Instructional Aides Are Critical In TK-5 Classrooms
Teacher aides have always played an integral role in each child’s classroom experience. In a year that has started in a distance learning model, their contributions to the classroom have become even more important. They remain essential in ensuring that students receive more small group and individual attention, especially in distance learning.
In order to be prepared for this school year, aides had the opportunity to attend August Professional Development days alongside teachers to learn how to navigate Zoom tools, work with small groups of students in an online setting, and learn about platforms like Google Classroom. They have adapted to the District’s delivery model and have developed their skills to utilize Zoom, Google Classroom, Seesaw, and more.
Karen Hack, a first grade class at Lafayette Elementary School explained how aides were hard at work even before school began in August to help prepare for the school year: “I helped prepare the materials, information, and supplies for our students and then assisted on the day of the pick-up. During the first few days of school, I helped to launch the class on Zoom, focusing on supporting each student and family as they adjusted to our new ‘classroom.’”
Even though the school year started in a distance learning model, the core work for aides has not changed. Laura Ceridono, a Happy Valley first grade aide noted, “As an aide, it is my responsibility and pleasure to support students, families, and teachers regardless of whether we are at school in-person or in a distance learning model.”
Similar to an in-person setting, aides are utilized to work with students in small groups or individually. They help reteach concepts, assess student work and learning, and monitor students as they work. Teachers will place an aide in a breakout room with students to do one:one work, which allows more students to receive individual attention in a distance learning model, helps with differentiation, and addresses specific student needs. Aides are also critical in assisting teachers with preparing for supply days and more. Mrs. Hack explained, “I have been working with small groups of first graders on reading strategies, phonemic awareness, and sight words. I also organize the work that parents send back each week and put together book bags containing ten just-right books for each student weekly.”
By being part of the Zoom class, aides also develop relationships with the class and are another adult with whom students can connect. According to Mrs. Ceridono, “For me, being an aide is meaningful and rewarding. Given extraordinary circumstances, and a shift to a distance learning model, connecting as a class community has been especially exciting. The teachers are engaging and nurturing. It’s inspiring to work with students as they successfully navigate their way through this new school environment and make strides in their learning.”