An Autism Connection

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Special Education Blog Hop

It's been awhile since I have blogged. I needed a mental health break, so I have taken one, and it's been great. I am currently in the great state of Colorado, enjoying the sunshine and great company of friends. I came for the NEA annual convention as a delegate, which was a marvelous experience. Afterwards, I met with old friends. So, I will be away from blogging for the next few weeks and will start again in August. But I am still reading blogs and wanted to participate in this blog hop. Unfortunately, I tried to do it by phone, and that wasn't working too well, so I am delayed in posting after I shared my link. However, I have brief access to a computer, and thought I would try to finish up.

You can find the other link-ups at the Tales of a Carolina Girl.

I wasn't able to add the template so I am just going to add my info below.

1. Name: Jannike (pronounced Ya-ni-ka and rhymes with Hanukkah). I'm originally from Norway.

2. Job title: Special Education Teacher, Autism Self-Contained; Co-Chair Special Education Dept.

3. Grades: 6-8

4. Number of years teaching: 12 years total. 1 year as a high school Autism teacher; 5 years as a life skills middle school teacher; 5 years as a self-contained resource teacher-middle school; 1 year  in my current position. Prior to that I was a Paraprofessional for 3 years in a life skills high school program/transition program; prior to that I was a Nurse.

5. Advice: I quite simply could not do my job without the support of the paraprofessionals in my program. When I first started, I tried to be friends with my Paras, since I had been one myself, which made it difficult when I had to give them direction they didn't agree with, or when conflict arose. This is different than being friendly. It took some time for me to see this difference, but I finally did. We might be the same age, or have lots of different or even more, experiences, but we have different roles. So  I  had to establish boundaries. One way to do this is to be very clear at the beginning of the school year what our individual roles are, and what my expectations are for the education of the students we all work with but that I am ultimately responsible for. I have written a very detailed Handbook that outlines all my expectations, our individual roles each day, and with specific students, as well as some educational info regarding Autism and other disabilities. I go over this prior to the school year so that we are all on the same page and I can answer any questions. I also do this with new Paras. I have shared this handbook with my administrators so that they know what is happening in my program. But I also listen to my Paraprofessionals and we plan many activities together. They run stations in my classroom depending on interest and need, and assist me in carrying out the IEP goals and objectives. I never forget that we are a team and I respect what they do, and show it.


  1. Lovely to meet you through the blog hop. Couldn't agree more about being a team player but also being the leader and the responsibility taker. Saying a big thank you is one of my pieces of advice too!
    Special Teaching at Pempi's Palace

    1. Lovely to meet you too. Paraprofessionals are so important to the running of many special education classrooms so it's definitely important to make sure we say thanks! Looking forward to checking out your blog once I get home from my vacation!

  2. I found you through the blog hop and I LOVE your advice! I am still learning to find that balance. I live in a small town, so the ladies that work in my room are women I knew before I took this position. I would love to see your handbook! Have you considered sharing it on your blog?

    A Tender Teacher for Special Needs

    1. Thanks for commenting! That relationship is so important and it takes time and care in order to develop it into something that works! I posted the handbook. Unfortunately, I am on a computer that doesn't support google documents, otherwise I would link directly here, but you can find it in my blog archives in February. The title is Paraprofessional Handbook-google docs. Let me know if there's a problem!

  3. Great advice Jannike (i've been pronouncing your name wrong in my mind). I agree on how important the aides are to our work. I have rules in my class that we go over in the beginning of each year, or whenever I get a new aide. I even have them sign it. Unfortunately I am one of only a few teachers that has any rules what so ever in their room. Hard to get new ones to buy in, especially if they are coming from another teachers class. Once they do buy in, which they always seem to, I only hear great things from them about how the structure works, how much faster the day goes by when you're doing something, and how much better it is for the kids. I tried the friend approach too and I started having a real hard time getting them to do what I needed sometimes. Friendly, not friends, seems to work in my room too.

    Empowered By Them 

  4. Great advice! I'm on month 4 of my first year teaching and was a para for 3 years prior. Still working on staff management. A lot of my paras are superstars who respect me and do all I expect of them with a little guidance, but I've got a few who insist they know better and are constantly tardy coming back from breaks. Any ideas? Was your input taken into consideration when getting your paras or did you just have to accept whoever was sent? I've never had any input with the decision, but I'm hoping that will change when I'm not at the bottom of the totem pole.