The first week of school is here for most and here comes the challenging changes that you might just not be quite ready for. One devastating transition for me was when staff had to leave or got injured and the training for a new para or aide commenced.
Some schools give you time with the staff in your classroom to have trainings, but some do not. Here are some tips and tricks that helped me quickly give information to the staff when needed.
1. Ask your admin if you can have 30 minutes, once a month for trainings or meetings with your classroom staff.
Administrators should be supportive of this!! This isn't too long of a time to ask for. It is so important that you and the staff feels confident supporting the students in your classroom and the administrators should be supportive of that. If they do approve this once a month, 30-minute training, make sure that you have a quick presentation, or handouts, ready to go over the information quickly. And leave time for questions.
2. Use prezi to make free presentations
Prezi can make fun presentations that you can either bring around to each staff member when you both have a couple of free minutes to go over OR you can email them the presentation to look at when they have some time. (Below is an actual example of one of my presentations I made on Prezi!)
3. Find 5 minute increments in your day to check-in with the staff.
I strongly believe that EVERY teacher should be an aide BEFORE becoming a teacher. I was a one-on-one aide for two years and it gave me such a different perspective of the aides in my classroom once I was the teacher. I was very aware of how much of the grunt work fell on the aides. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. As an aide, I would grow resentful of all the "breaks" teachers got, going to meetings, talking to the service providers, and assessing one student at a time.
Yes, I became a teacher and was like.. holy cow this is stressful, but that discussion is for another time.
What I am saying now, is that your classroom needs to work as a team to be successful. You as the teacher, is the leader, and leaders succeed when their team succeeds.
4. Have a staff corner
In all of my classrooms we had an area that was only for the support staff. It had binders with information of the students, their schedules, their breaks, and announcements. They also had their own "work" trays. If copies needed to made, or work needed to be prepped, it would be added to their tray. Little things like this made communication quick and easy. Gave everyone something to do. And gave us our space.
I would also have poster reminders around the support staff space on things we would be working on this week. One time we had a poster that said "Allow them to fail." This was the reminder for the staff that our students also have to mess up and try again.
Here is another cute idea! (click on the image to be redirected to the Learning Lab)
5. Listen to their concerns and work together on challenges
I am going to be completely transparent here, this is not my best trait. I like this going fast and taking the time to listen to my staff's concerns sometimes felt tiring and not productive. Why wouldn't everyone just obey me?! The same reason I don't "obey" others. We all have our own opinions and to work well as a team, we need to work together.
This is a whole mindset situation too. You just finished your teaching program and you're ready to change the world. But you have three paras in your classroom you have been there for decades and know how to run the class. This is another time where slow and steady wins the race. Inclusion also needs to be something your aides want too. Listen to their concerns. Help them anyway you can. And get that successful new school year going!
Inclusion Starts With You
and I just want to help.