Hi friends as a student teacher it could be difficult to form professional relationships when working with other adults (other than your mentor teacher) in the classroom. This is a great topic to discuss as we just worked through it in our practicum class.
It can be challenging to work with other adults in the classroom especially as a young professional. Sometimes you are working with individuals who are older than you and have more experience this can be difficult to overcome. This week's guest post was written by Anna Wadding who just completed her student teaching. In both of her placements she worked with adults in supporting roles in the classroom. Read more to learn about her experiences and tips.
During student teaching, I spent 8 weeks in a first grade classroom, and 8 weeks in a 2nd and 4th grade Life Skills Support Classroom. In both of these experiences I had the chance to work with paraprofessionals in the classroom setting.
In the first grade class, there were two paraprofessionals that came in every day for about a half an hour for reading intervention time. These caring adults would take students in groups and work with them on skills that they personally needed to improve in reading. Because we were often separated by group, I did not spend a lot of time with the paraprofessionals, but something that I learned by having these paraprofessionals in the classroom was that you need to let your students know that the paras have just as much authority as the teacher. My cooperating teacher would always remind the students that they were to obey the paras, and she would remind the paras that they could use some of the classroom management strategies if they needed to.
Where I really spent a lot of time with paraprofessionals was in the Life Skills Support classroom. There were two paraprofessionals in the classroom at all times, and these two ladies would take the students to lunch, and take them to their special when they had it. When the kids were not in special or at lunch, the ladies were in the classroom, and were helping wherever the teacher needed them to be.
Working in this school, I learned that some paraprofessionals are more excited and willing to help than others are.I learned this through talking with other teachers in the school. Thankfully, in our classroom the paraprofessionals were amazing, and were so willing to help, and so clearly loved the students.
Through working with these ladies every day, I learned that by showing interest in them and learning about them personally, they will work hard for you, and do what you ask them to do.
For example, during recess whenever the students were off playing, I would take the time to ask the ladies about their lives, and why they decided to do this job, and by simply asking questions, the ladies were so much more eager to help me and work with me. The job of a paraprofessional can be challenging because they are working many hours and often go unappreciated, so in order to make the paras feel appreciated, you can just get to know them. I saw this in my cooperating teacher’s behavior with the paras. The rapport that she had with them was incredible, and by her showing her care for these ladies, they would show their care for her and her classroom.
My name is Anna Wadding, I am currently a senior Elementary/Special Education Major at Grove City College. I completed my student teaching experience in the fall of 2018, and now have a few more credits remaining before I become a certified educator! I am from Long Island, New York where I love to spend time with family and friends. I especially love taking my two dogs to the beach, and playing with my little cousins.
So my friends there you have it just getting to know people and by reaching out to them can go a long way. What are some ways that you can form relationships with the adults in your classroom?
Some suggestions I have learned from my student teachers are:
- help paras out in little things like a bulletin board or tracking data
- talk to people - don't be afraid to strike up a conversation
- observe and ask questions