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Lmc762's Message:

I couldn't agree with you more. I had a similar situation last year, but I wasn't working with that population. I would document the para. Everything. Do you have a SPED director or supervisor?

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
readandweep 02-19-2020 03:51 AM

I second what pdx teacher said and I so understand. I have worked in schools where even regular-ed teacher are told "just teach the standards."

I have also worked with paras who just don't get it. Either they think self-contained kids watch movies and play with toys all day long or they call kids lazy because it took them six months to learn four sight words, even though they have significant cognitive impairments.

In addition to what pdx suggested, I would recommend some social emotional learning lessons and projects. This link has some free ideas for middle school and high school.

Also with the groups and rotations I would suggest looking at IEPs and grade levels and making your rotation groups from that. Maybe whole group is an SEL lesson, but small group/independent work on or near grade level.

There is a post on the vent board under the title Teaching at an Alternative School. One of the responses is from a teacher who attended an effective alternative program as a kid. I think some of the things that motivated her as a student could still work.

If your administration was more involved and supportive, I might suggest implementing a points or level system for students to work for privileges in the classroom and the school. I would feel it out. Maybe your para can be in charge of documenting and maintaining a point system you set up.?

pdxteacher 02-18-2020 07:10 PM

Yikes, you're between a rock and a hard place. I get the whole "behavior before academics" thing, but I think that doesn't work well when students don't have anything to do. If they are bored, there are going to be behaviors. What does your supervisor say you are supposed to be using/doing? It's a little mind-boggling to me that you literally have nothing - that sounds like the first problem to address.

Bored = behaviors in my self-contained classroom. I'm definitely not saying that everything has to be fun and exciting, but you know the saying about idle hands.

And, just so I don't leave you with just a problem, here are some ideas. Run a couple of "rotations" during the day. For reading you could run a novel study - check out a small set of books from your school library - even if every student can't read at grade level you/your paras can read aloud & discuss. While that's going on another group of students could be working on spelling words from the text or creating personal dictionaries with vocabulary words. You can probably also google the book you're reading and find some free worksheets to pair with it. is a free resource for leveled reading passages with paired questions.

For math rotations you can divide students into groups to work on computation skills using small whiteboards - you can model how to do a problem/solve together, then create problems as a group. Do you have access to some chromebooks? A second group could do math-based computer games.

The idea is the activities are relatively engaging and students know what they should be doing, while not being so challenging that behaviors are born of frustration. Then you can legit say you're working on behaviors above academics.

MnToCa 02-18-2020 05:30 PM

I think maybe I should have my supervisor and myself meet with her and explain we are behaviors first then academics.

Speaking of academics. What would I even use to teach them? We donít have books or curriculum. I just pull random things off of the internet to give to them.

FarmWife4 02-18-2020 11:38 AM

I taught self contained ED junior high for 4 years in my career. There were days that much didn't get done, but then there were days we could be productive. Maybe go back to the basics of teaching students there are rules before anything else would help. Establish rules and routines within your classroom, focus all of your lessons around these procedures for a week. Gain back your student's trust so that you can establish a classroom that is tolerable. Make your para in charge of helping establish this within the classroom. Paras can be difficult to work with, but if you can somehow get her to understand that you have the same goal in mind, maybe everyone can get on the same page. I always say that the adults are way harder to work with than my students. I have had up to 5 paras in my classroom at one time and it is constantly putting out fires between them!

teabreak 02-17-2020 05:37 PM

ED/BD classrooms are not traditional classrooms for sure. Is your main focus academic or behavioral? Being able to really answer this question may help you with the para. One of our ED classrooms at our high school, the teacher will say, "We are focusing on how to be a decent human being first, building trusting relationships, and then working on academic." This is because, you can't generally get ED kids to the academic part without addressing the behavior first. If this is the case, then you can tell the para you are both working on building strong positive relationships with the kids first.

If your focus is academic, then your para is correct in some of the things they are saying. Your program may be a ####show, but you can remedy that. Don't be afraid to do what is right for your students.

Lmc762 02-17-2020 01:56 PM

I couldn't agree with you more. I had a similar situation last year, but I wasn't working with that population. I would document the para. Everything. Do you have a SPED director or supervisor?

MnToCa 02-17-2020 11:53 AM

But it really does come from above us.

I try to teach lessons, but students refuse to listen and cooperate. We also donít have any curriculum, so I rely on things I find online to use as a tool for teaching, including documentaries and videos.

Letís be honest, I am a teacher who is teaching 7 different subjects to 9 students all on different academic levels, and I have zero experience or college credits in teaching any of those subjects.

On top of that, our students know our admin doesnít care about them, he doesnít even know the students names in my classroom.

My point is, my para needs to understand this and understand that we are doing what we can with what we are given.

Tiamat 02-16-2020 12:30 PM

Why is your program a #### show? Why aren't you teaching lessons? Why are you just showing documentaries? Why are there no expectations, procedures or consequences?

I know these things may be out of your control, but it wouldn't hurt to sit back and really examine these questions so you have answers for her and, if it does all comefrom above, make sure she knows that.

MnToCa 02-16-2020 11:30 AM

I am extremely stressed out with my new paraprofessional.

A little background information.

I work in a setting 4 EBD high school classroom. We donít have curriculum, our students donít have enough chromebooks for all students, students have zero expectations with behaviors due t having zero procedures and follow through.

The problem that I have now is they hired a new paraprofessional for my room who doesnít understand what kind of #### show my school/program is, so she constantly is questioning me in front of my students.

She questions why we show documentaries instead of teaching lessons for science or social studies. She asks in front of students what is the point of using online curriculum and programs to teach math or English. She says if they are going to use online programs, they should just skip school and stay home and do it at home. She has even made comments to my students that ďthe reason we are watching a video is because Iím allowing (my name) to do his own thing. So she basically is acting like Iím not doing my job in front of my students.

In private she has told me that I donít do anything for my students. She said if she was one of the parents she would hate me as her kids teacher. She insults me and judges me to my face .

I have gone to my administration about this, but as you can imagine, my program is a complete #### show so nothing gets done.

I am unsure what I should do. I need this job for the remainder of the school year, but everyday I cannot stand being in my classroom any longer. My para has turned most of my students against me too with how she talks about me not only with me there but behind my back.

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