Know School Requirements
School Premise Issues
Often a group of paraeducators will travel together to the schools where they work as paraeducators. This is prearranged with the school administration, and you may ride a school bus or other public transportation. Learn the time schedule and when you are to be at the school. Know which door you should enter. Do you need to sign in or check in at the office before reporting to the classroom?
In cases where you my walk or drive your car to the school, there are some things you need to know. Ask your teacher: Where can I park? Do I need a parking permit? Does it cost to get a parking permit?
Most schools have a dress code that specifies what you can and cannot wear at the school. If your group has a special uniform, such as a shirt that has embroidered logo, you will want to wear that shirt whenever possible. If not, ask the teacher what you should wear. More specifically, there are some things that you cannot wear to the school. Most likely these are clothing like T-shirts with swear words or obscene pictures, shirts that show bare midriffs, etc. Ask the teacher and read about what is and is not appropriate for your school.
When you enter the school as a paraeducator, you become one of the adults in the school who is there to help children learn. You must present yourself in a professional manner. It is important that you know what to tell the students to call you. Is it Mr. or Miss, or is it just your first name? Discuss your preference with the teacher, and come to an agreement.
When the teacher delegates important roles to you, it becomes very important to the teacher and the student you are working with that you are on the job to do what is required of you. However, there may be times when you are ill or unable to go to the school. What should you do to let the teacher know you will not be there to work with the students?
School Safety Issues
We would like to think that there never will be an emergency in the school, but just in case there is a problem, schools conduct safety drills for fire, earthquakes or other emergencies. Learn what drills your school will have and what you role will be if you are present when there is an emergency.
As a paraeducator, you must guard against treating students unfairly because they are “different” in any way. You should be aware that discrimination against students on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, disability, or age is illegal. However, you may notice that not all students have all the same assignments. Students have individual learning needs, so teachers make distinctions between students in the work they assign. Teachers do this in order to meet individual needs. This is a positive practice and not discrimination, because it is based on the student’s educational need.
Confidentiality is an important concept. At least two federal laws require confidentiality. It means you should not talk to other people who do not have a need to know about the students you work with. You may not tell anyone about a student’s disability, if you know it. You may not look at student’s records or share that information with anyone.
So what does this mean to you? Does it include the paraeducators talking amongst themselves about the students they teach? Or does it only apply to talking to people outside the school? What about student records? Ask your teacher what you should say if parents ask you for information about their child or other children. Write what you could say and keep your written record to refer to when you need it.
In this article, you discussed school premise issues and school safety issues with your teacher. Before you got to the school, review the answers you wrote down as you discussed these issues with your teacher. Make sure you understand what is required of you. There will be other issues, which prompt your questions. Talk to your teacher to get answers to these questions.