Empowering Classroom Aides

What techniques have you found to be most beneficial to help students be just as respectful to the classroom Aides as they are with teacher?

Edited Fri, May 7, 2010 4:06 PM

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I found that establishing a good relationship with the paras that I work with goes a long way in empowering them.  Keeping my tone respectful when I talk with them in front of students, giving them the authority to enforce the rules to the same degree as myself, and creating staff buy-in by letting them be in charge of planning and implementing some activities all help the staff to feel like they have authority.  When the staff feels like they have authority they seem to be able to portray this authority to the students much more consistently and "take charge" in a way that students recognize and respond to.  I also reinforce to the students that I value my paras by backing up their decisions with students, referring students to the paras for assistance rather than just coming to me, and asking for the para's input in lessons and activities in front of the children.  This sends a strong signal to the students that we are a team.

Taking all power and authority from anyone working with children sets them up to fail because they will be unsure of themselves and their decisions when dealing with the students.  Children are very perceptive and will know when this happens.  I had to deal with this several times this school year when environments and situations were such that all the staff felt powerless to deal with a student's behaviors. It's not a fun place to be.

Its been a while since the original post on this question but after talking to a couple teachers and school psychs over the past few days, I thought I would share how we have addressed this area. For us there have been probably 2 main components that have contributed to improvement.

Having aides (instead of the teacher) hold students accountable with 'debriefings' outside of class (well after the student has deescalated) asking the student his viewpoint of the situation/actions, his feelings/perception on the acceptablebness of his actions, and then sharing that if 'X' behavior happens again that there are going to be some type of consequence. Aides are also enrouraged to do mini pull-out sessions with kids as deemed necessary to randomly share feeling on success that they have observed with that particular student.

The second area is that aides have been given areas of rewards that they are responsible for- or rather which they are able to help students be accountable for. For example, we divide up the student store and field trips among the aides and students make all requests and inquiries to the aides about those specific areas. Aides are then able to dictate participation in those events based on their own judgement about each students behavior and shown levels of respect.


As the teacher, I set the tone at the beginning of the school year (whenever that is for each students) that we are all staff members and that respect will be shown equally across the board. Of course this is not THE answer but it has certainly made a measurable difference.

We have a few acronyms that we help students memorize and use (ITSME, BLEAK. FERB, SLANT) and they have proven very useful.


Along those same lines- I thought there was a need to look directly at how it is that anyone working with this population gains and maintains respect from our students.

Here is an acronym that I put together for ED staff:



These steps are a rough outline of how to handle a student who has encountered crisis. If utilized properly, given consequences should serve as the change agent while ensuring that staff/student relationships do not suffer.


1) Verbal confirmation of consequences. (Calm/upbeat affect)
2) Actual consequence administration
3) Cool-Off period (generally after one transition)
4) Student gives VERBAL ACCOUNT based on his own view
5) Staff responses:
a) Empathy b) Appropriate response? c) How to improve?
6) Future consequences?
7) Appreciation of willingness to improve AND affirmation of feelings for student and the desire to see his/her success.



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