Assistants. Paras. Aides.
Whatever your district calls them, let’s just be real. They are ROCKSTARS. My classroom couldn’t function without them. Every year I take time to make sure I’ve set my assistants up for success from the start. I’ve found a little effort goes a long ways in making assistants feel welcomed and part of our classroom team.
You likely have carved space out already where you are going to put your school bags, your coat, your purse, your keys, your lunch, and your drink each day. Take a minute and create this space for your assistants, too. It doesn’t have to be big or extravagant, but make it personal and meet the needs of your staff. Each one of my assistants has a file cabinet drawer to put their personal items in, but they also have a hook for their lunch box or purse. I even found an extra set of cubbies this year and have given each staff member their own cubby by our student cubbies to hang their coat since we go between building so much. I’ve labeled each space with their names so they feel welcomed and part of our classroom community.
I LOVE this resource. I put a ton of materials in here for my assistants. I use The Autism Helper’s Staff Training Handbook (a MUST for any room that uses ABA) in one section. In addition, I have sections for our schedule, student info pages, monthly staff goals, monthly staff notes, promethean board guide, CPI training reminders, deescalation and behavior tips. If my assistants have questions, they always have a resource to go to.
We make mini-schedules so my assistants know exactly what I need them to do and when they need to do it. We keep those schedules in our staff badges to refer to them throughout the day. In addition, I post schedules all over my classroom for my assistants to use. On my whiteboard, I have a staff note section where we write any changes or things we all need to know for the upcoming week. This makes sure that everyone knows about changes in schedules, and no one is left out of the loop on accident.
Checkout the areas where your assistants will be working. Do they have everything they need at their fingertips? What about an adult-sized chair? What would you want and need if you were working in that area? Take a minute to go through and gather materials so your assistants will have everything they could possibly need at their workstation. Throw in some flair pens and good pencils, too. Little touches go a long way.
New Year, New Start.
Just like your students, take the new school year to give the assistants you are working with a fresh start. Ignore anything you’ve heard and give each assistant the chance to shine in your classroom. The chocolate chip cookie principal is totally in effect here, too. Make your room so amazing (aka reinforcing!) for your assistants that they WANT to be in your classroom and they WANT to do a great job for you! Work together to determine team goals to start the year, and plan out what steps you are going to take to get there. Together you’ll make it the best year yet!