When my son first began working with a Para (para professional) in school, I remember being a bit skeptical because I wanted someone who would be truly compatible with him. I wanted him to feel comfortable with the person and I wanted to be comfortable too, of course. This was going to be a person that he would have to be with for the entire day and he or she must understand my son. I wanted to also develop a relationship with him or her, one with open communication so that we could better help “our” child. In my eyes, Para’s are teachers as well and they have just as much of an impact as licensed educators.
Time has passed and I can honestly say that I have worked with several of the BEST Para’s out there!!!! I have seen them work their asses off and really work as a teacher would and sometimes even more. I respect them and I my hat tips to them because many of them assist us while maintaining their own caseloads as well. I had a great experience with one just the other day when I was covering a third grade class for the day. He helped me immensely. He assisted me so much that I just couldn’t let his work go unrecognized. The next morning, I marched myself over to the principal’s office and I had to shout him out and tell her how awesome my experience was with him alongside me that day. That para deserved the extra recognition in my eyes!
Working one-to-one with a child or even being a floater in the classroom is tough because you have to develop a relationship with that one child or several and although they may not have all the formal education we as teacher have– they really are teachers! They work with children and are truly dedicated educators in their own right. I have witnessed some taking notes, writing lessons, creating behavioral plans and the list goes on.
I have been blessed to have had two, maybe three, awesome Para’s that have worked with my son. They were all very caring and personable toward him. They really aimed to get to know him and took the time to listen to what he needed. I have always had an ultimate respect for Para’s but these specific few have intensified my feelings. They have made me advocate for Para’s everywhere even more. When I hear people say, “Para’s aren’t teachers,” I think it’s so damn RUDE and self-centered!!! How dare you even think such a thing?! Although Para’s might not have the same certifications, they do the same amount of work to meet the needs of our children. I would work alongside a Para any day especially the ones that have walked into the life of my son.
The one Para he has had for the last two years…. I thank you! She knows who she is! I thank her every chance I get because she truly is a teacher in my eyes!