Welcoming someone new into your classroom can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when that adult is someone you will be working with day in and day out. BUT! I’m here to help you get a plan in place to calm some of those nerves before your new paraprofessional begins! Let’s take a look at some ideas to get you started!
In my classroom, the first thing I like to make sure a new para has access to is a space for their personal belongings. This could be something as simple as a shelf in a cabinet, or something more such as a desk with a chair. I like to give them a desk because they are able to store their belongings inside of the desk and have the desktop to prep materials. I also like to give my paras a desk calendar for the school year so they are able to mark down important dates and reminders, as needed!
The next must-have for a new para in your classroom is a paraprofessional binder. Here, the paras will find everything they need from routines and procedures, schedules, important student information, and so much more! You can find the binder setup that I use here! This setup is easy to customize to your classroom needs. Remind your paras to keep this binder in a safe spot for quick and easy referencing throughout the year!
Getting to know your paras personally is SO important, especially in a self-contained classroom as you spend quite a bit of time together. I love this FREE para favorites survey found in the Simply Special Ed shop! I include this in the front pocket of the para binder, and ask my paras to fill it out and return it to me by the end of the first week of school. I keep this handy throughout the year as a quick reference for birthday gifts, holiday gifts, and random surprises throughout the year! Even adults need some positive reinforcement to keep up their hard work!
One additional piece that I add to my paraprofessional binders is a staff training schedule. Training your staff is extremely important for the overall functioning of your classroom. New paraprofessionals will appreciate having the extra knowledge of the classroom procedures and routines, while experienced paras will appreciate a refresh of the information, especially if something has changed. Be sure to dedicate time in your schedule at least once per month specifically to staff training. This gives you time to talk as a team, ask and answer questions, and ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the classroom and students.
Just as visuals are important for our students, they are just as important for our staff! The photos above showcase a few of the visuals that I post for my staff (and any adult entering my classroom) around the classroom. When placing your visuals, be sure that they are in central areas where they can be easily referenced! The daily duties and prompt hierarchy are placed in the para workspace, while the stop sign and “We are learning” sign are located right outside of my classroom for all adults to see prior to entering the classroom. I also have additional prompt hierarchies throughout the classroom. Other visuals that are helpful for your paras include schedules (whole-class, student, related service), important reminders, center signs, and task lists/directions.
Pair, pair, pair!
Finally, when a new paraprofessional begins in your classroom it is vital that they pair with your students! Pairing is when an instructor builds a positive rapport with students by combining the learning environment with highly motivating items. We want the paras and students to be comfortable with one another so that everyone has a positive learning experience!
I hope this information gives you a good place to start when welcoming your new paraprofessional! What did you find the most helpful? How do you welcome a new paraprofessional into your classroom? If you have any additional questions, let me know in the comments!