One of the most common questions that I’m being asked right now is how can we be using paraprofessionals during distance learning? And there’s so many ways that we can do this, that I decided to put together a blog post for you with some different ideas.
Remember, this is mostly likely a whole new experience for you. Which means it’s going to be a whole new experience for your assistants and support staff too!
A lot of our assistants will still be getting paid and expected to work during this time. BUT, I know that some of our assistants aren’t getting paid – which is really frustrating, stressful and upsetting. So, just keep this in mind when planning things for them to do.
Helping to Prep
Can they help you prep any activities? Maybe you can ask them to research into teaching something online. For example, if a student has an IEP goal for working on counting to 10 – ask your assistants to spend 30 minutes online finding ways that you can teach this through distance learning. Maybe they can create the resource, help prep it, upload it to your Google classroom etc.
Most platforms that you use – including Google Classroom – will allow you to upload videos. Why not have your assistants record a quick video each day to upload to the portal? It could be things like..
- Working on letter of the day.
- Teaching a new sign.
- Singing a song and signing along with it.
- Saying hello to students.
- A video completing a task or chore around the house, and then challenge students to do the same.
Stories have always been a huge part of our classroom. And I’m sure this will be the same for most of you too. However, a lot of our students may not have access to books or story time at home. So, why not offer this as an extra?
Ask your staff to record themselves reading some stories at home and upload a new one to the portal every couple of days/weeks.
I know some classes have private Facebook groups for their students parents. Perhaps you can have them go live (If they feel confident enough!) once a week in the evening to read a bedtime story.
You can also use this time for interacting too.
Prep for Back to School
So, I know that nobody knows when we are going back to school yet. But, I bet there’s still things you’ve been wanting to get done in your classroom but never had the time.
Why not ask your assistants if they’ll help you prep for this? Maybe it’s putting together some Christmas craft activities (Trust me, there’s no such thing as being over-planned!)
Things that usually take a little bit of time for you to complete over the summer – ask your assistants if they’ll help you prep these.
There are so many options available for online professional development that will be perfect for your assistants to do now. Maybe you have assistants who have wanted to access certain training before. Or maybe you’re looking for something new to introduce to your classroom – now is the perfect time to take advantage of the training!
For example.. Attention Autism are putting videos each week in their Facebook group for example sessions that you can try out too.
Any generic questions that students are asking on Google Classroom or whatever portal you’re using, see if your staff will be able to answer some of these. It means it’ll save you time at the end of the day trying to catch up on them.
During Video Sessions
Have your assistants join you in your video sessions. Your students will love getting to see them – and they’ll enjoy it too, I’m sure! Plus it means you have staff online with you. This usually makes it a little less nerve racking for us all!
You can do circle time, lessons etc. And have your assistants help you out.
Let’s face it. You are one person. And you are not going to have the time to do individual check-ins with all of your students. But, you could ask your assistants to do this with your students too! Especially if they are able to help them with anything that they may be struggling with.
A few years back we posted some postcards home to our students over the summer holidays. And they LOVED it! So why not do the same now? Ask your staff if they’ll be able to type up some notes for your students and then send them to them via email – or mail them to them if they don’t have access to internet.
What themes do you have for next year? Write them down. Then ask your assistants to be in charge of different subjects/areas and to research activities that you can all do together.
You can even have them put together activities ready for these!
Those are some ideas that I’ve been able to think of for using paraprofessionals during distance learning. Do you have any other ways that you are using your assistants? Share with us in the comments down below.
If you found this blog post about using paraprofessionals during distance learning helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues on social media.
You can also check out my recent blog post where I share my top 5 activities for teaching students about staying healthy during school closures here.
P.S. Have you signed up for a 3 day free trial of our VIP membership yet? If not, click here to do it now and go and get access to a huge range of resources, templates, crafts and more for free.