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cenWApara cenWApara is offline
 
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cenWApara
 
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Struggling to find jobs
Old 04-09-2018, 09:47 AM
 
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Hi guys, I'm a new user here. I currently work as a substitute paraeducator in the Yakima Valley (central Washington) and am on the sub lists for two different school districts. I was on a third district's sub list but ended up getting fired (and I'll tell why in a bit). I'm currently in college studying to become an elementary teacher (trying to get a Bachelor's Degree in Elem Ed. K-8). This is going to be a long post, but bear with me:

Throughout this school year I've had a whopping THREE jobs, in one of the two districts. Two at the same elementary (for the same learning-assistance para) and another at the middle school where I mainly just watched students do i-Ready math intervention on their Chromebooks and helped out as needed. I know the para's in this district have a preferred list for their substitutes, and I'm a first-year substitute unfortunately. Jobulator did not ring throughout the entire week before spring break (which was conference week no less, did any paras take an early vacation? Who knows, I can't see them!) And no jobs this morning, the first day back from spring break. This district has six elementary schools. There are six computer lab paras, six library paras, and a couple dozen LAP paras.

95% of the time when Jobulator rings it's always either a one-on-one SpEd position or a self-contained SpEd position that needs help. At this time I don't feel comfortable with taking those jobs, I don't have enough experience in that sector yet. And who knows if the student has high-functioning autism, or is violent, nonverbal, screams and hits people? AESOP doesn't list what kid I work with and his schedule...which would be of great help to me.

The second school district has only called once since the beginning of the year. This is a smaller district with an elementary, intermediate, middle and high school.

I also had a short stint in a third district - mostly urban, high Hispanic population and a lot of low-income students. After three weeks, I ended up getting fired from the district and repeated meetings to higher-up have resulted in my firing being upheld. This one was sad because I was working at least three jobs a week! Here's why:

One Friday at one of their elementary schools, I had to deal with a stressful situation - and it was all due to lunch. The lunch line was awful that day, first of all, and after telling them a couple times to be quiet (no talking is allowed in the hallway at the school I was working at, basically they call it 'level 1'), they wouldn't stop so I had to raise their voice sternly at them, sending some to the back of the line too for continuing to talk. Then in the cafeteria, a 2nd grader decided to be a smartypants towards me AND towards other students. He told other kids to 'shut up' and put his thumbs down and 'booed' at them. I told him to stop or he would lose his recess. I called another paraeducator over to help and she talked to him but nothing was ever done. With 5 minutes to go, I told them to put their trays away and quietly sit at their table to be dismissed to recess. This kid wouldn't stop talking! He ended up losing his recess and I told him that he was disrespectful and rude for telling others to 'shut up,' and that we aren't supposed to do that. I also told him to apologize.
I subbed for a different para at the same school the following Monday, and I found out how rude he was in the classroom. I was doing some popcorn reading in the 2nd grade teacher's centers block. The main teacher did spelling practice with a rotation of kids and some listened to stories on laptops with headphones. The same child who told others to shut up, ended up shutting down his computer instead of logging off. The teacher was red in the face yelling at him to put his head down and think about what he had done. I didn't intervene because that wasn't my problem at the time.

A few days later I called the school district because I couldn't access my AESOP account - they fired me. They ended up putting words in my mouth - allegedly the staff told HR that I told the kid he was 'disgusting' and 'the worst'...when I didn't say anything close to that! I couldn't believe it! The HR director rudely told me I was better off as a janitor because you don't have to be social with the children. Then she told me I acted 'like a child' with the kids in line (really?! They wouldn't stop talking! I had nobody around to help me...no paras, no teachers!) And then they went as far as saying 'you aren't supposed to learn on the job.' I had only done this for 3 weeks and was still learning the protocols of each school, because every rule book is different at each school. So did the school staff file a complaint, or did the little kid run home crying to his mommy and put words in my mouth?
No warning, just fired me. My only paycheck was for 11 jobs at over $1,100, half paid in October 2017 and the other half paid in November 2017. Meetings with higher-up personnel didn't change their mind. I have everything documented including an email I sent to the school's principal to meet with him to give my side of the story.

On the other hand, the rest of the jobs I had in this district were wonderful! I enjoyed the diversity, getting to do multiple things (one day I was teaching a struggling kindergartener how to add, the next day I was monitoring afternoon safety patrol and one of the 5th graders asked me how my day was going and if I was struggling...what a mature young lady!), getting to meet the other paraeducators and having small talk with them during breaks, etc.

I tried applying for several full-time para positions last summer...all rejected. I had all my references, cover letter and resume filled out but I never got the jobs.

Basically, how do I get more jobs? My family needs the money and we are struggling to pay the bills. I get a refund from college financial aid but it's obviously not enough. How do I end up on the preferred list for all these parapros? I filled out note cards with my name, phone number, experience and preferred grade levels...but hardly ever get any calls at all. Did the same thing for the second, smaller district. This stinks...and we only have about 9 or 10 weeks before summer break!


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Old 04-09-2018, 09:57 AM
 
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Sorry about your troubles. You just have to enroll in more districts, like a lot more and be willing to drive further. It sounds like you are in a small town, so be willing to drive an hour away from where you live. I've been subbing for almost two years and I rarely hear back from people when I leave my info. If you go back to the same school, meet the teacher you subbed for last time and introduce yourself. Make a business card that has your skills and contact info. Start getting to know the secretaries and sometimes they will alert you to jobs before they get posted. It does take a fairly long time to establish yourself as sub.
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Old 04-09-2018, 01:01 PM
 
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It's difficult and practically impossible at this point to go an hour away from home just to sub. Public transportation sucks here and I'm still a month or two away from getting my license. (I couldn't afford the crazy prices for driver's ed classes so I waited until after high school). I've been learning to drive with my mother and one of my teacher friends.
The transit routes do not go to several school districts in the lower Yakima valley, nor to East Valley School District (east of Yakima) either. Which sucks because that district also has good reviews. Hopefully I will work up a good list of districts by the end of summer as I should have my license long before then.

I have sent out note cards (little blank sheets of paper) to all schools in the second district and the four elementary schools on public transit routes in the 1st district. Only one of those four elementary schools has ever given me a job.
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I don't know where you are, but...
Old 04-09-2018, 05:36 PM
 
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...around here, most paras ARE only for special ed. or ELL. In my district those are the only two paras they hire. Otherwise, non-certified can also be cooks or secretaries as subs. I've never done those two positions as a sub, because they only pay 8.25 an hour. I will take special ed para positions on occasion, but the most they pay is $9.25 an hour. And aids in the district work only 5 1/2 hours a day. Barely worth it. I agree to find other districts if necessary and feasible.
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Old 04-09-2018, 07:33 PM
 
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I'm in the Yakima area, central Washington state. The district that fired me was the Yakima School District, sadly. Over there they didn't have any 'preferred lists' or whatnot...the paras sent out their job listings to everyone. There were days in that short time where I was greeted with 4 or 5 individual jobs!! I would take the one closest to my home, of course.
The other two districts are suburban districts - West Valley and Selah. Most families are middle-class and higher out here. In fact these districts are better with technology than inner-city Yakima. Case in point: West Valley's secondary students (5th-12th...middle school starts at 5th here) all get Chromebooks. No one in Yakima does, to my knowledge. The middle school kids use them for iReady reading & math, reading projects, writing projects, coding, you name it. Maybe I should start bugging the secretaries a little bit more. I want to work!
And BTW pay-wise, West Valley pays about $13 an hour for a sub para, Selah pays around $13.50. Yakima paid over $14.


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Old 04-10-2018, 07:11 AM
 
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I get you want to sub.

My district is worse. You need an actual license to sub.

Anyway, if money is needed for electricity, you might need to find something else to pay the bills.

Other than that, you need early and often face time. Those scrubby crappy wage jobs give you access to the administrative assistant, who often has the principal's ear.

NEVER underestimate a school secretary. They are like Cromwell or Moore to Henry VIII. They know where the bodies are, and can put in a good or bad word.

My district would never hire you as a para due to you getting your degree in education. Part of it is the union contract with the teachers. Last contract, the paras were represent by the union and had benefits. Next contract all new paras are dumped in the lunch help/latch key/support staff roll. A person with a teaching license can't hold those jobs. The big fear was pulling a person making $9/hr to sub in a class.

I know you don't have your license. Technically you could apply. Reality where I live, is you wouldn't get hired.

You need to snoop around and see what skill set is getting the nod.

Do those districts have AM /PM latch key? It sounds like your "crowd control" needs work. There's a different between handling 2 kids, 10 kids, 20 kids and 80 kids. My latch key had 80 kids. Between me and one other worker, we could control 80 kids in a line. It's a different skill set. You learn what is no big deal and how to watch for kids starting to ramp it up. If they need subs, it could be worth your while to give that a whirl.

I'm guessing the staff complained and that is why you are now excluded. Good and bad people news travels. I heard about support staff subs, that I didn't even know personally. Fluffy is horrible, don't contact her. Buffy is terrific and everyone in a 5 school area hunts her down like a dog.

For the charmer who was being a pill. Unless the school has rule to pull recess, I wouldn't have even mentioned that as an option. I would have pulled him to the front or the back of the line, or wherever I was standing. "Thank you friend, but I'll take it from here." "Oh, I know you want to help, but I'm good."

I worked as a noon aide. When you pull lunch for a kid like that (honestly that's low level stupidity at my old school), it can set up a tire fire for the classroom teacher after lunch. If this kid had an issue like ODD/ASD/ADHD, you've sent back to class a roaring bear. So what was a minor acting the fool issue, can escalated into a 3 hours of a bonfire. If that was the case, the teacher probably complained. We had a list of kids who had behavioral issues who pulling recess was NEVER an option. Escalating behavior (major) was handled by the principal or classroom teacher.

Good luck! Hope things turn around.
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Old 04-10-2018, 11:05 AM
 
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Again, I was trying the best I could - I didn't want him to get away with his behavior. I made sure when he lost his recess, to pull him aside quietly and tell him what he had done. I also had him apologize to me and to his classmates. No one told me about this boy and whether he had ODD or ADHD or any other type of disability. I thought he was just being a smartypants by telling others to shut up. That's not OK in any case.
Also, I didn't want to walk out of the cafeteria because I had 200 kids to control, with no other parapro in my place. The office is quite a ways from that school's cafeteria. The para is supposed to make sure the kids are quietly eating. I should have grabbed the 5th grade para, but you know, heat of the moment, what do you do. I had only worked about 2 1/2 weeks. I was still working on what fits and what doesn't.

What I don't understand is the rest of the Yakima schools enjoyed having me. There was one particular school where the other paras loved my presence and thought I was a great sub. They could have banned me from this particular school, or given me a warning, but they just threw me down the drain and replaced me with another sub in the whole district. One child, one issue, one time, and you're gone. WA is an 'at-will' state too...they can fire you for any reason. So the little boy likely complained...and won.

The West Valley jobs have all gone well. In fact the middle school students are very mature.
I guess what I'll do is start bugging the secretaries, ask the if there's any paras that will be gone this week or next week, and ask them if I can sub in. I love working with young children and giving them a chance to succeed. I just need a chance to help them!
Also, before the end of the year I will be putting my name on every full-time para position I can get in those three districts, and possibly more as well. I have done all my required education courses in college, I just need to finish my math and science credits, which includes two math classes strictly for Elementary teachers.
I applied for a KinderCare last spring and got rejected; and I just got rejected (even though I had all my references and a good interview) from a YMCA summer camp counselor position. This sucks! Job hunting is so much harder than it seems!
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Old 04-12-2018, 11:06 AM
 
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Well, I got a hold of some of the West Valley and Selah secretaries. The West Valley people told me to 'keep trying...' and that the preferred list is used often with most paras. It's so difficult when you've been a sub for almost a whole year and only three jobs to go with it.

But the Selah people have given me a little more hope. I told them that I've only gotten one call since the beginning of January, and although they don't have any paras out right now (both primary & intermediate schools), they will be keeping me in mind and will try to call me a little bit more often if there's a sub job available. Hey, it's $13.50 per hour, might as well get out of the house and help the kids with their reading and math!
I'm also considering applying for a latch-key program in West Valley. I walked into one of their centers one time and kids were mainly playing board games and playing with toys. I don't know exactly if they have a schedule or not, and I didn't see any computers in the portable either (since even the elementary kids are required to do i-Ready minutes every week).

We'll see what happens!
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Old 04-17-2018, 10:30 AM
 
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I called my sub coordinator in West Valley. She told me I'm doing the right thing by checking every night and waking up at 6am to check for morning jobs. They have had a high fill rate and few jobs for the newest subs. But she will keep me in mind and let me know if anything pops up that I'm interested in.
In the meantime I'm applying for other minimum wage jobs to get by. The kids need me but I need the $$$ too. I'm hoping that a local arcade will give me a chance part-time, my application is almost finished.
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