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Old 05-08-2016, 04:40 AM
 
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I am still reeling from the effects I have endured while working as a paraprofessional. I have had three jobs thus far and am still at the current one.
In all three of the jobs, I have hardly felt respected and this was so different from what I had expected. I am a single Mom in my forties pursuing my Master's degree, and I thought this would be a nice way to spend my days (while earning money) and learn at the same time. This is what I expected: I would blend in so nicely and they would all notice my skills with the kids and otherwise and I will be treated well and we would all work together. This is what I actually experienced: feeling completely sidelined and like an "other," not allowed to do things that were so simple (like watching the class for five minutes, walking the classmates from one class to the other, etc.) and only being allowed to focus on the child I was there for; many times not being offered food when people or kids came around to offer something, and not being included in most things. I am shocked beyond belief that this was my experience. My agency states in its guidebook, that you are only allowed to focus on the child you are there for. But what if there is little to nothing to do and you are only there for mostly legal purposes? I have encountered much resistance to participating and helping. I thought that if someone offered their help with things (like printing, grading, or anything they need help with) that people would gobble it up. So one teacher did give me some things to do, but in this current job the two aides that work with the teacher looked like they would kill me if I would help so I just backed off. I am so hurt from these experiences, I have never encountered anything like it in positions that I've held before in daycares and schools as an assistant to the teacher and I was actually given tons and tons to do, even after work (and I loved it). How do I recover from this slighted feeling I have as a paraprofessional?


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My experience
Old 05-09-2016, 07:53 AM
 
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I was a para for nine years. When I first started, I was a grade level para. I worked in every class in my assigned grade level, pulled groups, and did my own lesson planning. I used to stay late getting things together. I used to volunteer at after school events. I used to come to school concerts. Over the years, especially with the more recent legislation, more was taken away from me and the other paras at our school. We were assigned to specific students, usually as a one-on-one for a specific student. We were not allowed in the building before the official start of duty day and they expected us to walk out exactly at the end of duty day. At one point, the principal made an announcement thanking paras for their hard work, but it was time for them to leave. We were not allowed to volunteer for after school activities, because technically we "were still on the clock". They said it was a liability issue. If we got hurt, or there was a problem with a student, we were not insured to be there. We also worked "under the teacher" and could no longer do lesson planning. In many cases we would not run groups. They used to be able to use paras who were certified teachers to do group work, but now they are there only for specific students and not allowed to lesson plan. That all falls on the special ed teachers. Some special ed teachers would allow them to give input, but paras are not allowed to sit in on planning during the planning periods and are not allowed to stay after to plan. I started to feel that I was not a part of things too.

I think this is wrong. Paras should be allowed to decide if they want to stay after to help with special events, or lesson planning. I think principals should be allowed to use their own wisdom to decide if a para, who is willing of course, may be used to pull groups, or even teach in the classroom. I think paras should be able to substitute teach if coverage is provided for their student. I understand these rules were put in place to protect the school and the para from liability in case something happens. I understand some paras were not comfortable being asked to do what they felt they weren't qualified for or not paid for. I understand that students assigned a para should have a para, and not have to do without because the para was needed elsewhere. I just think there are ways to guarantee all those things and allow paras to do more.

Sorry you are feeling this way, but you are not alone. Please don't take it personally. If you don't need the money, you might substitute some to keep your self in the school setting and dedicate certain days to volunteering at the school as a certified teacher. The school I student taught at allowed a volunteer teacher come in and pull groups. The teachers decided by grade level which students were to participate as well as what content area they needed the most help. Teachers were advised she was not to be used as a para, but as an interventionist. This is something I have thought about doing myself if I don't get hired in full time for next school year.
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Are you at a Title 1 school?
Old 05-09-2016, 07:19 PM
 
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There are many federal laws regarding paras. We cannot copy, grade, lesson plan or do anything not relating directly to our students. Violations of that can cause the federal money to go away.

Twin 2 described it accurately. It's probably not you, but all the rules. Try not to take it personally.
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It's not you...
Old 05-10-2016, 02:38 PM
 
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It's not you.

It's not you.

It really is not you.

The district I live in has para pros and health assistants (CNA to RN if needed). In my district there are many more health assistants. The about only way a kid can get a para pro in this district if the parents threaten to sue if the IEP meeting gets nasty. I worked in DD's school for a bit. The only kids with para pros was a kid with ODD (I knew the mom), and spectrum kids. That's it.

Last year the school got in huge trouble as some of the para pros were helping out in the classroom (like you mentioned above). A mom found out and heads rolled. It got ugly as a para pro is for the benefit of that PARTICULAR child ONLY. You aren't a teacher's general classroom helper. It doesn't matter how degreeded you are. It's doesn't matter if you are so bored you want to stab your eyes out with sporks. (That school is Title I, but it was happening at other schools)

Now there are no para pros hired with any sort of teaching credentials. The district will not hire subs, student teachers or teachers for that position. Doesn't matter how bad you need the job. Anyone with child care experience (nanny, group home, CNA, child care...) can apply. You know what a lesson plan is, nope.

It comes down to as CYA for the district. Believe me, it bites to be slighted and have a job be whittled away by state and federal laws. Health care is full of these situations. I was moved from 3 different health care jobs because the job description changed and the hospital wanted RNs only.

In my district, you aren't part of a school. You are sort of a free agent that can be moved at anytime. My daughter had students in her class with para pros. The day the para was dropped from the IEP, that person was gone to a different school.

I could watch a 3 classes for 25 minutes during indoor recess as a noon aide. The paras could not do that. They had to be with their kid. They couldn't help us out at all with line up or in the lunch room getting us napkins for a spill. A noon aide asked a para to just look in on one class, because there was a fight in another room. We got in SO much trouble for that. It was a lecture by the administration, and we had to sign a form that we knew that paras aren't suppose to help us in any way. What we should have done was page the principal with the talkie. It was a spat between two knuckle heads, and wouldn't have needed the principle.

Think of it like being a private duty nurse. You have one patient, and though you probably could help out on the floor, legally you can not.

If you can't work under those constraints, I would be looking for another job. It isn't that the system doesn't appreciate your willingness or expertise, legally they can not use it.

Good luck!
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Old 05-11-2016, 05:02 PM
 
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Hi. Although I am responding personally to you, this is for all the people who responded to my post. I realize that all of you are right and I agree with much of what you said. I understand that the implications of something happening while a para does something that is outside the parameters of their position is great. I would not expect any school to chance it. But, what I am speaking about is much more insidious and just plain unfriendly. With the school that I am currently working in, it is a much more subtle form of mental torture (at least for me). For example:

1. Whenever the music teacher comes, she completely ignores me. She constantly refers to the other staff members when speaking with the children and never once makes any reference to me. The kids actually made a reference to me when this happened and she moved on to the next thing. This behavior has hurt me deeply. I try at all costs to step out of the room while she is there and watch my child from the doorway.

2. The two assistants to the teacher, who are responsible for the art projects (while never once asking me to help even though they knew I would have loved it) created a board of leaves representing spring with the names of all of the children on it and one extra leaf with their names on it. I was nowhere to be seen.

3. Whenever any reference is made to the other adults in the room, my name is never mentioned to the kids. For example, "...when you graduate, children, Ms.___________, Mrs.____________ and Miss______ will be right there watching you on stage." The kids are perplexed at this point as to why my name is never mentioned. Can't they mention me out of sheer politeness?
I will never again look at a religious school the same way again. The same school that twice or three times a day utters a prayer of forgiveness and understanding. I cannot understand how people can be so hurtful to another human being in a classroom. One who loves children so much and came to help and care for a child who needs medical help.


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Another perspective
Old 05-11-2016, 08:24 PM
 
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My husband is on the spectrum, and goes to a support group. He was not diagnosed until later in life, but many in the group had IEPs and para pros.

This is their opinion on para pros.

The thing the people HATED (the members all have an Aspergers, so not low functioning in an inclusion class) is the para pro. It is a constant reminder that you are different. It's a constant reminder that you are broken in some way. It is worse if the teacher brings up Ms. Buffy, and Ms. Buffy is sitting next to you, and gives Ms. Buffy attention. Because Ms. Buffy is a reminder that you are not the same as everyone else.

When the teacher refers to Ms. Buffy in the class, and everyone notices you and her, you die inside.
You beg and battle with your parents from 3rd grade on to get rid of her.

These are men in their 20s and 30s. I leave the room when the special ed rants start, it is really hard to hear.

So while you think it is disrespect and being ignored, maybe the teachers are trying to keep what ever little scrap of dignity the kid has by not calling you out.

FWIW, my daughter's school has a similar policy that the paras are to be quietly helping the spectrum kids in the back ground . I was told it was a confidentiality issue. You didn't want people asking a lot of questions why you are there. Some parents have no issue with telling their child's class that the son or daughter has autism. The Expats where I live have a HUGE issue about giving any information out, and really wanted the paras to just to be there with their kid, and not be noticed.

Autism Intervention is kept so low on the down low, I didn't know it was there until my kid was in 3rd grade and I started working at the school. I didn't know they have an actual special education teacher, and 3-7 para pros working there.

If the others ignored you in the class, while the student is present, that's how the paras worked at my DD's school. Now if the teachers were total creeps in the teacher's lounge, that's a whole other story.
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Old 05-31-2016, 01:51 PM
 
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I find it amazing that many school districts still hire one on one Paras. In my parish One/ones are no longer hired and a Para is not to work with just one student, but rather everyone to keep the SPED students out of the spotlight so to speak.
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Old 06-11-2016, 07:01 PM
 
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I always thought some paras worked in the classroom and some were hired for a specific student. In my experience, paras are usually not treated as less thans by the teacher. Classroom paras tend to do whatever needs done. As someone else said, maybe Title 1 is different.

Our paras can stay late, I guess, but they have to clock out when school ends and won't get paid for the extra hours.
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Paras
Old 06-21-2016, 11:14 AM
 
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I think a lot of it depends on the laws, but also on the people around you. I always try to include the paras who are in my classroom. Sometimes I ask the para a question about whatever we are studying. Sometimes she/he can give another perspective. Even when a para is assigned to one child, she/he can speak to and/or interact with other children. I always want people to feel welcome in my room, and through modeling, I teach my children to do the same. I am sorry you have been treated this way.
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Old 11-03-2017, 02:35 AM
 
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What they are doing to you is not nice. There is a good amount of bullying between adults(Paras) in one of my schools too. People not in the Education system are almost in disbelief that this exists, but it does. I'm sorry you have to goes through this. No one deserves to be treated like that.

You can keep your head up, and keep doing your job, but that won't make her be nice to you. I encountered this sort of thing, too. I transfered out of the school and my job life improved as the people in the new school were much more friendly. You would think people working in a religous school would be better about it, but no! What a bunch of hypocrites.

Remember, you are there to do your job. Whoever doesn't like it can go pound sand.(feel free to change the ending of this to a profanity!) They don't sign your paycheck. Good luck! I hope it improves for you!


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