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What are teaching assistants doing on these se-learning days/
Old 04-05-2020, 09:53 AM
 
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Hello everyone,

I am a former band and music teacher who is now working as a teaching assistant as a retirement job. When school closed and we went to e-learning a couple of weeks ago, my district did not know what to do with us so they required us to do five hours of professional development each day for five days, March 17th - 20th, and March 30th after spring break. We had to watch various videos of of a state professional development website, take the quizzes to receive certificates, and write up a reflection journal each day explaining how many hours we worked, which videos we watched, and what we learned. Our district is still paying us since the money is already in the budget and we have union protection like teachers.

At an assistant’s meeting on the 20th, one of the assistants said that if we continued to be closed, she did not want to do the professional development anymore which I thought was kind of a risk.

Now that we are closed for longer, perhaps eventually the rest of the school year, the district does not seem to know what to do with us. They are considering having us do the mandatory professional development requirement for next year. In an all staff zoom meeting this past Thursday, the principal alluded to something special and exciting that she had in mind for assistants to do. I have no clue what we could do since teachers are only going to be meeting with their students live once a day for well checks, and have specific outlined plans all set. Many of us assistants are 1 to 1 assistants who help special needs children with things that can’t be done online.

What are assistants in your districts doing? What are you doing if you are an assistant?


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Assistant during distance learning
Old 04-05-2020, 11:10 AM
 
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The paraprofessionals (assistants) in my district are doing exactly what your district is doing- professional development videos & assessments. They don’t have to do a journal.

I don’t understand why some people complain when they have ‘less” to do.
Your district can require assistants to be in the live Zoom sessions to assist & serve students in addition to the PL requirements. Your colleague should be happy that she is still receiving a paycheck.


I think this is perfect & would not complain. We complete our PL at our own pace.

In fact, in my district, teachers are given PL as well through video & Assessments.

Teachers need to be available via email or Google classroom if parents or students need help.

We are not required to have any type of live video lessons or meetings with students.

I am thankful for not being required to do live videos sessions with students bc we all have home life+ work life at home now. Less is best now.
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Old 04-05-2020, 11:27 AM
 
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I'm not sure about the SSN (severe needs) aides, but we have 2 classroom aides (neither of whom are assigned to my class, unfortunately). IF one were assigned to my class, I would have her pull small groups via google meet, just as she does for the class for whom she is assigned.

She did send out an e-mail asking if anyone had anything for her to do, so I jumped on that! I immediately e-mailed her and she is finding specific worksheets for specific skills (so that I can differentiate for my students remotely). I am so thankful she threw the offer out there!

I love people like her because she is getting paid, yet was not being utilized, but took it upon herself to "offer her services" rather than just sit back, and get paid for doing nothing. Kudos to her and others like her.

This remote teaching isn't easy. Aides might consider sending out a similar e-mail. You never know who might be needing help!

Last edited by eliza4one; 04-05-2020 at 12:06 PM..
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Hard
Old 04-05-2020, 11:29 AM
 
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This is hard. At my school, each pre-school classroom has a full time aid and then each grade level K-4 has a full tie aid as well. It's hard to know what to have our aids doing. Normally they walk around and help kids while I instruct or pull small groups for test taking or to reteach something. The reteaching though is under guidance from us beforehand. They heard the lesson, they helped while kids were working, etc. Then they pull a small group to help redo/go over mistakes. As much as I love my aid, I'm not sure how comfortable she'd feel to do that without seeing the lesson her self. She's a nice lady and very professional, but still struggles with some concepts. She does fine when she hears it taught herself, but cold turkey, I'm not sure how she would do.

We've been told that we can involve our aids however we best see fit. Normally, are school does Holy Week activities and a committee helps plan it. This year, we decided to have the aids plan home activities for Holy Week. This gave them something to do and let the teachers focus on their classes, so it took one thing off of our plate. We've also had our aid upload a video to our Google classroom page, so the kids could see her again. I suppose we could invite her to our Google meets as well. However, my aid has 3 kids at home doing school through E-learning and her husband is an essential worker, so he is working and she's at home with 3 kids who are doing school work. I understand she is probably busy helping them, and I want to be respectful of her time and personal life, too.

Some people at our school have been bitching about how much classroom teachers have to do vs. specialists (some but not as much since) and aids (pretty much nothing) and complaining how unfair it is. Personally, I'm not going to waste time complaining. That's life. That's the life of a classroom teacher, honestly. It happens. If the other teachers could take things off their plate, I know they would. In fact, our librarian is going to do reading lessons, at least 1 lesson a week for every class just to take a lesson off of the classroom teacher's shoulder. The guidance counselor is going to integrate the religion curriculum into her guidance lesson to take 1 religion lesson a week out of the hands of classroom teachers. I know anyone who could help would help in anyway possible. It's not like those with less work than classroom demanded that or are doing less work on purpose. It's just how the chips fell. Everyone is doing the best they can with their role.
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Aides
Old 04-05-2020, 12:49 PM
 
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We are on Spring break with remote learning officially beginning after Easter.

My principal said it would be a "good idea" to reach out to our aides since they would be involved in remote learning, like in Zoom meetings. I know she has pulled other non-teaching staff to distribute meals and packets.

I later asked my P what the expectations are for my aides that have 2 or 3 jobs. One I am guessing/hoping is picking up extra hours since one of her other jobs was cut since school is out. Another I know is being required to pick up more hours in a part-time essential role. Another aide only has one job, but I have been in contact with her and she is watching grand kids as her kids are essential workers.

Then there is the tech gap. My aides are good about answering emails and would probably be able to connect to a zoom meeting on their phones, but I know only one has a laptop (part-time college student) and she has several school-age kids who need to do work.

Other aides in our building have really pushed back about being asked to check email on their breaks and lunches at school. Fortunately my aides are not like that.

I am just happy my aides are still getting paid. I battled to get decent, consistent aides in my room and we finally had a good group going about a week before virus.

I hope they come back.



Last edited by readandweep; 04-05-2020 at 01:57 PM..
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video or picture directions
Old 04-05-2020, 02:14 PM
 
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Mine are helping me by videoing demonstrations of tasks or completing a task and taking pictures. I send them directions of what I need done. They either video or photo, depending on the task and then send it to me. I put it together and link it in the assignment for the student it's intended for. I'm thinking I may make a shared folder on my google drive just for them to upload visuals.

For example, one of them demonstrated counting 100 pasta and then putting it in groups of 5, 10 20 on video. I linked it to the assignment. The other one made an abc book and took pictures. I was able to put them all into a google slide and then put the link into the right assignment.

They are also going to hop on our whole group zoom meetings to say hi to the kids. They miss them too.
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Old 04-05-2020, 02:53 PM
 
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Our paraprofessionals are getting paid, however they are not actually working or doing anything while we are doing distance learning. We do not really have paras in classrooms so they wouldn’t have a classroom to assist.
Our specials teachers (PE, Art, and Music) are instructional but aren’t doing any distance learning either.
And we have 5 “instructional coaches” at our school, again not attached to a classroom.... they are sending emails, often, with optional trainings teachers can do. But, in talking to them, they really don’t have any work to do right now.


Our principal and assistant principal are handing out lunches every day and working their butts off.

(Everybody in our district is still being paid, except people who are hourly workers. My school only has one hourly worker)
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Old 04-05-2020, 05:42 PM
 
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We just started online learning this past Wednesday. The week before that we were on SB, and the week before that everyone assumed this was very temporary (if only that had been true).

My building has two sped paras. They are offering "office hours" via zoom where our students can log in and get real time help with their work. I think it's a great idea, but I have no idea how many students are using it, if any. I'll find out at our team meeting tomorrow.

Teachers also have one "office hour" per day via zoom and no one came to mine nor my teammates' last week. I do know that when I start contacting families about why they aren't accessing their IEP services in the online learning system, this should be a resource that will negate several "excuses" (I don't have time to help, I don't understand the work, it's too hard for my child, etc.)

Ours also offered to help us with creating things. For the way I'm running my lessons, it doesn't make sense to have someone else create things, but I know the other sped teacher is utilizing their help. I know gen ed paras are also offering "office hours" and checking assignments that come in via seesaw and google classroom.

There is no one in my building who is not working. Specials teachers are doing regular online lessons just like everyone else. We are providing IEP services online and interventionists and EL teachers are doing lessons as well. Office staff (admin, secretaries, IC) are contacting everyone who is not logging on, keeping attendance records, handing out lunches, and dealing with parent issues. Before everything started admin was tasked with figuring out who didn't have wifi, getting them set up with a hotspot, and delivering devices to students who weren't there to take them home on our last day of in person school.
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Old 04-05-2020, 09:20 PM
 
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Our aides have offered to help any way they can. I told ours to continue to comment to posts on our shared FB account, continue to post fun ideas on FB, but really, for me that’s enough. We had all new aides this year and even without the pandemic it has been a doozy of a year!
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Old 04-06-2020, 02:20 AM
 
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Thank you for the reports so far. Keep them coming. It is so interesting how the duties of assistants are varying so greatly from state to state and district to district. Everything from doing nothing to helping teachers make lessons. I guess how much teachers are doing also varies a lot as well.

The things some of you mentioned are interesting ideas. Most probably won’t be considered in my district.

I am a 1 to 1 assistant. I help a couple of individual students in the morning and work with one non verbal autistic girl in the afternoon.

I suppose I could help the first grade teacher I work with in the morning. I feel like all of the teachers have been overwhelmed and so busy dealing with everything they need to do to adjust to this that the last thing on their minds is trying to dig up things for assistants to do.

No actual live lessons are being done. They only do one live meeting with their students per day and it is just a well check. I have heard that a few of our assistants who are only assigned to one room have been occasionally sitting in on those well check meetings. This was not mentioned at our assistant meeting, only at the full staff meeting we had last week. No one has asked me to attend any meetings.

I do feel a little guilty that I have not offered any of that type of help, but very little guidance has been given from our administration about this and I did more than my share of required professional development work that we have done so far.

All I can do now is wait until this supposedly wonderful extra thing they are planning for us is revealed. I suspect that they don’t even know what that is and are trying to appease a couple of assistants who complained that they don’t get an opportunity to work with students during this time.

As much as I love the students I have been working with, I would be perfectly happy with just doing more professional development. The thought of doing other things stresses me out a little bit and we certainly don’t get paid near the amount that the teachers are.

I am grateful to still be getting paid though and will give 110 percent of effort to whatever I am asked to do.


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Old 04-07-2020, 11:27 AM
 
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I’m also a former teacher... I’m a reading group intervention “tutor” for a few K-2 classes. I’m not working, yet still being paid.

So I’m doing absolutely nothing...

They did say I could try to look for resources for the teachers or review prof. Development videos w the program I use....but yeah, not doing that. They have enough resources and I already know the program I use really well. We are also not returning.
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Old 04-11-2020, 10:35 AM
 
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Nothing and they’re still getting paid.
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Old 04-11-2020, 08:22 PM
 
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My sister in law is a one on one special needs para. She is currently staying home, doing nothing with school and continuing to get a paycheck. And I couldn't be happier for her. Nobody needs 8 weeks of busy work. and if the school district has a chance to give these hardworking folks a break for a change, why not? They get paid squat.
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Old 04-12-2020, 08:05 AM
 
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We have more professional development to do, We also have an assistant staff meeting tomorrow afternoon in which we will be told about an “amazing opportunity” for us. Then the idea will be run by the teachers.

I have no idea if we are going to help teachers by video taping parts of lessons, or joining zoom meetings or what. I suspect some assistants want to do more to work with the students and the Admin is trying to appease them.
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Old 04-20-2020, 08:38 PM
 
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I'm a para and since we are still getting paid, our district has required us to engage with students remotely every week under the guidance of the teacher. We are all using different methods to do this since each grade level is different in what apps and resources their teachers use. Google Classroom, email, private Facebook groups for parents, and Zoom meetings are just a few examples. It's nice to be able to stay involved and communicate with the students still.
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Old 04-21-2020, 04:14 AM
 
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My son is an assistant. His day has quite a schedule. He meets with math classes. He has break out sessions after math to assist with homework. He has several students that check in with him so he can help with all homework and make sure they get it done. When he’s not meeting with teachers or students, he is required to do two podcasts a day that are connected to paraprofessional learning and write reflections. He is also doing khan academy And goes over lessons before class so he understands what the math teachers are presenting.
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I am a SpEd teacher
Old 04-21-2020, 07:26 AM
 
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with 2 paras. We are not requiring anything in particular.

One para has 5 kids, 6-16, all at home. She still volunteers all the time. She is helping with classroom and locker cleanouts, food distribution and more. She is voluntarily doing PD. She is the one who figured out Zoom and taught it to me. She is assisting me with contacting the students as needed as well. She helped me clean and pack in our classroom too.

The other para has 3 kids at home and older stepkids as well. She just had a new grandbaby. She has not done anything but she also had already tendered her resignation just prior to this whole ordeal.

For what they are paid here, this is not something I will begrudge either of them. Yes, they are still getting paid. BUT, they are salary/hourly. So some of the money they are receiving has been banked in escrow each pay period so they get summer checks and insurance.

It is such a little amount ($11-13K) that it is just a drop in the bucket of the whole school budget. If it were a livable wage, I might feel differently.

I also know that if either one of them were asked to do anything, they would both do everything in their power to get it done.
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Old 04-21-2020, 08:07 PM
 
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So at the meeting we had last week, we were each assigned a teacher to work with. Things we could do to help are to be in the daily zoom meeting which is basically just well checks. The other thing would be to get into the seesaw program that we need an official invitation for, and like or comment on some of the student’s work. That is basically all for now.

We Were told that we should not initiate contact with the teacher, we need to wait for the teacher to contact us. Some of the teacher may not need help. We also have professional development that we do if we don’t have any work from our teacher. We need to do 2 and a half hours per day total. Helping with the kids is first and professional development is the backup.

I have not heard from my teacher yet on day two of the new assignment. We were told that if we haven’t heard from the teacher at the end of the week that we may be re-assigned to another one.
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