Peer Tutor and ParaProfessional Training

Sometimes the best ideas are shared by the participants in my presentations.   Today someone shared a great solution for the common challenge of reiterating the same important information again and again for peer tutors who come into the class throughout the year.  Why not present the information of peer tutor expectations and what you’re hoping to see in their interactions with your students, and then give them the charge of creating their own Video Story lesson for new peer tutors, demonstrating the qualities and behaviors you reviewed in your introduction?  When they are given the responsibility of creating something that shows the necessary skills and teaching these skills to others, they may internalize the information much more quickly.  As a side effect, they may invite their friends to join peer tutoring just so they can have an opportunity to show off their Video Story.

This strategy could also be implemented as part of a paraprofessional training.  You could kill two birds with one stone in this way, because it would be extremely helpful to get our paraprofessionals on board with the ins and outs of editing a Video Story right from the beginning, as well as doing some creative reflection on how to demonstrate the team goals or expectations of their immensely important but incredibly complicated job description.  Some Paras may be resistant to performing for the camera, but they could then take the role of contributing to the brainstorming, scripting, and editing of the Video Story.  Essential themes like confidentiality, safety, respectful speech, focus on students, limited distractions and conversations, following schedules, teamwork and conflict resolution could be addressed in the Video Story.  If nothing else, it would serve to be a great team building exercise as they brainstorm, get embarrassed, encourage each other, and help each other with the details of the editing.  If it actually turns into a Video Story, it would be a great help to show to substitutes (who come more often that we anticipate), new staff, and also to review periodically at team meetings as needed.

I think I will try this with my paraprofessionals.  We will have a team meeting every Monday, so although our first couple weeks may be filled up with urgent information, we could probably work this exercise into the agenda sooner rather than later and work on it little by little if necessary.  As I’m thinking about this, I think it may be good for me to be involved in the creation, simply as a coach during the team-building exercise.  I can ask questions, encourage them, pretend to be a student (wearing a wig or something silly), and offer a step-by-step tutorial through the production process. We want the process of creating their first Video Story to be as pleasant and rewarding as possible so they will be motivated to continue.

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