One of the downsides of working in special education is the high turnover rate. It's a challenging field and we lose good people because of that. I started last school year with a team of 5 new paraprofessionals in my classroom, and it was tough. When you are constantly working with new people, it takes time to get good systems in place. They have to learn how you run things, you have to learn their strengths and you all have to figure out how to work well as a team.
Enter the communication binder. I needed a way to make sure we were all on the same page. And it was a huge help!
Let’s face it, we are busy and there’s never enough time in the day. I had paras starting at different times throughout the day and I was constantly forgetting to share info they needed. They also felt bad interrupting me when I was teaching to ask a quick question or talk about a day off.
The team communication binder is just a hub for all classroom staff members. I wanted to make sure that whatever system I used would actually help increase communication between us and not just become "another thing to do."
In the front of the binder is our daily communication log. I would jot down notes in the morning when I got to work. This could be anything from a schedule change to a text that I got from a parent that I needed to make sure everyone was aware of, etc. Then I asked my paras to read any notes when they arrived at work and to make sure to check it again or write their own notes before they left for the day.
The next section is for copy requests. I do use a master data sheet binder in my classroom, so my paras know where to go to get data sheets, but sometimes a peer tutor needs copies, or we need copies of certain program data sheets that are not in the master data sheet binder. So we use this section to check for copies needed when there is downtime. Or if someone is already going to make copies and they have an extra minute, they can make copies for whoever needs them.
The next section is for Program or Visual Requests. This could be for specific requests for visual supports or buttons to be added to a communication device. It's also where we would jot down requests for program materials. I also added a pocket folder to this section so that once the visuals were made, they had a place to go until they were put away.
The next section was basically anything that anyone needed from me, which could be a conversation to a training request.
The final section is for Prep Requests. I don't prep at home, only at school, and my team helps a ton with prepping. I added a list for projects that need to be prepped as well as a folder for materials. We had a prep station in my classroom so this helped keep everyone organized and busy.
After implementing this for the last half of the school year, I loved it! It was a great way to keep us all on the same page and have a hub for everything. And of course, I want to share it with you! You can grab your free Team Communication Binder here & let me know how you're planning to use it!
If you’re wanting more info about working with paras and creating a classroom team, check out this post about our weekly staff focus.