January 31, 2020

Every NWS staff member makes us stronger!

Thank you, para-educators, for your hard work and dedication to our kiddos! There are so many tasks paras do without saying a word. Para-educators often have a wealth of knowledge and are able to see student/classroom dynamics that might otherwise go unseen. NWS is lucky to have such dedicated para-educators. Please take a moment to read what a “basic day” looks like for a para-educator at NWS (thank you, Ms. Hodgdon, for sharing just SOME of what you do in a day!):

My arrival- When I arrive to work I will follow my routine of putting my belongings away and reading any case manager notes. There are usually notes of my own I will need to read over to help prepare for my day. I’m able to touch base with teachers or case managers most mornings to get a better understanding of what each student I work with needs. I'm responsible for multiple students throughout the day so it’s important for me to be organized and prepared. If I know in advance I’ll usually make a student something for their birthday (usually whoopie pie). For a lot of my students it is important to start their day off positive, so a “happy birthday” snack usually does it!

Student arrival- Students arrive to homeroom for their morning routine. I check in with my students to make sure they have all their materials necessary for the morning. From this point my students move onto their first class, related arts. This is different for each day of the week.

Core classes- I may be providing assistance to one or three students during a class. I’ll take notes as their teacher explains the lesson. When notes are done, I’ll go around and check-in with any of my students to ensure they knew the content of the lesson. There are times when I need to remind students of behavior expectations. Students want independence to complete work, and I try to let them have some space, but still provide assistance. Before class ends, I will go around to check if my students put in their agenda book the homework assignment or other important information. Para-educators work hard to promote independence and responsibility while still making sure students have what they need.

Student lunch/recess- My duty is monitoring lunch while 7th and 8th graders are there. Usually they are talking more than eating but this is a part of their schedule where they are able to socialize. Once they’re done with eating, we head to the playground. Recess consists of basketball or some other sport, and more socializing. Students line up and I’ll walk with them to help get them ready to be back in classes.

Lunch- Usually I’m working on something while I eat to stay up to date on paperwork or any directions for a class.

Remaining classes- Afternoons tend to need more behavior support as students are starting to get tired. Because I get to know my students well, I can anticipate if they would benefit from a quick walk or stretching of the legs to help them stay focused. We go through the same routine in each class. Consistency is important for students as it helps them create healthy academic habits.

End of day- This is the last chance to speak with students to see if they have everything (shirts, hats, books, agenda book, permission slips, etc). I wish them each a good rest of their day and off they go!

More notes and check-ins- After students leave, I’m back upstairs checking in with teachers, case managers, and other para-educators about how the day went and what's planned for tomorrow. It is vital that we communicate a lot to ensure consistency for students. I’ll write down any specific notes in order to be ready for tomorrow.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, this is a snapshot of a basic day. Being a para-educator is not a position which is done well without passion and a genuine care for children. Para-educators become an important person to not only the students they directly work with but to all students they encounter. If you have friends that are para-educators, you should ask them how much effort they give every single day, it will be enlightening. Please show your appreciation to any para-ecducator you come across! Lastly, enjoy this interesting article outlining how rigorous this profession can be.

Article: What I Learned as a Paraprofessional- By Sara Needham