule and knows what to do your classroom will run smoothly. I give each para an individualized schedule for the day so they know exactly what they should be doing and don’t have to stop to ask. We then make mini-schedules we keep in our lanyard. An example of one is pictured. I marked out any student information for privacy. This allows paras to always know their schedules and what’s expected of them.
These three easy things will not only set you up for success, but your paraprofessionals up for success!