10 Ways to Use Paraprofessionals during Distance Learning
One of the biggest questions distance brings up is how to utilize paraprofessionals. It seems every district has a different approach, so be sure to follow your district’s guidelines. However, if you are looking for some fresh ideas on how to include paras, I’ve got you covered! Here are TEN ways you can include paraprofessionals during distance learning.
1. Read Alouds
Probably one of the easiest things we can do is offer a familiar face reading to our students. This is great for paras! Let them have some choice in what they are reading, too. It’s a great time for them to read a story they love or read to their own kids. Read with a theme or read family favorites or even bedtime stories. No matter what, we know reading to kids is so important, so keep it going.
2. Send a personalized video to each student, every day.
One of the best ways I’ve had student engagement is by providing a personalized video for my students each day. This would be GREAT for paras to do, too! In my classroom we are splitting it up so everyone takes a few kids each day. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but a short little message means SO much to our students.
3. Give Feedback On Work
Add your assistants to your Google Classroom, SeeSaw, or Class DoJo, if you can. Have them jump in and share with students how great they are doing, or ways they can improve. They can help field questions, too (I don’t know about you, but this feels like it’s my full time job these days!).
4. Record Data
No matter if it’s Boom Card data or virtual ABA, we are going to want to take data. Figure out how you want to manage this and have your assistants taking data and/or start loading that data into a google spreadsheet! If you haven’t yet, check out the amazing video from The Autism Helper on how to do Boom Cards using Zoom with your students. Add one of your assistants in on the Zoom call to take data on things like prompts and accuracy to get a great idea of where they are with skills. Paras can help take data on things like reading fluency, too! It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes when taking data.
5. Share a Joke!
Laughter is good for the soul – have your paras share a joke with your students! They can video it, or email it, or share it on your classroom platform (google classroom, seesaw, dojo, etc). It’s a quick way for students to take a break and a your paras to feel included in the classroom community!
If you’ve got a calendar routine, have your assistants do it via video! Have them talk about what day it is, what the weather is like, and what the theme is for the week. No props or extravagant set up necessary.
7. Teach a New Sign
My classroom is learning sign language and every day we learn a new sign. Have your assistants learn a new sign and share it with your students!
8. Teach Vocabulary
I LOVE teaching new vocabulary each week. It’s super important for our students to be exposed to language and new vocabulary. Have your assistants teach new vocabulary words. Have them show pictures of vocabulary words or share examples from home.
9. Model, model, model
Utilize your paras to model via video! Have them model use of AAC devices, have them use sign language, have them model greeting peers or staying on topic. Teach students to wash hands, categorize silverware, or even sort light and dark laundry… the possibilities for modeling are endless! Video modeling can be incredibly powerful, especially when we can’t model in person. Want some ideas? Check out this post. While I normally want to use similarly aged peers for video modeling, we use what we can in the days of remote learning!
10. Art Projects
From directed drawings to cool pintrest projects at home, the internet is filled with great art projects for kids. Have your paraprofessionals share some fun art ideas and video themselves doing it so students can follow along!
No matter how you use your paraprofessionals during remote learning, do your best to continue to make connections while apart from students. Keep trying, even to those students who aren’t responding… yet. You never know when they’ll be ready for you!