255.  I am an Instructional Assistant and the teacher just sends the kids to me without telling me what subject do I need to work on with the student.   What should I do?


You should immediately request a meeting with the administrator in charge of the Instructional Assistants.   This person should provide for you a Description of your Responsibilities or a JOB DESCRIPTION.   As the word implies, Instructional Assistants are to ASSIST WITH INSTRUCTION, in other words, help TEACH specific students. 

Now, just the other day, as I was training NEW teachers in North Carolina, a young man, brand new to the teaching profession and just out of college from Illinois, admitted that when he was hired he was told he had an Instructional Assistant but that he did NOT know what to do with this person nor how to use this individual effectively in his second grade class with many English Learners.

More surprisingly, during his student teaching he was NOT provided any experiences working with an Instructional Assistant.   And during his college preparation courses to enter the teaching profession he was NOT informed, either, about working with Instructional Assistants.     

So, your teacher probably needs as much help as this young man in understanding how Instructional Assistants help TEACH specific students in the class; and in understanding what are the crucial teacherís responsibilities in terms of planning, directing, coordinating and implementing instructional strategies where the Instructional Assistant and the TEACHER work together, cooperatively, integrating their lesson plans to BEST help the students.

YOU, the Instructional Assistant, can help the TEACHER if you provide your JOB DESCRIPTION for the teacher to understand your role.   Similarly, you could help the teacher understand that your major ROLE and your most important RESPONSIBILITY is to HELP PREPARE students so they can be very successful when the teacher teaches them in ESL or Content Area classes.  

If you help the students understand the key vocabulary, the key concepts and ideas that the teacher WILL PRESENT in her lessons later on that day, AFTER your session with the students, then the students will work more effectively during the teacherís lessons.  

But if neither YOU nor any ADMINISTRATOR helps the teacher understand your role, your most effective and efficient participation within the instructional team, then teachers will fail to use their Instructional Assistants appropriately.



For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:

1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading

Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for
Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for
New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)

Write and e-mail any additional questions you may have, and Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will establish with you, your school or district a Technical Assistance Service Contract. Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK will answer all your questions promptly and to your satisfaction.


For information and credentials please click on the link below or contact directly:


Educational Consultant, Program Evaluator

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Certification (12/2006)

3113 Malcolm Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90034-3406

Phone and Fax: (310) 474-5605

E-mail:  csssadek@gte.net