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Title of Scenario #1: Elementary educator in need of feedback and/or professional development

Setting of Conversation: In my classroom after school (private)


ME: Hi Jane! Come on in.

JANE (Paraprofessional): Hello! I heard you wanted to see me?

ME: Yes, I did. I got the opportunity to observe Susie in her classroom today, and I just wanted
to provide you with some feedback. How is everything going with your placement with Susie in

JANE: I really love working with the young students. Susie is so sweet and cuddly!

ME: Im glad to hear you are enjoying your role. I am also glad to hear you are developing a
relationship with Susie. Lets talk about my observation this morning. I was there during the
phoneme lesson. Can you explain to me what Ms. Smiths expectations are for her students
during large-group instruction on the carpet?

JANE: Well, the students are expected to sit in their assigned spots on the carpet. Ms. Smith
leads the lesson--today they were learning about letter sounds. She does motions, calls for verbal
responses, or even sings.

ME: Okay. What are her expectations in terms of student involvement?

JANE: She expects all of her students to be present, and to be engaged in the lesson.

ME: Great! So what Im hearing is that Ms. Smiths expectations are that her students are
actively learning and attending to the lesson. This leads me to what I wanted to talk to you about,
which is inclusion. What is your interpretation of this word?

JANE: Inclusion means being included in things, such as games and activities the students are
participating in.

ME: Thats definitely part of it! But we also have to think of inclusion in terms of the classroom
environment. Its really important that we treat Susie just like every other student. She needs to
be following the classroom expectations just like everyone else. When I saw you sitting with
Susie at the back of the carpet, she seemed to be really relaxed and smiling in your lap. I did not
observe her participating in the lesson, or answering Ms. Smiths questions. In the future, I
would like to see Susie be a more active member of the class. You can still sit in close proximity
to her, but you should be encouraging her to participate and redirecting her if she is not following
the classroom expectations.

JANE: Wow, Im so sorry. I guess I was just enjoying being with her, and didnt realize she
wasnt following the rules.

ME: Shes lucky to have an aide that loves her company so much! I know you are committed to
Susie, we just need to work on teaching her the skills she will need to have in order to be a
successful student. On the topic of enjoying being with her, lets also make an effort to
understand how Susie is viewed by her peers. While I know you had the best intentions, sitting
on an adults lap can sometimes be considered babyish. We dont want Susie to be viewed as
different by her classmates. How could you improve on this?

JANE: I hadnt thought of it that way before. I think I can improve on this by just sitting next to
Susie rather than letting her sit on my lap. I can also be less intrusive so she can be more

ME: Those are both excellent ideas. Now that youve received this feedback, you can really start
to improve and grow as a paraprofessional. Could we summarize what I saw today, and what I
would like to see in the future?

JANE: Sure. During Susies phoneme lesson, she was sitting on my lap in the back of the group.
She was sort of lounging and relaxing instead of participating in Ms. Smiths lesson. The other
students are expected to participate, so I need to make sure Susie is following that expectation.
Also, having her sit on my lap was probably not appropriate for the situation. We dont want to
do anything that would lead to our kids being stigmatized. I need to work on encouraging Susie
to be an active member of the class, and hold her to the same standards as her peers.

ME: Excellent. Thank you so much for being open to having this conversation. I know adapting
to a new position can be challenging, so its important we work together to do whats best for
Susie. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to our next
Title of Scenario #2: General educators physical classroom environment

Setting of Conversation: In the general education classroom after school (private)


ME: Hello, Ms. Lin! Do you have a few moments to talk about Fred?

MS. LIN (General education teacher): Sure! Whats going on?

ME: As Ive been making observations this week, I was noticing the seating arrangement in your
classroom. I wanted to see if we could discuss Freds current spot in your room. I would love to
have your input.

MS. LIN: I have Fred sitting in the back of the room. Hes at a table by himself with the
paraprofessionals. He just needs so much extra attention, that it was distracting to have him at the
front of the room. He also displays some unpredictable behavior, and it was disruptive having
him intermingled with the other students.

ME: I completely understand. Ive been a general education teacher, so I can relate to the
struggles of maintaining order in your classroom. I know you are doing your best to help all of
your kids be successful. Lately, Fred has been mentioning that he feels left out in your
classroom. Would you be open to discussing ways we could help him feel more included and
protect his rights as a student?

MS. LIN: I had no idea he was feeling that way. I just thought by giving him personal attention
from the paras, I was helping him.

ME: You have all the right intentions, which is the first step! You mentioned that Fred needs lots
of extra attention. Could you explain what you mean by that?

MS. LIN: He often needs help reading the material, and needs assistance completing assignments
on his own. Things need to be explained to him in great detail.

ME: I can see how that makes it difficult. One problem with one-to-one paras is that the students
dont receive as much teacher attention. We unintentionally assume that since the student already
has an adult with him, they dont need our help. However, YOU are the certified, trained teacher
in this situation. Your instructional strategies are very valuable, and its important Fred receives
assistance from you as well as the paras. Have you considered pairing Fred with a peer mentor to
help him with academic skills?

MS. LIN: I suppose I could do that. What would the peer mentors role be? And what would the
paras do then, if they werent sitting with Fred?

ME: The peer mentor should be a student in your class who displays appropriate behavior and
social skills, who is also proficient in the curriculum. They would just be there to assist Fred like
the paras would be, but in a more inclusive way. The paras could circulate the room, and help
any other students that need support. Of course they can still assist Fred, but by minimizing the
proximity to him, he would have the opportunity to become more independent in the classroom.

MS. LIN: Okay. I could use the extra assistance, if I am going to have adults in my room
anyway. Maybe by moving Fred to sit with the rest of the class, he wouldnt feel so left out.

ME: Exactly! And if he feels like a member of the community, maybe some of the behavior
problems will decrease. What can I do to help facilitate this change?

MS. LIN: I would appreciate if we could meet with the paras together to help them with this
adjustment. I would also feel more comfortable if you could observe and let me know what we
are doing well and what we could improve on.

ME: Im more than happy to do all of those things. Lets schedule a time tomorrow to meet with
the paras so we can implement this change as soon as possible. Thank you for being open to this