Having a para in your classroom can be a huge help. But what do you do with paras who are not doing their job?
Whether they are on their phones all day or just sitting and refusing to get up and help, dealing with a para who refuses to do their job can be frustrating and tiresome.
If you’re struggling with what to do, the five tips below might help!
When Paras Refuse to Work
As Special Education teachers, we know how to manage a lot of different needs and situations at one time. We are multi-tasking managers of our classrooms. However, the last thing we need is to have to manage our paras.
Here are some tips and tricks for when your para is not doing what he or she should be doing in the classroom.
Just like with students, documentation is key when you have paras who are not doing their jobs. Make note of the day, time, the tasks not being completed, how you addressed it, and the response that you got. The more documentation you have about the situation, the more able the administration is going to be to take action.
Similar to what we do with students who are displaying behaviors that we want to correct, redirect your para to the task at hand. Sometimes it’s a matter of not knowing exactly what to do that is keeping your para from doing the job you want her to do. Sometimes it’s a personal matter that she is having trouble leaving outside the classroom that has her on her phone. Gently redirecting her to the task that you want her to complete can help her get back on track.
Address It Head On
If your para is on her phone or just wants to sit and do nothing all day, do not be afraid to address it head-on. Remind her that phones need to be away in the classroom unless they are part of a lesson and that her help is needed.
It can be intimidating to address another adult’s behavior in your classroom, but remember you are doing it because you have your students’ best interests at heart. Be sure to document each time you address it with her.
Give Specific Tasks
Sometimes, for new paras, a general “help around the classroom” or “work with student xyz” is too broad. They might not have the background in education to be able to understand what exactly it is that you are asking them to do.
Instead of general, broad tasks, give very specific tasks so that they know exactly what is expected of them. “Review the multiplication flashcards with student xyz three times and jot down his level of accuracy by making a tally note on a sticky note for each one he gets incorrect” is a much more specific task that is hard to ignore.
Some teachers even make responsibility or to-do charts for each class period for each para. This gives them specific tasks that they’re responsible for and eliminates confusion about what needs to get done.
Create a specific binder for your para that outlines all of the information he or she needs to be successful in their job. This editable template makes it easy!
Go to an Admin
If all else fails and your para is still not doing her job and helping around the classroom, go to an administrator with the documentation that you have been keeping. Once you have tried everything in your power to address the situation and get your para to work, it becomes something that is out of your hands and needs to be dealt with by an admin.
Request Training for Paras
If you know that paras in your district consistently need training and support, request that the district provide it for your paras before the school year starts. Not only is it helpful for the paras and you, but it’s a good investment for the school district because it’s setting their support staff up to be successful in the classroom.
Should you have to do any of the things above to get paras to do their jobs? Of course not. As adults, they should be doing what they are being paid to do. But when the situation arises, it is always good to have a few para management tricks up your sleeve – just in case!
What do you do when paras are not pulling their weight in the classroom? Share your tips with us!