Yes, I said it. Become an aide for a day.
Have one of your aides run the classroom as you would. If you have a consistent routine already established it should be an easy task. You, the teacher, act as an aide. Step into the shoes of one of your staff. Spend the entire day doing the daily duties you have assigned to that aide. This includes recess, toileting and feeding duties. I know some readers might find this idea mortifying. Yes, I know, I have been told that we "went to college so we didn't have to change diapers." I find this response quite disheartening because ultimately, we went to college to make a difference in our students lives. I find these days doing something out of the norm to be one of the most humbling experiences as a teacher.
I find it the most beneficial acting as a 1:1 with some of my behavior kiddos. Just this week I switched roles and acted as a 1:1 for one of my most active, aggressive, loud and challenging students. I spent EVERY minute with her (minus a few bathroom breaks.) This student has been with me for over a year and has been making progress. Together with the IEP team I had developed a behavior plan that her aide as been carrying out seamlessly. These last two weeks this student has been extra loud. The behavior plan was not working. I was struggling to see what was going on as the teacher. As the teacher- sometimes you don't notice the littlest triggers that can be set off while you are busy multi-tasking the million other jobs you are juggling.
What are PROS of switching roles?
- You get to view your classroom routine from the "other side."
- You are able to gain understanding of the challenges your aides face each day
- You may identify problem areas within your classroom structure and routine that you may not notice while juggling the many roles of a teacher
- You will be able to create "next steps" for self help skills that you may not address each day such as toileting, washing hands, unpacking backpacks etc.
- You may identify certain aspects of the job where aides may be doing "too much" for the kids and times where they may need to offer more support. After spending a whole day in the aides shoes you can review level of prompts needed in different parts of the day.
- You can offer support and input for settings you don't usually address as the teacher such as recess, lunch, cafeteria, speech and PE etc.
- You are able to identify problem areas and areas where more support is needed. Similarly, you are able to identify down times of the day where you can add responsibility to balance out the duties for the entire staff as a whole.
- You can devise a plan that can improve behavior support for students within the classroom
- MOST IMPORTANTLY, you are able to fine tune the duties of your classroom aide to meet the needs of all students within your already established classroom routine
So what should you take away from this blog post?
Appreciate your staff. Not just from a far. But appreciate them. Thank them daily. Surprise them with a treat every once in awhile. Praise them in front of administrators. Appreciate them, because I promise you, without them you could not do your job. Being a classroom aide can be completely draining and exhausting. It takes hard work, dedication and endurance to be a productive classroom aide who makes initiate in all settings.