Introductory Challenge


Tanisha Williams’s son James was having trouble in Latanya McGregor’s math class, where Shelley Jones worked as a paraprofessional. A large part of Shelley’s job involved working with James. He was small for his age and had vision and motor issues. Too often other students picked on and “teased” James. Tanisha was pretty disgusted with what she thought was happening in the math classroom.

Tanisha and Shelley talked one afternoon when Tanisha came by the school to pick up James for a doctor’s appointment. James sat in the car, and the two adults talked on the sidewalk in front of the school.

I’m just so mad at the kids who pick on James in that math class! Miss McGregor is clueless. I can’t talk to her.

Yeah, she’s a new teacher. She has a lot to learn.

No kidding! She needs to learn it fast.

It won’t be fast enough for James, I’m sorry to say. Sometimes I wonder where they find these teachers!

Do you think I should move James to a different school? Would that make things better?

Maybe. Well, I don’t think anybody’s gonna do much for James here. He’s a sweet kid, but lots of kids here are just mean. Their parents don’t care, like you do!  I’m real sorry for James. Maybe it would be a good idea to get him out of here.

Thanks Shelley, you’re a good friend. I’m gonna think some more about this. I wish you could come with us to the new school!


  1. Have you ever heard a conversation like this in your work as a paraprofessional?
  2. What do conversations like this one really communicate?
  3. Besides changing schools, what other approaches might help James?
  4. How could a teacher or paraprofessional determine what other approaches might help?
  5. How do you think Shelley’s principal and supervising teacher would react if they could have overheard this conversation?