Sunday, September 23, 2007

How to maximize the help I have

I have an aide in my class this year. On the one hand it's amazing for her to be there. For example:
  • I don't have to worry about taking attendance.
  • She knows the community and can tell me what's going on. (Like learning that one of my student's has been absent for over a week because his brother died unexpectedly. When was the school going to let me know?
  • She already knows most of the students and so can help talk with them. This is especially helpful when there's someone who doesn't want to do the work because of this excuse or that one.
  • I can ask a local parent if my actions are appropriate. Sure the students complain I'm too mean and some of the other teachers say that enforcing the rules is tantamount to chopping off my own head. Being validated by a parent who thinks her son was passed along because this school bended rules to easily allows me to continue to say things like, "No, the deal is, you are in your desk working on your warm-up journal when the bell rings." Or, "You know better than to pull out your binder to look up how to do things on a test. That's a 0. You'll get another chance next week."
All of that is to say that I'm not sure how I'd be holding up without her.

But I'm not sure how to maximize her help. Technically, she's there to help me teach the class, especially to help the students on IEPs. (Not that I've seen the IEPs to know who they are. I think there's only one all day, and he just picks up the assignment and goes to the resource room. What they do there, beyond me.)

She doesn't have a strong math background. If I want her to be able to help the students at all with assignments, I need to teach her the lesson before class. This is next to impossible now that the resource room has decreed that aides should always be helping a teacher in the classroom, so we cannot talk during my prep. Before school we have our guard the halls duties. Afterschool she needs to go take care of her family or work the detention room to earn some more money.

She is able to see and hear the lesson multiple times a day. I try to have any assignments worked out for her to look at. But I still feel like there should be some way have her help the students with the math. Any suggestions?


H. said...

Yay for another math blog to read! Just found it through your comment at Dy/Dan's.

Does your aide have enough of a math background to teach basic things like place value, where decimals go on the number line, operations on negative integers? More likely than not, some of your students will be lost in areas that you have very little time to review in class, and you'll be worrying about when to find time to help them one-on-one.

Sarah Cannon said...

H, thanks for stopping by. I've been reading you for the past couple of moths, but haven't commented yet.

My guess is that the comment you found me through is the one that refers to two bad weeks. One of the bad weeks was due to my aide transferring out of my classroom. Cultural miscommunication.

I may still have someone else coming into my classroom, so I'll see what the new aide's comfort level is. Based on the previous one though, I'm not going to trust that she'll be comfortable enough even to teach those basics. I can hope though. Thanks for the suggestion!