Working Effectively & Collaborating with Paraprofessionals!

Friday, July 15, 2016

A great parapro can save you time, help increase student learning, and basically be your right hand. On the other hand a bad parapro can make your life harder in many ways. A good parapro is worth their weight in gold. I’ve had the privileged to work with some amazing Para's and also was unlucky to work with a few who were less than stellar.
So what is the secret to having a great working relationship with your parapro’s? Well, I don’t know the exact recipe, but I’ve figured out a few things that can help you and head your parapro/teacher working relationship in the right direction.

1. Knowing Personalities are Pertinent
It’s important to know your paraprofessionals personality, as well as your own.
To accomplish this, I had ALL my parapro’s and teachers take a personality test this past
school year. They thought I was crazy I am sure, but the insight they are able to give them
into what makes each person tick, allowed me to help motivate them, and give them
constructive criticism in a way that won’t step on toes or hurt their feelings. You can find the
personality test I used HERE. I like the break down of how a person is to work with. I’ll use
own personality as an example for you. The test told me I was an ESFJ. According to the
work habits section of the profile, my personality type is sensitive to criticism. And to be
honest with you, that’s accurate. I do take criticism to heart. No matter how nicely it is done.
So if my boss wanted to give me constructive criticism, I respond best to being to the desired
behavior, and then I will typically change my behaviors to align with what is desired. This is
much nicer to me than to say, hey, you are really lacking here, and I think you need to do
this. I focus on what I am lacking in, and it takes me much longer to change things.
To me, understanding your co-workers habits and preferences go a long way to make a great
#FunFact: 8 of the 10 teachers I had take this had the same personality type. Of the
paraprofessionals I had take the quiz, they all fell within 3 different personality types. 
I thought that was telling!

2. When in Doubt Spell It Out!
Make sure that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are explicitly spelled out.
Communication is key. Make sure you sit down with your parapro’s at the beginning of the
year and spell out their responsibilities to them. On the flip side, let them know what your
responsibilities are as well. This helps you to hold each other accountable.

3. Give them support.
Parapro’s need feedback. You like the work they are doing with so and so, let them know. If
you don’t. who will. Ask them if they have any questions, EVEN if you are sure they couldn’t
possibly have questions, they might. Give them encouragement, and try to see their
attributes and use those attributes to your benefit.

4. Help Them Learn
I’ve worked with parapro’s who have bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, high school
diploma’s and even one with a master’s degree. Parapro’s all have different levels of
education. Some may have a stronger background than others in working with special needs.
Don’t forget to give them some on-the-job training. Additionally, if there is an online class
you think a parapro could benefit from, let them know about it. I’ve had some parapro’s use
the Vanderbilt IRIS Modules, OCALI Autism Modules, and even the AFFIRM Modules. My
para’s are thrilled to learn more information. Now, not all are willing to go the extra steps, so
it may help to ask them to work on it during their prep period, etc. especially if there is one
area that you feel like they lack in.

5. Collaborative Schedules
Your typical school day can be hectic. Getting to actually talk your parapro is sometimes
near impossible. To help, use a collaborative Google Document. Google Docs let you real
time communicate using the same document. If something changes, or you know that a
surprise fire drill is coming up, you can give the para a head’s up too!  Like wise, a parapro
can let you know data from an inclusion class, or write a reminder to talk to you about
something specific.
What are your best tips for working and collaborating with Paraprofessionals? I'd love to
hear from you in the comments below! 

Happy Teaching! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Design by Studio Mommy (© Copyright 2015)