Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Instructional Partners: Aides

We recently welcomed five classroom aides to our school to observe some of our instructional assistants in kindergarten and first grade. They left impressed by several things that "just seem so normal for us" and make us the instructionally-focused (yet emotionally nurturing) school we are and strive to be. Here are just of few of the "stand outs" voiced during their brief visit:

·       Instructional assistants are always open to working with their teacher partner. For example, they saw evidence of aides joining in on mini-lessons as a reader, writer, speaker, and listener: taking turns reading from a text, sharing personal writing, listening to pair- shares, and calling on students— just as another teacher in the classroom.

·        When these co-teachers are not participating in mini-lessons they are conferring with kids. The level of questions asked, (open ended, thinking strategy or decoding strategy-based are always encouraging. These dedicated educators always empowered students to seek their own answers by using the word wall, considering their own ideas first, and finally asking permission to share an idea or strategy. Aides always anchored the conferring opportunity in making meaning of the reading or expressing meaning in writing.

·        Another noticing that they commented on was two-way communication between the classroom teacher and instructional assistant. For example, the note-taking strategy of using labels to keep both adults abreast struggles, goals set, or work that had been accomplished with the students conferred with allowed both parties to be “at the ready” for moving and growing the child. Two-way communication between the aide and classroom teacher also stood out as PD learning is always shared, questions are always welcomed and encouraged, and time is devoted to planning so work with students during the day stays efficient. Because all clerical duties are taken care of in the first 20 minutes, the remainder of the day is spent supporting students in whole, small group, or individual situations.
These are just a handful of the great things we do here at BES with our collaborative approach to student learning. It's through working together that we really rise to be the B.E.S.T.!

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