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tntworth's Message:

Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but:

I've been a para for 17 years. I have hundreds of hours of prof. dev. and feel like I'm well trained on every program I teach. Also, I spend hours researching and developing materials that my K-6 students need.

Yesterday, a teacher that comes in two days a week for speech asked how things were going in Title 1. I was very excited to tell her that we had switched things around school wide and that in one grade I had the higher kids and was able to do a novel study with them.

Her comment was this: "Well that's how it should be. I've never understood why schools put the least qualified staff with the lowest functioning students. "

I can see her point if we were not as well trained as we are. Was she insensitive or am I making too much of her comment?

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
Flappy 11-29-2013 05:22 AM

RtI provides structure that dictates many of our decisions in education but I have never heard it used as justification for rude and insensitive comments.

Obtaining a degree requires money, hard work, and dedication. If you choose to measure your success in life by your degree, that's fine. But if you want to look down your nose at others if they haven't reached your level of success, don't be surprised if the cab driver takes you the long way around, the waitress spits in your food, the janitor takes days to change the lightbulb and the para moves like a snail.

Paramedics save lives every day. The fool who wants to wait for the person with the advanced degree could end up dead.

We can treat each other with respect and create a great learning environment for our students or we can be rude and make everyone miserable.

TwistingTeach 11-27-2013 10:13 PM

Tact is a lost art for some people (if they ever had it at all). What she said to you was rude and insensitive. She needs a filter. Just because she she was thinking it doesn't mean the words had to come out of her mouth. If she really had to express her feelings about the situation to someone, it didn't have to be you. She seems like one of those people who doesn't know how to talk to others.

kample 11-27-2013 10:43 AM

if you don't want to get the degree, don't complain about how others view paraprofessionals. You can't have it both ways.

TheTrunch 11-27-2013 08:21 AM

What a jerk! Yes, it's true that the credentialed teachers should be working with the lower students. However, her comment was stupid. What she should have said was, "The children are so fortunate to have you working with them."

That woman has not a clue, so don't bother thinking about it. She is the low student when it comes to relationships.

tntworth 11-26-2013 07:48 PM

go back to school and get the teaching degree. I see how teachers are treated and would never subject myself to that at 54 years old. My heart goes out to the teachers that did get the education. I hope you all feel supported and loved and love what you do.

kample 11-26-2013 08:50 AM

go back to school and get the degree.

Mr. Big 11-22-2013 11:38 AM

find the response rude. I may agree with the concept of training and lowest students needing most qualified, but it was rude.

SpeedLimit62 11-20-2013 04:04 PM

I have to agree with the last 2 posters.

The students who are in the most need, need the most research based and systematic instruction. Often times this instruction is only taught to qualified teachers (sped teachers and reading specialists most of the time, but not all). That's not to say that para-pros are not valuable and necessary it's just to say that sometimes these specific instructional strategies are only taught under the guidance of advanced coursework.

The speech teacher definitely could have phrased her comment better. There is no need to say "the least qualified staff" because that is not necessarily true. Perhaps, she should have worded it differently. I definitley don't think that para's are under-qualified, least qualified, or bad teachers. I think they can be amazing at what they do.

I also don't understand why you would have to be spending outside work time, researching and developing outside materials. This is definitely not something I have my para's do. What I may have them do is take time to prepare materials during prep's or other time during class, but it is not in their job description to spend hours at home developing and researching material. That is my job as the lead teacher. You definitely aren't paid enough to take on all this extra responsibility. Does you lead teacher rely on you to plan lessons, make materials, etc.?

r9miles 11-17-2013 10:28 AM

Agree with above post

cndg 11-17-2013 07:05 AM

I worked as a para while I went to school and finished a masters in special education. I have been a teacher for a number of years and supervise four (very experienced ) paras.
I see the teacher's point because in many districts the para's end up doing teaching that they have not been adequately trained for and do not have the background for (compared to teachers training). However more important, they are not being given the time, resources and access (and pay!) that teachers have to develop what they are teaching. I always thought that it is much harder to have the responsibility of implementing someone else's planning than having responsibility for planning and implementation. Of course there are also plenty paras who are given a student with vague instructions and somehow have to make it work without being able to do any real decision making -that is the hardest and least thankful job of them all in my opinion.
It is wonderful that you do a lot of planning yourself in your free time, but you should not have to do that. In the end I think it does not come down to qualified or not , it comes down to different job descriptions.

r9miles 11-16-2013 02:30 PM

By your argument I learned nothing in college. I beg to differ.
Thus my paramedic son is as qualified as my doc?

MY RS program was rigorous and as a result I am definitely more qualified than a paraprofessional.

yesteach 11-16-2013 02:13 PM

Doesn't make you more qualified, neither does being a "specialist." Some of the best teachers I know have no degree at all... teaching is more than data and "research based" programs. Two more years, and I'm out of this factory based, data driven nonsense public education has become...then I'm opening a school, and teach again!

I'm sorry to the OP for getting off topic, but I'm so tired of people thinking more degrees make you a better teacher...they don't.

r9miles 11-16-2013 12:56 PM

She was not being insensitive. She understands the most effective format for RTI.

All your PD and research, although important doesn't negate that being a teacher requires a bachelors degree thus making them more qualified than you to work with the most dysfunctional students .


I am the reading specialist at my school. In order to qualify for the job I had to acquire a Master's degree and an additional certification of Reading Specialist. Thus at my school the SPED teachers and I work with the lowest students. The gen ed teachers with the next level and my paras with the highest achieving level providing enrichment. This is because during the acquisition my advanced degree I learned that the most effective implementation of RTI is the most qualified work with the lowest functioning students . This says nothing about how qualified you are as a paraprofessional. Just that you definitely are not the most qualified. When my daughter had brain surgery I expected the most qualified neurosurgeon to do her surgery most certainly not a highly qualified medical assistant .


I have two paras with more than 25 years experience. Never do they presume to be more qualified than I. I respect them, we plan together, and I am continually training them so they are able to take things to the next level. But make no mistake I am responsible making sure our lowest students receive the most strategic intensive interventions to prevent them for qualifying for SPED if possible.


She wasn't being insensitive. She was praising your school for putting in place the most effective model of RTI.


Can you see I am sensitive to the undervaluing of education teachers earn?

MzMar 11-07-2013 05:23 AM

As a sub, I know what kind of treatment you are talking about. Also as a sub, I have been in many schools and in the great majority, the paras hold the school together. I also see that there are "highly qualified" teachers who don't know how to teach and don't care. There are paras who are so dedicated that they influence test scores for the better and touch lives with their caring and attention to the learner's needs. Thanks to you for giving so much for so little pay in return!

twin2 11-05-2013 07:04 PM

Its hard as a para to be treated that way. Even if you were not as trained as you are, that comment should have never been made to you. She was insensitive.

I am four classes (and student teaching) away from my degree. Some teachers respect me and understand that I am qualified to do quite a bit with their students. Our past administration recognized that fact as well. Then there are those teachers believe paras are mere babysitters.

tntworth 11-04-2013 02:59 PM

Thank you both for the replies. That comment has really been bothering me until today while progress monitoring. ALL my kids that I've tested so far have made great growth. I think she might really not know how much training we get. Anyway, thanks again. You really made me feel better.

subczy 11-04-2013 01:21 PM

She certainly made assumptions. Geesh. I see that some in our dist. They assume paras are fresh out of high school. well, there are a few but most have world experience and many have college experience if nto degrees. Some are retired teachers. that teacher's assumptions will bite her rump someday. Don't worry, karma will get her.

substeph 11-03-2013 04:20 PM

No, it was a rude comment. I am a certified teacher working as a para because I can't find a teaching job but there are plenty of paras with a lot of experience and training and I don't understand why she would say that they are the "least qualified". I don't blame you for having your feelings hurt. But, as long as you enjoy your job and are making a difference with your students then it doesn't matter what she says.

tntworth 10-30-2013 04:39 PM

Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but:

I've been a para for 17 years. I have hundreds of hours of prof. dev. and feel like I'm well trained on every program I teach. Also, I spend hours researching and developing materials that my K-6 students need.

Yesterday, a teacher that comes in two days a week for speech asked how things were going in Title 1. I was very excited to tell her that we had switched things around school wide and that in one grade I had the higher kids and was able to do a novel study with them.

Her comment was this: "Well that's how it should be. I've never understood why schools put the least qualified staff with the lowest functioning students. "

I can see her point if we were not as well trained as we are. Was she insensitive or am I making too much of her comment?




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