On the Same Page: Paraprofessionals and Teachers Working TogetherBy Susan Fitzell
Have you ever worked with another adult in the classroom and felt as if you were both on different planets? Possibly, your approach to working with students was completely at odds. Or maybe you held certain expectations about what the other adult should do and those expectations weren’t met. In order to have a more harmonious and effective working relationship in the classroom, it is important to be on the same page with matters of concern.
Teachers might discuss with their paraprofessionals how they will plan for their work in the classroom. Paraprofessionals might ask their collaborating teachers about their expectations and discuss how those expectations will be dealt with.
Other items to reflect upon include: “How will the paraprofessional meet instructional goals?” “What are the teacher’s expectations for participation in classroom management?” and “How will the classroom teacher and paraprofessional communicate with each other?” The following questions include many possibilities for consideration. Not all of the following items are applicable to every person, school, or situation. Rather, this is a launching pad for discussion.
- Will the paraprofessional provide input into the planning process for either specific students or the class in general? If so, how will the classroom teacher gain that input?
- Will the paraprofessional have input into lesson planning, or planning for reteaching?
- When and how should the paraprofessional’s experience in the classroom contribute to interventions used with non-responders or students with special needs?
- With whom will the paraprofessional work: students with special needs, non-responders, students-at-risk, or the general student population?
- Will the paraprofessional reteach material?
- How will the paraprofessional help implement lesson plans or provide re-teaching? What will this look like?
- If specific interventions or programs are being utilized, who will train the paraprofessional in these methods?
- When will student assessment take place? How will gains be recorded? Who will be responsible for collecting this data?
- What are the behavioral expectations and rules for students in the classroom?
- What methods are used to gain student understanding of classroom expectations and rules?
- How will students perceive those expectations and rules in regards to the paraprofessional’s authority? Who clarifies the paraprofessional’s level of authority?
- How should the paraprofessional deal with misbehavior, disruptions, or problems that occur in the classroom?
- Who will provide the paraprofessional with positive behavior management training when necessary?
- How and when will professionals and paraprofessionals communicate about concerns, student updates, intervention progress, etc.?
- Who will be responsible for communicating with parents?
- Will communication with parents be verbal or written? What parameters should the paraprofessional work within? Are there times when communication should be deferred to the classroom teacher, special educator, or administrator?
- When should conversations with parents be documented? When should they not be documented? If documented, what form should that documentation take?
- Exactly who should the paraprofessional report to if any conversation with a parent occurs that might cause concerns, or where student issues need to be related?