Communicating with Paraprofessionals

Report
Competency Area B:
Managing the Work of
Paraprofessionals
Managing the Work of Paraprofessionals
Competencies:
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Clearly describes, to each paraprofessional, their roles and
responsibilities.
Maintains regular positive and supportive interaction with
paraprofessionals.
Contributes to the evaluation of paraprofessional performance with the
intent of assisting paraprofessional skill improvement.
Maintains professionalism through respect, confidentiality, and honoring
boundaries.
Provides beginning and substitute paraprofessionals with an orientation
that results in sufficient understanding of the setting, staff, students, and
staff roles and responsibilities.
Paraprofessionals and those around
them must realize that
paraprofessionals “assist and
support” teachers.
What is the role of
paraprofessionals?
Definition MN 3525.0200 DEFINITIONS FOR SPECIAL
EDUCATION Subp. 10a. Paraprofessional.
“Paraprofessional” means a district employee
who is primarily engaged in direct instruction
with one or more pupils for instructional
activities, physical or behavior management, or
other purposes under the direction of a regular
education or special education teacher or
related services provider.
Legislation MS125A.08(b) (b) For paraprofessionals employed to work in programs for
students with disabilities, the school board in each district
shall ensure that -1. Before or immediately upon employment, each
paraprofessional develops sufficient knowledge and skills
in emergency procedures, building orientation, roles and
responsibilities, confidentiality, vulnerability, and
reportability, among other things, to begin meeting the
needs of the students with whom the paraprofessional
works;
Legislation MS125A.08(b) - continued…
2. Annual training opportunities are available to
enable the paraprofessional to continue to
further develop the knowledge and skills that are
specific to the students with whom the
paraprofessional works, including understanding
disabilities, following lesson plans, and
implementing follow-up instructional
procedures and activities; and
Legislation MS125A.08(b) - continued…
3. A district wide process obligates each
paraprofessional to work under the ongoing
direction of a licensed teacher and, where
appropriate and possible, the supervision of a
school nurse.
Some Appropriate Roles
[adapted from F. Johnson (2003)]
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Assist teacher to maintain records, folders, and filing
Manage classroom books, supplies, and equipment
Assist in large group instruction
Tutor individual and small groups of children
Prepare duplicate materials
Report attendance
Collect data for student assessment, observe and record
behavior
Help pupils understand teacher directions
Play instructional games with children
Some Appropriate Roles
[adapted from F. Johnson (2003)]
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Supervise children during recess on the playground
Attend student conferences and IEP staffing
Prepare instructional resources and collect specific
materials for lessons
Help students with missed work and make-up tests
Arrange learning centers and prepare materials for
special activities such as art
Listen to oral reading
Provide role model for the children
Some Appropriate Roles
[adapted from F. Johnson (2003)]
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Record materials for children with disabilities
Contribute ideas when staff is planning instructional
program
Re-teach with special practice after initial instruction by
teacher
Supervise test periods and enter grades into grade books
Some Inappropriate Roles
[adapted from F. Johnson (2003)]
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Assign final grades
Make retention or promotion decisions
Initiate formal contact with parents concerning child's
overall progress
Administer, score and interpret assessments that require
subjective judgment
Assume full responsibility for a class for indefinite
amount of time
Some Inappropriate Roles
[adapted from F. Johnson (2003)]
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Make major decisions as to the subject matter to be
taught
Has primary responsibility for writing IEPs
Sub for a teacher, unless they are an official substitute in
superintendent's office
Plan individual daily lesson plans for the classroom
Some Inappropriate Roles
[adapted from F. Johnson (2003)]
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Discard instructional materials as inappropriate
Give permission to observe
Supervise student teachers
Job Description Worksheet
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Position Title
Position Setting
Hours of employment
Qualifications (credentials, education and/or work
experience
Rationale and/or purpose for the position
Expectations of the position
Duties and responsibilities
 Common activities

Job Description Worksheet,
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cont.
Orientation/pre-training requirements
On-the-job training goals
 Future training needs

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Supervision
Name(s) of professional(s) directing this position and brief
description of that relationship
 Schedule and structure of supervision (I.e., daily informal
direction from lead teacher; weekly team meetings with
instructional team; annual performance review conducted in
spring with lead teacher and program administrator)

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Evaluation
What role do teachers have in
paraprofessional performance
reviews?
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In Minnesota, teachers do not hire, terminate or
conduct performance evaluations -- that is the role
of administrators.
But, teachers may contribute to the performance
evaluation. How might this work? Why is it
important?
Teacher’s Role 
Work with the administrator responsible for the
performance evaluation and determine your role.
For example, teachers might 
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Gather information
Provide examples of performance
Work with paraprofessional to grow and improve
skills
Provide summative information about performance
Other???
Contents for a paraprofessional
handbook (F. Johnson, 2003)
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Orientation checklist
Related policies and procedures
Professional Ethics
Report of Maltreatment
Evaluation process
Special education process
Behavioral management strategies
Contents for a paraprofessional
handbook, Continued (F. Johnson, 2003)
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Instructional strategies
Medication reference list
Substitute information
Training information (including instructions about
how to document training activities)
Other information
Orientation 
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Introduce the
paraprofessional to policies,
people, roles,
responsibilities, school,
classroom and more
Consider skills, abilities and
interests.
Show where to go for
breaks, phone, email,
paycheck, schedules, forms,
etc.
Orientation Interview Questions
French, 2003
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Where did you grow up?
What are your leisure time activities?
What is your best memory of school?
What is your understanding of this position?
Why are you interested in this type of work?
What are your unique talents and skills?
Introducing Paraprofessionals
to your Classroom
(Gerlach, 2003)
1. Allow the paraprofessional to spend at least one day
2.
observing you and other teachers and students
Provide an initial orientation to your classroom,
including:
o
o
o
o
o
o
Daily routines
Daily and weekly schedules
Instructional procedures
Classroom rules
Lesson plan format
Procedures for handling student assignments
Introducing Paraprofessionals
to your Classroom
(Gerlach, 2003)
3. Explain the activities that take place at the beginning of
each class, such as:
o
o
o
o
Attendance
Warm-up routines
Lunch counts
Special services
4. Explain your class policies regarding:
o
o
o
o
o
Classroom procedures (e.g., posting and handing in
assignments)
Room organization and clean-up
Dismissing the class and small groups
Student rules
Bathroom rules
Introducing Paraprofessionals
to your Classroom
(Gerlach, 2003)
4. Explain your class policies regarding:
o
o
o
(continued)
Incomplete work, late or missing work, and make-up work
Parent and family communication
Other:
5. Discuss the plans of the students with whom the
6.
paraprofessional works
Provide a place for the paraprofessional to put his or her
things try to get email access)
Ask yourself these questions…
(Gerlach, 2003)
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Did I explain what task needs to be done and why, how
and where it will be done?
Did I explain how the paraprofessional will be observed
and supervised?
Did I discuss how feedback should be provided to me?
Do I speak in team language, such as “It would be good
for both of us if we…”
Did I ask for a specific action or did I phrase my request
in ambiguous terms?
Ask yourself these questions…
(Gerlach, 2003)
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Did I provide a written plan?
Did I set a mutually agreed-upon deadline when
I delegated a task?
Did I confirm important content in writing?
Did I ask if the paraprofessional had any
questions?
Planning and Scheduling
Competencies:
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Establish goals and detailed plans around which activities of
paraprofessionals are coordinated.
Organize and manage schedules that allow for cooperation,
planning and information sharing.
Consider the strengths, interests and needs of
paraprofessionals when managing schedules.
Manage smooth transitions brought on by changes to the
daily schedules of paraprofessionals.
Organize and provide materials and resources that are
necessary to carry out the objectives of each
paraprofessional’s activity.
Summary of Student Schedule
Student Name___________________Grade______________________Date____________________
Please fill in class/subject for each half-hour block using the key
(see next slide)
Monday
8:00-8:30
8:30-9:00
9:00-9:30
9:30-10:00
10:30-11:00
11:00-11:30
11:30-12:00
12:00-12:30
12:30-1:00
1:00-1:30
1:30-2:00
2:00-2:30
2:30-3:00
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Summary of Student Schedule
Student Name___________________Grade______________________Date____________________
Please fill in class/subject for each half-hour block using the key
(see next slide)
KEY Blue - student is in independent class activity, no para in room
Green - Student is in independent class activity, para is in room
Black - Student is in independent class but para checks at ___ minute intervals
Purple - Student is receiving one-to-one direct instruction within general education
classroom
Red - Student is pulled out to receive instruction in a special education environment
** Indicates problem areas/have questions and concerns
Monday
8:00-8:30
8:30-9:00
9:00-9:30
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Steps for Delegation to
Paraprofessionals
French (2003)
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Delegation is a process
that consists of steps that
can be learned by teachers
even if they entered the
profession believing that
supervision of
paraprofessionals was not
part of their job.
1. Analyze the task
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How urgent and important
is the task?
Could someone else do it?
What are the component
parts of the larger task?
2. Decide what to delegate
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What are the student
needs? Program needs?
What are the
paraprofessional’s
interests and skills?
What training or coaching
would be needed for the
paraprofessional to
complete the task?
3. Create the plan
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Identify the components
of the task, limits of
authority, & performance
standards.
Determine how to direct
and monitor the
paraprofessional and
when/how to provide
needed training.
4. Select the right person
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Consider interests,
preferences, and abilities.
Consider the degree of
challenge the task
presents.
Be sure balance and rotate
unpleasant tasks.
5. Direct the task
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Clarify objectives and
purposes.
Communicate effectively.
Set timelines.
6. Monitor performance
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Create a system for
feedback and provide it.
Tolerate and manage style
differences.
Let the paraprofessional do
the task and don’t interfere
early on while he/she is still
learning.
Document and reward good
performance.
The role and function of adults in the
classroom must be well defined in order for
coordinated instruction to occur. Teachers
and paraprofessionals working with
students must take time to coordinate and
plan together so that paraprofessionals are
not left alone to create and design what they
do with students.
- Barbara Jo Stahl (MDE)

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