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incognito25 incognito25 is offline
 
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incognito25
 
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Help with interview questions
Old 12-13-2013, 02:00 PM
 
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Hello, I just completed my student teaching this semester and I'm planning to be a para to gain more teaching experience since I had a bad student teaching internship.I am certified to teach but I feel that I need to still test the waters before having a classroom of my own. What kind of questions will they ask certified teachers who are applying as paras? I am so nervous! I need help..


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twin2 twin2 is offline
 
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Old 12-14-2013, 08:28 PM
 
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I am a certified para taking my last year of college to teach. I cannot tell you what kind of questions they might ask a certified teacher wanting to be a para. I can speculate, as you can.
I think you really need to look at what the position entails. Paras at the school I work used to simply be assigned to a grade level and would help all students, with the main focus on meeting IEP accommodations. Otherwise, paras were one on one with intensive needs students. There was a choice.

Now, the school system has told us they will not hire paras when one leaves. They will move paras around to meet the need. That means the grade level paras are gone, and anyone left is a one on one. Paras are stretched thin, meaning some paras have more than one student and in my opinion students who need paras really aren't getting them. Classroom teachers are expected to step up and take care of those students and teach.

Is the position you are interviewing for to work with gen ed as well as spec ed, or is it a one on one position? What is your degree? Do you have a spec ed certification?

How will your degree help you as a para?
Why aren't you going after a teaching position?
They may ask about de-escalation strategies or training you have

Again, I am only speculating about the questions. I wish I really could tell you what they would ask. I would also remind you that you will be making considerably less as a para than as a teacher, and you will likely be evaluated harder because of your teaching certification. The expectations of your job duties may be more than the other paras, and you will not be paid for it. A teacher was hired in as a para and they had her doing guided reading groups and she had to provide lesson plans for those groups. There was no planning time for her either.
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incognito25 incognito25 is offline
 
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Old 12-15-2013, 05:46 AM
 
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Im a gen. Ed major and certified to teach EC-6..however, as I've mentioned I had a bad student teaching experience wherein my mentor teacher wouldn't let me take over the class except when I was being observed by my university supervisor. I didn't teach at all. (Read my first post for more details). I feel that I should be a para so I can work on my teaching skills and gain teaching experience. I really hope that this can help me become a more competent teacher when I have my own classroom in the future.
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twin2 twin2 is offline
 
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I understand
Old 12-15-2013, 04:26 PM
 
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I understand that you had a bad experience as a student teacher. Being a para will certainly put you in a classroom situation, or a community room situation. I definitely feel as a para this has helped me feel more comfortable in the classroom. I do question if it is the right kind of experience though. I am concerned about the experience you would lose.

It really all depends on how paras are utilized at the school you wish to work. Right now at the school I work, paras do not lesson plan, paras are not allowed to cover classes or substitute teach, paras do not sit in on team planning or team meetings. Paras work with special education students, providing accommodations per the IEP. Often, the student works on modified work or even totally different work than the other students are working on. If that is the case, what you focus on is not the lessons the teacher is teaching, but the goals of the IEP for your student. Paras take care of personal needs, toileting included, if that is part of the child's IEP. You wipe more noses and get coughed on more than you would as a teacher. Paras are may be kicked, hit, spit on by special ed students.

If you have student loans, would the pay as a para be enough for you to pay your student loan payment? Right now we depend on my income, so I am fearful at the thought of not getting a teaching position right away. I will be finished mid year too (next year), so this could be my reality. The exception is that the school system makes us quit our jobs to student teach. They will not let us take a leave of absence.

If you are looking for a position to finish out the school year, or to bid time until you can get a teaching position, then go for it. It really is not a bad job, but you will likely work hard and will be paid much less. You will be in the school setting, but it will be different than it would be as a teacher.
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incognito25 incognito25 is offline
 
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Old 12-16-2013, 06:37 AM
 
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I can only hope that by being a para I'll be more prepared to teach. I just need to be more comfortable in a classroom setting since the whole time I was doing my student teaching I was scared and felt very incompetent. I do have student loans and being a para would not be enough to pay the monthly considering all my other bills. However I really don't know where else I can find teaching experience and to improve my teaching skills. should I just get a teaching job and learn in the process even though i dont feel confident? I am so lost


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Old 12-18-2013, 04:24 AM
 
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I hate that you had a hard student teaching experience. My CT was amazing and so supportive, but she had never had a student teacher before and I only taught group lessons twice, then rest of the time she just had me run her small group/guided reading. I didn't know until I started talking to other student teacher friends that it wasn't supposed to be that way.

Anyways...having your own classroom is definitely a dose of reality...or at least it was for me. When I was first hired last year, the moment I stepped into my classroom for the first time, it all hit me at once that everything was on my shoulders. I think being a para will give you good experience. I don't know your whole situation, but it seems like you are not confident in your teaching skills at all, and I think you would be able to observe different teaching styles and methods and hone your own teaching skills while working with a smaller group of kids, which might be less intimidating.

The only problem I forsee is that even being a para is still totally different from being a teacher and having your own class. I have a full-time para in my classroom because I have a large percentage of special needs. She's wonderful and takes care of so much for me, but she doesn't always see what's behind the scenes of teaching. The parent emails to respond to, parent-teacher conferences, progress reports to prepare, assessments to go over, etc.. Not to mention the time it takes to prepare work for stations and planning small groups and making sure that you plan things to target the highest and lowest learners. It's exhausting. It also will make a difference what type of para position you are able to get. In the elementary school I teach at, some paras are assigned to grade levels, like a 2nd or 3rd grade para that goes into multiple classrooms each day and pulls out students for reading instruction or to help with assessments. Some paras are assigned to 1 student only and spend their day taking that student back and forth from the gen. ed. classroom to resource rooms and helping with behavior and data monitoring.

I don't think you should just get a teaching job and try to learn in the process, because in reality, your teacher preparation program in college should have at least somewhat prepared you to be in the classroom. Can you teach at any kind of summer program or volunteer during summer school somewhere in your district to get a little more practice? Can you talk to the school you student taught at or another school in your district about observing or interviewing some teachers to see a better variety of teaching methods? Can you post on here the specific areas that you are concerned with and see if some posters can help with those?
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Old 12-20-2013, 07:14 AM
 
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I already applied as a para at a charter school and I hope I can be a grade level para. My concerns due to my bad teaching experience are not being able to take over the class for a full day, not enough knowledge in lesson planning, don't know about a lot stuff that teachers do in the classroom (input grades, assessments, etc.) I feel like it wasn't fair for me that I only taught the class when my university supervisor observed me..other than that I was just monitoring the class all day every day. (Read my first post for more details.) I still want to try teaching to see if I am cut out to be a teacher. I do have passion working with kids but I don't feel confident and competent since I didn't really have a good teaching experience. I wish we had summer school programs where I can observe teachers and their teaching methods but we don't. I am thinking of being a substitute teacher as well to know what it's like taking over the class a full day. Sometimes I feel like just giving up. But I don't want to waste my degree and license to teach. I don't know what career to pursue if teaching is not for me. But for now I hope that by being a para it will help me get my foot on the door. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
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Old 12-21-2013, 05:57 PM
 
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I think being a para or a sub would present with great experience. Being a para will give you experience with the curriculum, assessment, behavior management to some extent and working with students. Being a sub will give you good experience in classroom management and the daily routine of a classroom. However, neither one can give you the true experience of being a classroom teacher. Planning units, assessments, parent conferences, grading, monitoring, managing and accomodating for IEPS, differentiating lessons, etc... are all things that you really won't get to perfect until you become a teacher, and even then it will take a while to get everything just the way you like it.

I don't think you should give up, you haven't even started yet To me, being a para would be better experience than being a sub. Hopefully you get to be a grade level para and work with some great teachers that can give you direction. If not, then look into subbing. You could also try applying for teaching positions too. Everyone is nervous before they start teaching, but it's hard to say whether you are nervous or just not very well prepared, either through student teaching or through your college program. On one hand, you'll never know if you are cut out to be a teacher until you try it, but on another hand, you don't want to spend a year completely overwhelmed and have your students suffer because you're not providing what they need.

In my district, we have some alternative programs for students with special needs or students with behavioral problems. These programs often provide teachers for 2-3 students so they get more individualized instruction. Do you have anything like this in your area that you could start out with? It might be less pressure than an entire classroom.
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incognito25 incognito25 is offline
 
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Old 12-22-2013, 04:11 PM
 
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Thanks AnotherTeach. Actually we don't have those kinds of alternative programs. However I just got hired as a tutor at Sylvan learning and I am hoping that this will also give me good experience. I was almost gonna give up but you're right I haven't even started. Hopefully I can be a grade level para and learn what it's like to be a teacher because I really don't know anything about the curriculum, lesson planning, etc. I feel like I've been cheated out of my student teaching experience (read my first post for more details) but I am praying and hoping that by being a para I can gain more knowledge and experience. I really wanna give it a try. I have passion for kids and I wanna make a difference in children's lives. I just felt like my student teaching experience didn't really prepare me to be a teacher at all. But I am not gonna lose hope. I pray that things will get better.
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