An Open Letter to a Paraprofessional
You’d think I’d be a little more attentive. Apparently yesterday (April 6th) was national Paraprofessional Appreciation Day. And its just kind of ironic that I would forget it…
I mean, I basically just talk for a living. When I was a kid in school, I got in loads of trouble for doing that very thing (usually at a volume that was less than acceptable for a classroom). I was a spirited boy, to say the least, with ADHD, and it took my teachers their full effort to keep me engaged and attentive in the classroom. I only bring this up to show some irony. I say this because I married an amazing woman who just so happens to be a paraprofessional that deals with these exact kinds of kids on the daily at an area elementary school.
Frist off, What is a paraprofessional? Also known as teacher assistants or teacher aides, they are educational workers who are not licensed to teach, but perform teaching-related tasks in support of certified educational professionals. In addition, a new bill now gives them the chance to take a class and become qualified as substitute teachers.
So, if you’re a “para” like my wife, I want to say thank you for putting up with and helping kids that are just like I was. I know some days are super difficult. I’m sure you wonder if you’re reaching the kids you work with; those with learning disabilities, behavioral issues, and those with language and speech barriers. Some days I know it seems like nothing you say is working. Trust me. It is. You are super heroes to those kids; just by being there.
Few things excite and engage kids more than the friendly and inviting smile of an adult who is willing to give them the time of day. Kids, that are just like I was, crave that attention and structure. Keep it up. Keep your head high; even on the tough days (that’s when I needed it the most). These kids need you and so do their parents. They may not always say it, so I will for them; thank you for everything you do. You don’t have to do it, and that’s what makes you all so special.