May 2009
Vol 6 No 5

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Teachers.Net Gazette Vol.6 No.5 May 2009

Cover Story by Matt Levinson
Schools and Facebook: Moving Too Fast,
or Not Fast Enough?
Schools can draw a line in the sand, with zero tolerance rules written into school handbooks, or they can shift with the changing sands of social networking and utilize social networking and Facebook to enhance teaching and learning.

Harry & Rosemary Wong: Effective Teaching
Teachers Are the Greatest Assets
On the first day of school, the teacher across the hall commented to me that my students are "always so good!" It's not the students; it's the procedures that have proven to work. The First Days of School helps me to manage my class, so that I can be an effective teacher.

»Comedy Highlights from Room K-1! Sue Gruber
»What Will Your Students Remember? Leah Davies
»My Mrs. Krikorian Todd R. Nelson
»Discipline Is a Liberating Word Marvin Marshall
»The Busy Educator's Monthly Five Marjan Glavac
»Help! Too Much Talk! Not Enough Work! Barbara Pressman
»Mayan Sites and Paris Easy on the Purse Josette Bonafino
»The Little Things that Count in Our Schools: Doing Something Different, Simple and Powerful Cheryl Sigmon
»Teacher Morale Matters Dorothy Rich
»Team Management - It’s in the Cards Rick Morris
»Teaching and Learning for the 21st Century Hal Portner

»The Document Camera: A Better Way to Present! Joe Frisk
»Need a Teaching Job? Here’s Where to Find One Alan Haskvitz
»Make Twitter an Ally in the Classroom! Alan Haskvitz
»Teaching Is... Bill Page
»Celebrating True Heroes Graysen Walles
»Digital Pens & Touch-Screens Tim Newlin
»12 Ways to Improve and Enhance Your Paraprofessional- Teacher Experience Susan Fitzell
»May 2009 Writing Prompts James Wayne
»Using Photographs To Inspire Writing VII Hank Kellner
»How to Increase the Number of Physics and Chemistry Majors Stewart E. Brekke
»Bibliotherapy Booklist for Elementary Students Lisa Bundrick
»8 Ways to Make Math Magical at School Steve Sherman
»5 Brainteasers Steve Sherman
»What Will You Do For Shy Kids? Marjie Braun Knudsen

»Apple Seeds: Inspiring Quotes Barb Stutesman
»Today Is... Daily Commemoration Ron Victoria
»The Lighter Side of Teaching
»Photo Tour: 3rd Grade Classroom
»Teacher Blogs Showcase
»Carol Goodrow's Kids Running Printables
»Dolch word activities, end of first grade test, first grade memory book, map and geography lessons for all levels, IEP progress, and graduation ceremonies songs
»Video Bytes; Are You Going to Finish Strong?, Antarctica, Ted Talks - Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?, How Big Is Will?, The Sling Shot Man, Styrofoam Cup vs. Deep Sea
»Live on Teachers.Net: May 2009
»New Teacher Induction Programs
»Newsdesk: Events & Opportunities for Teachers


The Teachers.Net Gazette is a collaborative project
published by the Teachers.Net community
Editor in Chief: Kathleen Alape Carpenter
Layout Editor: Mary Miehl

Cover Story by Matt Levinson

Effective Teaching by Harry & Rosemary Wong

Contributors this month: Matt Levinson, Sue Gruber, Leah Davies, Todd R. Nelson, Marvin Marshall, Marjan Glavac, Barbara Pressman, Josette Bonafino, Cheryl Sigmon, Dorothy Rich, Rick Morris, Hal Portner, Joe Frisk, Alan Haskvitz, Alan Haskvitz, Bill Page, Graysen Walles, Tim Newlin, Susan Fitzell, James Wayne, Hank Kellner, Stewart E. Brekke, Lisa Bundrick, Steve Sherman, Steve Sherman, Marjie Braun Knudsen, Barb Stutesman, Ron Victoria, Rita Sheffield, Carol Goodrow, and YENDOR.

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Susan Fitzell

Archive | Biography | Resources | Discussion

12 Ways to Improve and Enhance Your Paraprofessional- Teacher Experience

The role of the paraprofessional in the classroom is often ill-defined and leaves too much room for interpretation which can contribute to frustration in the relationship between teacher and assistant. Here’s help.
by Susan Fitzell
Regular contributor to the Gazette
May 1, 2009

Does life in the classroom sometimes feel like we've entered into an arranged marriage?

When we find ourselves sharing classroom space with other adults, our experience can feel like a marriage with many of the inherent pros and cons. The paraprofessional-teacher relationship has clear benefits as well as potential challenges. The difficulty is that the role of the paraprofessional in the classroom is often ill-defined and leaves too much room for interpretation which can contribute to frustration in the relationship. What can be done to foster positive relationships between paraprofessionals and teachers? Here are 12 ways to improve and enhance your paraprofessional-teacher experience.

  1. Communicate with each other. One of the most important aspects of an effective working relationship between the paraprofessional, special educator, teacher, or specialist is clear and consistent communication and organization. It is critical to communicate frequently and use organizing tools that can help define roles, define expectations, and set parameters for class norms as part of the process.
  2. While the teacher is up front leading, it is important that the paraeducator moves around the room. This allows him or her to be near their assigned students, but also allows them some space in order to develop independence.
  3. Have a welcome interview with your team. For example a team might be a special educator, a general educator, and a paraprofessional. Learn more about one another and develop an initial understanding of your roles and responsibilities.
  4. It is important to have a harmonious working relationship in the classroom, so the paraprofessional/teacher team should discuss in advance how they will approach lesson planning, student instruction, student behavior, and communication. Questions like 'Who?' and 'How?' and 'When?' are good.
  5. Treat each other as equals - teachers and paraprofessionals are both essential members of the teaching team. As a teacher, I always treated my paraprofessionals with respect and as an equal and that always enhanced my relationships and the effectiveness of the paraprofessionals in my classroom.
  6. Teachers - Empower the paraprofessional to monitor behavior and support the discipline process in the classroom. This empowerment will be worth millions when you must leave the classroom with a substitute knowing that you have challenging students in the room. You will be able to rest more comfortably knowing that the paraprofessional can handle the class and that students will respect that person's authority.
  7. Discuss goals, priorities, and plans with each other on a daily basis. Sometimes this may mean stealing a few minutes of time before class, while students are doing a quiet seat activity or after class. Communication is critical, not only to the success of students in the classroom, but also to the teaching relationship.
  8. Discuss classroom issues with each other, especially when the issue is related to the student the paraprofessional is working with. Teachers and paraprofessionals oftentimes have different views, therefore sharing diverse ideas and possible solutions could be invaluable to a difficult situation.
  9. When an educator (paraprofessional or teacher) is working with a student or several students, avoid interrupting. Interruption undermines the educator's authority with the students and often causes distress and possible conflict.
  10. Take notes and document those notes on easy to remember or easy to use forms or compile them in a binder with rules, expectations, and a syllabus, so that they can be referred to throughout the year. This is critical for paraprofessionals who are working with more than one teacher because each teacher may have different expectations (These forms are available in Susan's Book, Paraprofessionals and Teachers Working Together).
  11. Model how you want things done. For example, model for the paraprofessional how to administer tests, or model the difference between "cuing" a student to remember an answer vs. giving the student the answer.
  12. Provide scripts when necessary to assist in responding to student behavior (Sample scripts are available in the classroom management chapter of Susan's Book, Paraprofessionals and Teachers Working Together).

» More Gazette articles...

About Susan Fitzell...

Susan Fitzell is a nationally recognized speaker and author of several educational resource books. She has over two decades of experience with differentiated instruction, teaching youth with special needs, students with behavioral and anger management issues, and students who experience bullying. Susan’s company, AIMHI Educational Programs, focuses on building caring school communities.

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Susan Fitzell, M. Ed.
Author, Educational Consultant & Professional Speaker
PO Box 6182, Manchester, NH 03103 USA

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