Instructional Assistants

I have to say, throughout my career I have been blessed with awesome instructional assistants. They really run the class when I am away so frequently. One year I was on so many different committees that I literally was out of the classroom half the year.

And, oh by the way comment, that was the year I also finally learned to say no. Just because I am able to quickly figure things out and get stuff done, doesn’t mean I need to be on every freaking committee on the planet.

My first assistant taught me a lot as a new teacher. He was in his late 20’s. I told him straight out, he had 5 or 6 years experience already, I will do some things that he knows I shouldn’t do or could do better or more efficiently. Let me have those moments and I will figure it out 😀 I just asked him to watch out for me and don’t let me fall on my face 😀 He was also the principal’s son, which helped somewhat but not as much as you might think

Let me digress a moment. The office staff at that first job was amazing. I learned so much from them about how to function as a professional and they helped me so much getting the piles of paperwork done that come with the territory. I know it helps them when we stuff right so they can get stuff done right too, but still I know they all went out of their way to help the newbie 😀

My second assistant was kind of a mess, but she definitely had all her heart in helping the kids when she was there. She was a single young mother. I don’t remember specifically but she had a lot of home/personal issues that kept her away from work for days and weeks at a time. I was lucky enough to get a few really good long term subs for her and made it through that year. I also had teachers and assistants on either side that helped cover some of my students when I couldn’t get an assistant for a day or days.

The third instructional assistant I took as a favor 😀 Another teacher friend of mine at another site was assigned this assistant and there was just a terrible personality clash. They were roughly the same age but the assistant was slightly older. She had a mothering kind of personality and my friend felt smothered. Things worked out okay with me and this new assistant, she could be a little annoying at times, but I understood where she was coming from and we got along okay.

The next instructional assistant I had was a trip. She was on her second marriage, had a teenage son with her first husband and two little ones with her second husband. They also had a DJ business they ran on the weekends. She’d share on Monday’s with the class the crazy gigs she had over the weekend. That was good times.

The next instructional assistant I had was/is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. She was a stay at home mom for many years, but with a daughter in college and a son finishing high school, she wanted more for herself so she applied for and got a job as an assistant a year or two both I had the opportunity to work with her.

The next two instructional assistants I shared with 4 other teachers. That was just an all-around great experience. We were all new hires to start a new program to address the issue of so many high school students not proficient in basic skills. It was at the start of the state wide testing program in the late 90’s when districts were trying to figure out how to change that. In my case, they hired a bunch of smart people, and said, figure it out! 😀 The four of us worked together and planned and with the support of our assistants we made a lot of progress with our students. The assistants were two local college girls, lots of energy and enthusiasm. The students loved them.

I must say my next experience with instructional assistants was probably my most challenging as I had three of them. Managing them was almost as much as managing a room full of students without assistance 😀 They were a great bunch of people. A 40 something mom with kids, and 2 30 something guys with families of their own. The all had one child each of roughly the same age and those kids participated on the same local youth sports league teams. There was pretty regular chatter about life and goings on outside the classroom, but as long as they were working with the students and helping them get stuff done, I was okay with that 😀

Well I am currently working with another great group of people that care about kids and want to help achieve stuff and help make life better for them. I can’t imagine ever not doing this 😀


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