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readandweep readandweep is offline
 
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Aides and cell phones
Old 06-26-2019, 08:28 AM
 
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I teach a self-contained life skills class at a middle school.

Last year was an overall good year, but starting this school year I would like to be more firm with my classroom aides.

I now know that my principal is supportive of me when it comes to aides and my expectations for aides. In the past I have not had that from administrators and, frankly, I let a lot fo stuff go this past year just to get along with everyone.

The two best aides are on my side, but I'm worried that by cracking down on things like having cell phones out, taking breaks in our classroom, coming in late and storing their food in our (tiny) class fridge will turn them against me and make my classroom life miserable.

Does anyone have tips or suggestions for how to deal with this? It feels like trying to get a class of students under control after being too easy on them at the start of the school year.

I have been pretty good about turning school off this summer, but this issue is turning in my head and I just want to come up with a plan and move on.


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Old 06-26-2019, 08:40 AM
 
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I would tackle one thing at a time in the order of importance and be willing to let a few things go until you can get to them. As opposed to doing what your paras may see as a drastic shift.
Id look at the three things:

1- cell phones
2- room/fridge use for staff breaks
3- arriving late

In my school 1 & 3 are addressed as district policy in the staff handbook. Id ask your admin to address these with your para team, and then ask admin how she/he wants you to address it if the policy is not followed.

Id probably personally address #2 because that is more related to your preference and probably previous routine. Id start low key I was thinking about it over the summer and think it would be best for us to use the staff lounge and fridge instead of the room and room fridge because... They might at first be irritated because it is change, but if you can explain why you need the change, that will help. I am a reading specialist (with 6 paras) so dont know about reasons that might be specific to your students/program, but off the top of my head Id think there would be a chance of students getting into staff food, breaks bring interrupted by student needs, and an increased chance to interact with peers throughout the building by making the change to eating in the break room. Be prepared to hear concerns (I eat here because there is a computer I can use to check email, or whatever) and try to address those or talk to someone who can.

Hope this helps!
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Thank you
Old 06-26-2019, 10:10 AM
 
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That is a good point about 1 and 3. I will phrase it like that.
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Old 06-30-2019, 04:07 PM
 
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Agreed with the pp about points 1 and 3. For the fridge, I think you can phrase it like she suggested, but I would also point out that just because they keep their food in the staff lounge doesn't mean they have to eat there. They can always go get the food and eat back in your room if they want, right? It sounds like the only problem is not having room in the fridge.

Another idea is to get them each a little freezer pack. It's not necessary, but would be a gesture of good will and shows that you're trying to think about their needs. I eat in my room, but up to this point have always kept my food in the staff lounge fridge. My teammate who eats with me uses a freezer pack because she'd rather not have to use the lounge at all. I recently happened to be looking for something in the outdoor section at Walmart and picked up 2 for less than $1 each, and I'm going to try that this year instead to avoid the awkwardness of going in and just grabbing my food while others are staying and socializing .
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Related issue
Old 07-01-2019, 03:00 AM
 
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That is a good suggestion Hayley.

I was thinking about what I posted here and I think my issue is that my administration only knows about arriving late and using the cell phone if I report it.

There is very much the mindset that administration is not paying attention to what is going on in our room.

It is not necessarily true, but administration does depend on me to be their eyes on this, fair or not.


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Old 07-07-2019, 04:16 AM
 
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This is the part I dislike about having paras. I feel like a "boss" when I never wanted to be. I don't want to manage adults. I want them to do their job.


The downfall of saying that the school has a cell phone use policy is when they're in the classroom (where admin can't always see them) they feel like it doesn't apply.


OOORRRRR... you could tell a little fib and say that a parent contacted you and complained that their kid said the para is on the phone and it bothered the kid. It's slightly passive but also doesn't make YOU look like the "bad guy".
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Old 07-07-2019, 04:28 AM
 
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I think you hit it on the head about managing paras.

If I am expected to manage them, then let me write them up and have the authority to hire and fire them.
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Old 07-07-2019, 12:15 PM
 
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Quote:
If I am expected to manage them, then let me write them up and have the authority to hire and fire them.
This is what bugs me about paras too. Don't say I'm "in charge" on the one hand and then have me do nothing with their evaluation or have any say as far as hiring/firing. Admin wants it both ways!
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:02 PM
 
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I'm kind of in the same boat. My 1:1 para for my nonverbal autistic student was the b-o-m-b. Being my first year in sped, I didn't know what the hell I was doing period, much less when it came to "managing" another adult. She and I got along well, and had a lot in common, and became friends, which kind of complicated things. She wasn't happy with her job, so I stepped in and did a lot that should have technically been her job as his para because I wanted to keep her happy. She resigned, anyway.

Anyhow, the para they hired to replace her is 20 years older than me. It's going to feel super weird asking her to do things - there's only a 25 year difference between me and my mom. I'm bought a para binder thing off TPT that had a lot of editable things, so I'm going to use some from that. My hope is outlining clear expectations at the beginning of the year will help.
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Old 07-09-2019, 08:11 PM
 
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Anyhow, the para they hired to replace her is 20 years older than me.
My first para was 20 years older than me and had that much more experience too- I was a 3rd year teacher at the time and she had 20+ years in the same position. When I found out, I stressed about it all summer before starting the school year. She turned out to be AMAZING. She had no problem at all with me being the one in charge, and she easily conformed to how I wanted things. Sometimes if I told her I was having trouble with some situation she'd tell me how one of the former teachers handled things, but always made it clear I was welcome to do my own thing as well. People were always telling her she should have been a teacher and she said she preferred not being the one "in charge" and on the hook for all of the decisions. It might be better than you're imagining!


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Old 07-13-2019, 07:28 PM
 
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Amen on not liking being in charge of adults! Plus, even though you have to manage them you are not their boss and some time they think they should be the boss- ack

I agree that the P-who is their actual supervisor (if its the same at your site as mine) where as even though they are your support staff they are your coworkers rather than you being the one they answer to, should be the one to talk with them about school/district police. I would ask the P to do a general reminder with para staff about the policies, and say simply it that it has been noticed that in the mornings ratios are off because of tardiness and phones have been out in the classroom and/or on the playground. If your school is like mine any number of teachers could be doing the noticing as could parents.

Quote:
I was thinking about what I posted here and I think my issue is that my administration only knows about arriving late and using the cell phone if I report it.

There is very much the mindset that administration is not paying attention to what is going on in our room
This is very true, when my admin finally saw an aide taking a 25-30 minute break (not lunch, break it was only a 4 hour work day and she always left 15 minutes early and showed up ten minutes late) She was shocked-she had no idea even though she had done multiple walk-through (I guess she never paid much attention to who was there and who was missing).

While you dont want to be a "tattle tale" and I am sure you feel like its not your job to be the paras warden, you only get to be upset by it if you dont say something.
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