Introductory Challenge

One of the interesting, or perhaps confusing, experiences associated with starting a new job is to figure out who the actors are and what they are doing. We’ve all had this experience. Some of us have had it many times. How has that gone for you?


Imagine that you have been hired as a paraprofessional and are going to your new school for the first time. You will be working at Northeast Middle School in Ms. Hanson’s language arts classroom. The class has a number of students who receive special education services. But you will also be working with any students who seem to need special help. You’ll be interacting with Ms. Hanson, the students (some speak almost no English), the other teachers on the language arts team, the intervention specialist, the speech therapist from the Northeast Educational Service Center, many parents, and the principal and assistant principal.


The point here is to think about all the new people you will be likely to meet from the perspective of what we’ve been talking about in this module on communication and collaboration. Answer the questions from that perspective.


  • What messages do you want to send Ms. Hanson about yourself on the first day? By the end of the first month? How will you communicate these messages?
  • What messages do you want to send the students about yourself by the end of the first month? How will you communicate these messages?
  • What will you ask about the language arts team? Whom will you ask?
  • How will you determine your own communications strengths and weaknesses? How will you improve your communications overall?
  • How will you judge the quality of communications from your new colleagues?
  • How will you judge your new colleagues’ engagement with the instructional mission?

As with other activities in the module, this one will be more fun if you consider the scenario with other educators who are participating in a workshop or with a colleague with whom you work.