With Thanksgiving coming up, many people are thinking about what they are thankful for. I know that I am thankful for good Instructional Assistants, or paraprofessionals, every. single. day.
I literally could not function without them and because of this, it is important to show your gratitude. They do amazing, grueling work, love our students, and keep the classroom running. They are overworked and under-appreciated. We’ve talked about how to communicate with paraprofessionals, now let’s talk about how to appreciate them!
In our classroom, we try to show our appreciation as often as we can, not just on Paraprofessional Appreciation Day (usually the first Wednesday in April, FYI). Sometimes we show it in words or gestures or physical ways. The thought is that the more we show them how much we appreciate them, the more motivated they will be to keep up the great work. Once a month we will do something to acknowledge their great work as a group but you can find ways every single day to appreciate your staff.
Here are 13 ways to show appreciation to your paraprofessionals:
Free ways to show your gratitude:
- Smile and thank them for what they do. A little acknowledgment goes a long way.
- Switch out with them when they are having a tough time and let them know that it’s OK to take a break. We invented a code word in our classroom as a way for them to say they need a break or for me to ask if they need a switch out. Our code was “Do you need some chocolate?”/”I need some chocolate.” If the schedule allows and you have a few minutes, switch out and give them a 5-minute breather.
- High fives are great. These days, you could do an elbow bump instead.
Low cost ways to show your gratitude:
- Bring in munchkins.
- Learn their favorite candy and surprise them now and then.
- Make something silly like Especially Education’s teacher first/then board
- Hot cocoa in a mug
Higher cost ways to show your gratitude:
- Gift certificates to their favorite places.
- Get lunch delivered to the school
- Put together a gift basket
- Make/Have t-shirts made supporting them
For more ideas on how to show appreciation to paraprofessionals, check out these articles:
Also, check out my free PDF download with some ideas on how to show paraprofessional appreciation!
What do you do to show your appreciation to your paras? Let me know in the comments or send me a message on Instagram @sleepyowlteaching!