George Lucas Educational Foundation

Trouble with Assistant

Trouble with Assistant

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How do you provide support for a resistant older assistant (with a mild to moderate hearing disability that seems to be completely ignored) who consistently "uh-huh's" you when explaining procedures or directions? I've tried: - weekly e-mails detailing what will be discussed in weekly meeting - weekly 1:1 meetings -printed explanations of lesson plans/directions to various activities and procedures - visuals and examples of various clerical items needing completed or activities she is to complete with students - verbal reminders frequently - meetings with assistant principal (s) - meeting with principal - communication binder with emails and written notes back and forth I want to help her be able to do a variety of instructional activities with the students. Currently I only have her working in groups of 1 or 2 with a structured, scripted reading program, which I've collected data and assessment on up until now. All day- she does the exact same thing, and it still gets done wrong 1/2 the time. She literally states that she gets flustered when I ask her to follow a schedule, or do something in the morning and something different in the afternoon. I want her to have an understanding of the students ability levels in the class. We have 8 students and she still doesn't know which student needs assistance with which task. I've explained the IEP's to her. I even had her type up goals and objectives in order to stop and ask me questions about each one. I foresee that my complaints, documentation, and meetings with administration are going to get me no where for the third year in a row.(I am currently in my second year working with this assistant.)I love my school and the program I teach for, so I want to try and make this work. I need to figure out something to do in order to keep my sanity while still having a classroom that benefits the students, not harms them. I know this may sound like a lot of bashing, but I have literally tried everything I can think of. The only thing I haven't tried, and won't, is allowing her to do nothing by arts and crafts with the students. That is what she excels in and what she enjoys. It's been suggested to me to just allow her to do all of that stuff and "sit in the corner" out of the way when I'm doing everything else. I can't find it in me to allow her to do that. I feel that the benefit of a self-contained class is that a small group of students get specialized instruction by two experienced adults. I want her to do better and benefit the students more. My kids do very well with me picking up and correcting the things she does wrong. It blows my mind to think how much better they were doing if time wasn't being lost going over things she does incorrectly. (She will tell the students they are spelling words correctly or giving an answer correctly or reading a book correctly when the student is totally wrong. She gives students answers without providing questioning or an explanation of why it's the correct answer and says "okay, next one". and then tells the student great job.) I have a million and one situations of things she does wrong, and a few of when she listened to me or completed something correctly.

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Dan Burritt's picture
Dan Burritt
retired special education teacher K-12, FIE Trainer from Eureka,ca.

Shelly -i can understand your concern. I too had an aide that was unfit to work with children. I would ask if she is limiting herself with her disability as you have described her as hearing disabled or is she content to collect a paycheck and passive aggressive. I suggest to you visiting and looking at Professsor Reuven Feuesrtein and MLE - Mediated LEarning Experience. This is a long term solution where you can use Intention & Reciprocity, Mediation of Meaning , and Transcendence to engage your aide in uncovering her cognitive dysfunction under the guise of mediating the children under your responsibility. I have had success in the past with the strategu of the aide working with me and the children as a participant in learning how to mediate children and learning how to learning. It was a long term process but eventually she had her selfdiscovery of what her cognitive dysfunctions were and how to overcome them. MLE and his program FIE - Instrumental Enrichment -is a powerful. I have used it with several different populations over the last 20+ years. With MLE -you learn about reciprocity and how to engage learners and establish a parity of learning. The same reciprocity you can establish with your aide.

i would also document daily you efforts with the aide. If you establish that it not a function of her disability (which you must consider - as her behavior of reticent or perceived inability to perform is common with learners afraid to leave there security and attempt the unfamiliar). i would talk with otehr teachers you can trust to assist you with your adm. It sounds like they are not doing their jobs which might include reassigning the aide or dismissal. If you are a union member i would talk to my union rep for help. A union rep can be one to be trusted or at least one to give insight. Bottom line you are responsible for the education and learning of your children. I would be happy to discuss to a greater extent at -

Becky Bergio's picture
Becky Bergio
K-5 Special Ed.-Resource

I had similar experience. Time to put pressure on admin to find her a new home (it's me or her). Document, document document (emails). Maybe endure a cut of hours to her position for a year and that will make her believe that she needs a new home. You could also correct her constantly. Maybe she will get tired and want to leave. It is sad to think that her being moved to someone else (who will have to endure what you have) is the only solution, but it is. Unions are strong. Good luck.

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