Setting Up Your Paras for Success - The Autism Helper

Setting Up Your Paras for Success

As a teacher we wear many hats, we wear the direct service with students hat, the working with parents hat, the collaborating with clinicians hat, the IEP writing hat, and then there is one more hat we often forget about. It’s the training and managing your staff hat. It is part of your job to train and mange your staff. Repeat that with me, “It is part of your job to train and mange your staff.” This will take time. Sometimes a lot of time. This will be part of your daily job duties. You cannot forget about this. Your classroom will never be successful with staff management. Scared you yet?

The first step in my para staff management is my Paraprofessional Training Guide. I’ve gotten some great feedback on it and have seen first hand some of the great conversations and training this resources provides. The next step is to set up your paraprofessionals for success. There are some must-haves for your staff just like there are for your students.

Schedules

You need a schedule for every staff member in your classroom. No excuses. This is a must-have. Make is simple and easy to follow. I post each of my staff members’ schedule near their station or in their data binder so they always have access to it.

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Calendars

Just like we need calendars as much as coffee – our paras need calendars, too. I made a calendar for one of my paras for when we are doing each set of activities. This station will be rotating between 3 activities each done for a week at a time (a week of comprehension, a week of spelling, and a week of writing). This calendar lays it our clearly and simply!

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Visuals & Labels

Make sure everyone is one the same page and provide some prompts and cheat sheets. Managing several students’ goals, data sheets, and behavioral needs can be overwhelming! Make it easy and add some visuals!  Keeping track of so many supplies can be chaotic as well. Labeling every bin and binder will make everyone’s life easier.

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Easy to Use Data Sheets

Of course, the bedrock of paraprofessional success is creating easy to use data sheets. If your data sheet is too complicated – guess what will happen? That data sheet will collect loads of dust and your lovely little station will be data free.

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So ask yourself a serious question – are you setting up your paraprofessionals for success? 

Sasha Long
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17 Comments

  1. Awesome!

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  2. Thank you so much for this today! I needed this more than you know. I will keep working on training my paras, as well as, maintaining a well run classroom. I am finally getting my paras stations up and running this week. Whew, this job is a lot of work!

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  3. Where can I find your paraprofessional training guide?

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  4. It SO it! Good luck & hang in there! 🙂

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  5. Do you prepare the folders shown weekly or do they do them? I am having a hard time getting them to work with my LD kids more than just giving the kids just directions on what to do. I know we have more kids than what we should, but I need help and can’t get it from them 🙁

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  6. I try to prepare for a month or more at a time or else I completely forget! As long as you can prep ahead – do it! Often times – the quality of instruction isn’t perfect but at least it’s something. Always something to work towards!

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  7. I think if we all had teachers like you … this world would be a better place. Thank you for taking the time to train …. hope your year is going well. I think I want to intern in your classroom. ; )

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  8. So sweet! Thank you for your nice words!

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  9. Do you have the calendars, schedules, and forms you use in your pictures for sale? Having to create everything myself is very time consuming. Downloading forms already created is such a time saver.

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  10. Commenting on an older post because, well, this is probably my biggest challenge right now! My paras are fantastic, my manager skills need work! Scheduling is a nightmare for me (K-5, no 3rd grade, me, and 3 paras)! Any tips for how to prioritize inclusion??? How do you know when it is really in the student’s best interest to be out for math, when say, they are pretty prompt dependent? Or do you go by – it’s best to have them out, even if their readiness skills aren’t really there yet? Such a sensitive topic for teachers, as well as parents!
    I love all your helpful posts and am learning so much (most of it, while I go! LOL)! Thank you for all you do and share with your readers and followers! 🙂

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  11. Yes! I totally understand! I prioritize based on the skills they will learn in the classroom versus the experiences they will have out of the classroom. This is not always a popular decision but I think you need to weigh the importance of the skills they will learn in the class. If inclusion is mostly for social skills and skill generalization it is definitely important but needs to be balanced accordingly. Does that make sense at all?

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  12. Not sure if my previous comment posted or not! I need your opinion on some simple stations for paras to run in a 1st grade (preK-1 level) classroom. Thank you so much!

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  13. Some ideas: puzzle/fine motor station, independent work (younger kiddos may still need help working independently), art station, sensory station (change out sensory bins each month), file folder station, handwriting station (tracing, handwriting, stamping, etc.), play station (work on using toys for appropriate play function). Hope this helps!

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  14. I wish I had this kind of support. I am a paraprofessional in NYC and I feel like I was pretty much just put in a classroom and told to adapt. I have been doing the job for 2 years now and while I am confident in my abilities now I would still appreciate some more structure and support.

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  15. It can be such a thankless job and is such a difficult job! Your students are lucky to have you! Hang in there 🙂

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