Paraprofessionals are an integral part of the special education team, and April 1st is Paraprofessional Appreciation Day. It’s a national day dedicated to our support staff (even though they deserve more than one day!) so we can celebrate them and their contributions to the classroom.
Showing your appreciation for their efforts can mean the world. But how can you show them how important they are to you and your students? We asked veteran teachers for some of their best tips and tricks for para appreciation, and here’s what they said.
Ways to Show Appreciation for Paras
Get to Know Them
Your time and interest in them will always be the most important thing you can give. Take the time to get to know them. Learn about their families, their hobbies, their favorite shows and books, and how they spend their weekends. Build that relationship of friendship and trust first.
As one para said, “The greatest gift I have ever received was that of friendship.”
Sometimes a little thank you note written on a sticky pad can be the thing that changes your para’s day. A quick, handwritten, and heartfelt note of thanks is a great way to acknowledge how much they mean to you.
Say Thank You!
Notes are great, but don’t forget to say the words, “Thank you!” Verbally acknowledging their efforts and presence is important.
Make Her Feel Included
Along with appreciation comes respect. Make your para feel included by asking for her (or him!) opinion, letting her know the plans for the day, and working with her as a team.
While the final say is yours as the teacher, your para is also a valuable member of the classroom, and you want this person on your side.
While you may not need to physically share your own lunch with them, having lunch together once a week can help you connect and build that relationship of trust and professionalism.
If you’re able to, treating your para to lunch once a week or once a month would be appreciated!
Since you may be working with many different paras throughout the day, store-bought gifts and gift cards can quickly add up. Instead, make your paras something! A fun, personalized gift that you took the time to make will mean a lot.
Does your para love chocolate? Leave a mini-candy bar on her desk. Does she drink coffee every day? Surprise her with a cup in the morning. Is she having a bad day? Send her a funny meme with a note that says, “I know you’re having a rough day, but I think you’re awesome!”
The special surprises and extra touches will show your appreciation and friendship.
Some quick ideas: Target Dollar Spot items, a gift card, candy, donuts, bagels, funny cards, favorite snacks and drinks, a quick text of gratitude, hand sanitizer, stickers, and more!
End of the Year Dinner
Celebrate the end of the year with your para by taking her out to dinner or inviting her over to dinner at your home. If you share paras with other teachers in your school, consider having a group dinner outing so that everyone can chip in to show their appreciation at once.
No matter what you do to show your para appreciation be heartfelt and sincere. Your time, respect, and friendship will always be the things that matter most.
How do you show appreciation to your paraprofessionals and support staff? Share in the comments below!