Distance learning is full of challenges, but figuring out what to have your para help with should not be one of them.
Paraprofessionals can be a fantastic asset to any classroom – even a virtual one. However, figuring out how to have them help in the non-traditional classroom setting can be overwhelming.
We asked veteran teachers what tasks they assigned paras in their classrooms throughout virtual learning and had some great responses.
Depending on your relationship with your para and the para’s level of expertise, the tasks may differ. It is always best to select the jobs that will best serve your students and give them the support they need.
If you are not sure what to have your paras do or what to expect of them during distance learning, here are some teacher-tested suggestions that might make it easier.
Jobs for Paras During Distance Learning
Using your para to run a small group during distance learning is a great way to reduce the number of students in each group and make sure your students are getting the support they need.
While you will be responsible for preparing the material for the small group in most cases, your para can help implement the lesson and help monitor students’ behavior and comprehension.
One veteran teacher suggested having a shared Google document where paras could write their observations and concerns from each small group lesson. This gave the classroom teacher insight into how students in all small groups were doing and allowed her to see which ones needed to be followed up with later in the week.
When you are teaching virtually, it isn’t easy to monitor all of your students at one time. Paras can play a huge role in making that easier.
Some teachers have assigned paras as video monitors who watch the students’ to be sure they behave appropriately on camera.
One para mentioned that she is responsible for being in all of the Zoom classes and taking notes/making observations throughout the day.
If your para does not feel comfortable with or is not qualified to run small groups, he or she can switch between rooms and monitor students’ behavior in the breakout rooms instead.
Take-Home Material Prep
Time is limited during distance learning. For teachers who are sending materials and packets home to their students, material prep work is a great job to assign to classroom paras.
One teacher said that she sends home all of the materials for the month with her para, who then does all of the packet assemblies, cutting, pasting, and sending out of materials.
This frees up the teacher to focus on the lessons while providing the para with a relevant and much-needed task.
Paras can help with lesson recording too! Have them make demonstration videos, book read-aloud videos, singing recordings for daily songs, and more.
Behind the Scenes Work
Don’t forget all of the behind the scenes work that paras can do to help make sure the virtual classroom runs smoothly!
There are plenty of online classroom tasks that can be delegated, from creating meeting links for individual sessions to posting activity links. Taking attendance, double-checking virtual assignment links, grading assignments, managing behavior systems, and more can also be delegated to paras.
While the classroom teacher should always be the main point of contact for families, the para can be in charge of emailing parents when students are not in class.
They can also put together the classroom newsletter, help maintain the class website, and field general questions.
While there are many different tasks that you can assign to your para, the key is that there must be a good working relationship ahead of time. Without excellent communication and clear instructions, your para may feel overworked and under-appreciated.
Establish a good working relationship first, and then watch as your para eagerly takes on new roles and tasks to make the virtual learning experience easier for you and the students.
Teamwork is more important than ever in a virtual classroom setting!