In this session we will start by reviewing the roles & responsibilities of teachers and paraeducators. We will then discuss the definition of a team and look closely at the Team Formation Cycle. We will finally explore a variety of tools to assist in communication between the teacher and paraeducator and tools for planning for classroom instruction.
Remember, when discussing roles and responsibilities it is important for all parties (teacher & paraeducator) to be aware of each others duties.The teacher is responsible for planning and providing INITIAL instruction for students. The teacher also develops classroom management and routines as well as develops individual behavior plans. The teacher MUST ensure that the paraeducator understands classroom routines and behavior plans thoroughly. The teacher is responsible for determining appropriate accommodations and modifications, as well as ensuring the accommodations and modifications used are understood by the paraeducator. The teacher also determines assessments to be given and analyzes any assessment data. The teacher is responsible to ensure the paraeducator is appropriately trained in assessment procedures before administering any assessment. Also, remember as the teacher of record, you are responsible for planning co-teaching activities with general education teachers.The paraeducator is responsible for assisting students by reviewing previously taught skills and reteaching concepts as needed. The paraeducator plays a vital role in implementing classroom routines and assisting with data collection. The teacher MUST ensure the paraeducator is trained in and understands the data collection process for each students behavioral concerns. The paraeducator may also assist the teacher in the preparation and construction of instructional materials. With proper training, the paraeducator may also assist in administration of assessments… particularly with progress monitoring data collection. Finally, the paraeducator plays a vital role in supervision of students. This role is frequently assigned by site based administrators.
Information from InteractionsCollaboration Skills for School Professionals by Marilyn Friend & Lynne CookThis chart illustrates the process in which teams form. Your partnership with your paraeducator(s) follows this process as well. Follow chart with a pointer as discussing each stage.
Each of us communicates differently, and so do the paraeducators we work with. It is essential that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses in communication as well as those of the paraeducators you work with. Communication is essential for building rapport and establishing relationships. The more positive the relationship and rapport between the teacher and the paraeducator, the more effective the team will be with meeting the needs of students.Unilateral Communication – one-way: the communicator provides information to another, no face-to-face interaction occurs and the recipient can not question the communicator. Examples of one-way communication include television, written messages, recorded lectures, and announcements.Directive Communication – face-to-face messages from one to another, the recipient indicates comprehension. Many interactions between teachers and students are examples of directive communication.Transactional Communication – two-way, reciprocal interaction – simultaneous sending and receiving of messages. Examples of this include interpersonal communication (such as talking with a good friend or respected colleague). This type of communication should be the goal for professional interactions.
In order to communicate effectively, it is important to be self-aware of our own ability to understand others.Each individual involved in communication has an individual Frame of Reference. This is made up of our past experiences, attitudes and beliefs, personal qualities, feelings, expectations, and our professional role. Cultural identity also has an impact on an individual’s Frame of Reference. Various cultures value different characteristics such as individualistic (which is a focus on individuals) or collectivistic (a focus on the group). These areas impact how we deliver messages as well as how we create meaning from what others say. Selective Perception – Is the conscious or unconscious decision to focus on certain pieces of information while ignoring others. A persons Frame of Reference will guide what they choose to focus on in communication. For example, if you are a firm “believer” in a phonics only instructional approach to reading… you will be selective in how you perceive the discussion on a Literature Rich or Whole Language approach to teaching reading. Or a strong republican would have difficulty in hearing the speech of a democrat with an open mind or vice versa.BE WARNED… your own frame of reference can interfere with your ability to understand the communication of others.
Communication skills should be looked at individually and practiced much like we practice vocabulary when learning a new language or practicing various elements of a new skill. Communication mastery is developed by acquiring and practicing discrete communication behaviors.Listening – use of verbal and non verbal skills – foundation of all relationships. Listening is the primary method for gathering information and letting others know that you are interested in what they are communicatingWhat can impact effective listening? Daydreaming – we can listen more efficiently than a speaker can speak… so our minds can wander Rehearsing a Response – rather than focusing on the entire message, listeners often think ahead to what they will say… often missing important information. Stumbling on “hot” words – hearing words than can trigger a strong emotional response in yourself Filtering Messages – if you do not want to listen to a topic or feel it is irrelevant to you Distraction – focusing on information not relevant to the message… examples would include speaking with a stranger who is dressed unusually or even listening to someone with a speech impairmentNonverbal Communication – important information is transmitted withoutwords every time you communicate! This includes body language and voice. Communication break down: 7% verbal, 38% voice, AND 55% the speaker’s facial expression! Nonverbal communication is also made up of body movements, spatial relations, vocal cues (pitch, tone, volume, pacing, use of silence), and minimal encouragers (such as hand gestures or statements such as “hmmm” or “uh huh”)
Statements – used to deliver information to othersDescriptive Statements – outline events or experiences without giving advice or evaluating EX “When you worked with Mary on addition, you modeled the problem and then watched as she solved the next problem.”Guiding Statements - direction actions by evaluating or advising EX “Its best when you give Tom 5 min. to calm down before asking him to get out his book.’Statements that confirm or clarify information – paraphrasing, reflecting, summarizing, and checking EX “You told me that Levi needed 4 verbal prompts to begin the assignment.”Questions – used to verbally request information. Questions should be well-phrased in order to gain the information being sought. We ask questions to seek information, to provide information (such as evaluative questions like, “What made you think a strategy like that would work with a kid like Johnny?”), and to clarify information (such as, “so do I understand correctly that you would prefer a written plan?”).Precise Language – limits miscommunication due to vague language. Concrete statements such as, “I’d like you to monitor Johnny’s ability to keep his hands and feet to himself while he is at recess.” rather than, “Watch Johnny at recess.” Neutrality – conveys a nonjudgmental, accepting attitude. Ex. “I’ve noticed you walk around the room while giving directions.” rather than, “You walk around the room too much.”Silence – can be beneficial to communication. Think of it as protecting verbal “space.” Limits interruptions and over talking by one individual. Allows for time to process information.Giving Verbal Feedback – effective verbal feedback to your paraeducator should be descriptive (rather than evaluative), specific, directed towards changeable behaviors/situations, concise, and clear. Feedback is of course most effective when someone has asked for it. When it is unsolicited the receiver may feel defensive which will influence how they perceive the information.
There are many ways to encourage communication opportunities between yourself and your paraeducator. To make the most of your limited time utilize meeting agendas to ensure communication stays focused.
This is a sample of a Teacher-Paraeducator Communication Log. There is space for the paraeducator to record the individual students / or groups of students they work with, list the activity, and record any comments or concerns. This would be a good place to record student progress monitoring information as well as cues and prompts used by the paraeducator. This type of communication log would be beneficial for the teacher and paraeducator team that spends a great deal of time away from each other in various general education settings or for the paraeducator to use when accompanying students to specials such as music or library. This communication log provides a method for teachers to monitor student progress.A copy of this Teacher-Paraeducator Communication Log may be found in Session 2 Handouts.
The teacher’s primary role includes designing the instructional environment which includes decision making about goals, benchmarks, designing instructional sequence and activities as well as evaluating the effectiveness of instruction.The paraeducator in turn assists in the development of materials and assists in implementing portions of instruction (particularly preteaching, review, and reteaching of concepts).A great analogy for this is to think about the medical profession. In the hospital a doctor completes the assessment of the patient and determines the course of treatment. The nurse and other professionals administer the treatments as prescribed by the doctor.
Maintaining Written documentation of plans is essential. It is an efficient way to communicate expectations and to provide documentation of instruction. A written lesson plan will also facilitate discussion and communication between the teacher and the paraeducator. A written plan can serve as a reference tool for all members of a student’s educational team. A written plan will reduce misunderstanding between the teacher and the paraeducator in terms of expectations and acceptable student performance.Also, having a written plan for the paraeducator will increase the amount of time during the day that both yourself and your paraeducator will spend with students.
Good lesson plans are precise, easy to read, and should be easy to write. An effective plan specifies the purpose of the task or lesson, the steps to take when completing the lesson, and identifies specific student needs that need to be addressed throughout the lesson. The plan must also include the materials that are to be used, procedures, and the type or level of performance that will demonstrate student achievement. It is also important for the paraeducator to know how the individual activity or plan fits under the larger overall goal for the student. Remember, we are not asking you to write additional plans… but instead asking that you look at how the plans you already write meet the needs of all individuals who access the lesson plans. Ask yourself, “Can the paraeducator tell what they will be required to do throughout the day or lesson by looking at my plans? If not, how can I adjust my current plans to allow for this?”For example, if you have a student with multiple impairments and you are attempting to introduce them to a communication device that will require purposeful movement of his right arm… it would be important for the paraeducator who is working with the student to understand this overall goal. A plan for working with this student should have a location to document the number of opportunities the student had to practice the skill, and the number of times the skill was performed with our without cueing and/or prompting.
Other information that you must consider when planning with and for your paraeducator is his or her level of experience. More experienced paraeducators, may need less detail in the plans you write. The paraeducator’s educational background as well as your rapport with the paraeducator will determine the level of comfort both yourself and the paraeducator have with various instructional situations.Also, it is important to consider the complexity and structure of the task. Especially if the task is a new one for the student or for the paraeducator. More detail will minimize miscommunication and inappropriate instruction given to the student.
As professionals we’ve all developed our own forms and methods for planning. We often collect ideas from others and modify them to meet our own classroom needs. There are some important components to keep in mind when developing a planning form. First is Ease-of-Use. For some of us this means a template on the computer, while others prefer handwritten plans. Either way you need to determine what works best for you. Forms must meet your individualized needs. These needs may change from year to year based on students and/or schedules.Forms must also be User-Friendly, particularly when thinking of the paraeducator. The form must be easily read, it must provide the necessary information, and it is helpful if it provides a method for feedback on the effectiveness of the lesson or activity as well student performance.
This plan is designed for a paraeducator working with a student in a general education environment. The special education teacher has taught the student to utilize the RAP and 2 Column-Note strategies. This plan provides a list of steps for the paraeducator to follow to monitor and assist the student’s use of these strategies in his Science and Social Studies classes. The paraeducator is given information on what to do if the student requires prompting, how to cue the student using note cards, and how to document prompts used.
This plan describes the steps required for an individual student to choose an activity and maintain attention to the activity for a 10 minute period. The steps expected of the student are clearly defined. A chart is provided for the paraeducator to collect data on how the student performs. Prompts are clearly defined by verbal, physical, hand-over-hand, or independent. The teacher will be able to review this data to determine how the student is performing on this particular goal.
Individuals responsible for each group are identifiedthrough a color coding system. A key is provided for any abbreviations used in the plan. Objectives are identified as well as procedures. Details have been added to ensure the “Counting On” lesson is understood by the paraeducator. There is also a place for notes. In the notes section, documentation can be maintained about student performance, cueing, and prompting.
What we choose to document and put into writing will vary a great deal from one teacher or program to another. Remember, you are the professional who sets the stage for the educational environment in your own classroom. A Daily Schedule should tell who is doing what, when they are to do it, and where. The Daily Schedule should be posted publicly and used to assist team members in knowing what routines they are responsible for. Remember… A daily schedule does not replace a written plan of instruction.Accommodation Checklists – An accommodation “cheat sheet” can be helpful to paraeducators who assist students in the general education environment. You can develop lists for individual students or a basic list of accommodations by subject area. There should be a method for the paraeducator to communicate with you about which accommodations were used for students during instruction. An IEP Quick Reference tool is good way to communicate with the paraeducator the basic goals, accommodations, modifications, and behavior plans that are in place for individual students. As an active participant in the instruction of students with disabilities, the paraeducator should be aware of the items on students IEPs. Samples of these forms may all be found in the Handouts for Session 2 in Moodle. The samples are provided in a .pdf format to ensure everyone can view the documents for this course. Each sample is available in a word document, which can be modified to fit your individual classroom needs, in a separate link within the Moodle session.
Session 2 in Moodle contains links to course handouts (which includes power points and samples), assigned readings, and references.
For the Paraeducator Orientation Notebook assignment for Session 2, you are asked for 3 components.Component 1 – write a brief overview (2 - 5 sentences) describing how you plan to communicate with the paraeducator(s) in your program or at your school site.Component 2 – Choose a planning tool presented in this lesson or create your own to demonstrate how you will plan a lesson with your paraeducator in mind.Component 3 – Choose the communication tool (Teacher-ParaeducatorComunication Log) from this session or create your own to use for communication between yourself and your paraeducator.You will upload each of these components in the Paraeducactor Orientation Notebook section of the Moodle course for session 2. (Remember you access this session by scrolling to the bottom of the Moodle course) If using sample from the course, you will want to save the file on your own computer, make any necessary changes, and then upload the file according to the Moodle directions. Also, please be prepared to discuss how you would incorporate these tools in your TEAM relationships with your paraeducatorin our Session 2 LIVE session .
Learner Outcomes for Session 2a<br />Review roles & responsibilities of teachers and paraeducators<br />Define team<br />Understand the team formation cycle<br />Explore tools to assist in communication and planning in the classroom<br />
Roles & Responsibilities<br />Teacher<br /><ul><li> Plans and provides initial instruction to students
Assists in supervision of students</li></li></ul><li>What is a team? <br />A group of individuals from a variety of disciplines and experiences joining together to reach a specific goal through shared problem solving. <br />Teams must have clear and direct communication, interdependence, coordination, and clear procedures.<br />Interactions Collaboaration Skills for School Professionals <br />by Friend & Cooke<br />
Stages of Team Development<br />Forming<br />Polite<br />Impersonal<br />Watchful<br />Guarded<br />Storming<br />Conflicts Control<br />Confronting<br />Opting Out<br />Difficulties<br />Feeling Stuck<br />Adjourning<br />Tasks are Complete<br />End of School Year<br />Norming<br />Developing Skills<br />Establishing Procedure<br />Giving Feedback<br />Confronting Issues<br />Performing Resourceful<br />Flexible<br />Open<br />Effective<br />Supportive<br />
Communication Types<br />Unilateral Communication<br />Directive Communication<br />Transactional Communication<br />
Understanding Communication<br />Frame of Reference<br />Selective Perception<br />
Understanding Communication <br />Listening<br />Nonverbal Communication<br />
Planning<br />Teacher = design the instructional environment<br />Para = assists in developing materials & implementing portions of the instruction<br />Managing Paraeducators in Your School by Nancy K. French<br />
Importance of a Written Lesson Plan<br />Efficient<br />Documentation<br />Reference<br />Limits misunderstandings<br />Increases instructional time with students<br />Encourages communication<br />
Components of a Written Lesson Plan<br />Purpose of task, lesson, or accommodation<br />Long-term student goals, short term objectives<br />Specific student needs / strengths<br />Materials/ / resources<br />Sequence of actions, use of cues or prompts, permissible accommodations<br />Data structure for documenting student performance<br />
Important Information to Consider<br />Paraeducator experience<br />Complexity of the task<br />Structure of the activity<br />Comfort level<br />
Some Notes on Planning Forms<br />No SINGLE planning form works for everyone!<br />You must consider<br />Ease-of-Use <br />Individualized<br />User-Friendly<br />
Sample Plans: Working with Students in a General Education Environment<br />Plan adapted from Managing Paraeducators in Your School by Nancy K. French<br />
Sample Plans: Plans For an Individual Student<br />Adapted from Managing Paraeducators in Your School by Nancy K. French<br />