First off, I have a list of expectations I hand out and we went over it together. One of the biggest rules I have with myself and my staff is that I run my classroom as if my boss, or a parent is standing inside the door. I run it as if my child or their child were one of my students. Now this doesn't mean we don't have fun, because my kids are great fun and we have great times. But I do want my classroom to be a professional environment all the time. My kids deserve that.
So does this work? Mostly yes. My work likes to move our IA's around a lot and even though they will deny this, I believe some are put into my rooms because they need "structure" and I have "structure". It seems every year I finally get everyone on board and then the new school year starts and I have to start all over again with new IA's. I do seem to have better success with ones who are also parents as I think they can put their own child in the place of our students and they know what they would want for them. We meet bi-monthly for an hour and because we are a team I really love their ideas and input and we use them often. This is also the time I bring up any issues I see happening. I also bribe them. I bring them little snacks or lunch a couple times a month and send home fun little things my kids do that their kids can as well. All this to make sure they know how much I appreciate them. I also thank them every day when they leave for their help. People who feel appreciated are much better workers.
So, the reasoning for this post was that during a conversation with my new IA last week, while talking about having private conversations in front of kids, he told me that he completely understands since my kids are "verbal" and they know what's going on. But..... the basic life skills class, from which he came from, it wasn't such a big deal he said, since the kids were non-verbal and didn't understand what the staff was saying. Now this is where I wanted to SCREAM! I immediately asked him to set up the projector and screen and went to my computer to find this wonderful video clip I keep on hand for this exact occasion. He sat quietly for 10 minutes and watched the video. He probably wouldn't appreciate me telling you this, but he cried. I saw him wipe tears. He is a father, he understands. I think he's going to work out great.
So, here is the link to the video. It's only 10 minutes long and it should be seen by EVERYONE who works with special kids. This is not an isolated case, I have seen it over and over for many years. It really makes you think.
Father and daughter win struggle with Autism