Monday, March 20, 2006

the problem with paras

Although the issue is being addressed over on the AFT website (see), I'm having a bit of a problem myself.

My dearly loved classroom para for my class of boys has taken a leave of absence. The boys are a maddening crew, always ready to fight one another at the slightest provocation. They swear like sailors, mercilessly tease one another, and like to do just about anything other than sit in a classroom and work. Currently my roster indicates that I should have a class of 9, but with suspensions and all, I generally have about 7. Due to the school's/region's/ city's policy of placement, my class has two very docile (vulnerable) students mixed in with the rough-housers.

Dear Para, having many years of experience, sheltered the docile boys from the brunt of much of the nonsense. She has excellent one-on-one teaching skills, and could handle the very worst the boys dished out. I've learned a lot from her. What she failed to tell me about was how to handle her replacement.

The sub para is evidently overwhelmed with the boys, and by all accounts, intimidated by them. For a week and a half, I have hinted, nudged, and suggested. I have given detailed histories of each of the students, explained the needs and supports of the students, and have directed her about the routines and procedures of the classroom. Yet ... nothing.

Sub para continually elects to hide in a corner (literally), far away from the students, and will only interact with them when instructed to. Today, when I asked how a particular student was holding up in his other classes, she asked, "which one is that?" Lady, you've been with this class for a week and a half, and you don't know their names? There's only seven of them!

Of course, this all means a bunch of meetings need to be held with sub para, and then a meeting with the AP. She doesn't want to be there. I don't want her to be there. And the boys are losing an important structural support for the duration.

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