Dear Granddaddy, I don’t think I’m working effectively with my paraeducator. Do you have any suggestions? Vinnie W. – teacher

Bestselling and award-winning author, speaker, educator, and TV host.

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 Vinnie, your issue is very common and very important. The first thing I want to do is to share with teachers out there who are fortunate enough to have a second adult in their classroom that they are lucky. Yes, indeed! Teachers who have paraeducators in their classroom are very extremely lucky!

Taxpayers and the school district have gone to great lengths to supply the funds and the extra support of another adult to help teachers help their students. So, once again, the teachers out there with a second adult in their classrooms are lucky.

Now, this might be a mind-shift for some teachers. And I can already hear some of them saying, “The paraeducator doesn’t know the content,” or, “They don’t know what to do.” I can even hear a few of you saying, “This other adult in my room is more work for me.”

Well, the bottom line is that these paraeducators are adults with skills, knowledge, and experiences that can complement what we already know about content and classroom management. Paraeducators don’t have to be content experts because we teachers are the experts. When we teachers have the desire and leadership skills to put aside our feelings or territorialism, and build a positive relationship with our paraeducators, we all win.

When we realize what paraeducators know and can do, and then construct a plan to implement their skills, the level of teaching and learning can soar, and our students can get a world class education. So, now I guess the question becomes, “Do we teachers leading our classrooms have the leadership skills to make this educational dynamic happen?” If we don’t, are we willing to learn them?

So, Vinnie, I applaud you for reaching out and giving educators an opportunity to reflect on how to improve the teaching and learning taking place in our public schools. As we all already know, discussions like this one are very important to the future of our country. So thank you.

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Dan Blanchard is an award-winning author, speaker, and educator who has appeared on over 100 television and radio shows. To find out more about Dan or to submit a question to him, please visit him on his website at: www.GranddaddysSecrets.com.