Your presence in the classroom can be make it or break it. I know it on days you are not here, and I especially know it when a clueless substitute is here to "assist" us. I know it when I feel relaxed about you counseling one of our troubled students, and when another of our cuties hugs you tight. When you juggle our various roles with ease, when you share a great idea or thoughtful insight, it's very clear that INSTRUCTIONAL ASSISTANT is a misnomer. You are a teacher.
Case in point: To meet our students' need for differentiation and very small group instruction, you are asked to teach. (This is true for many elementary special ed IAs.) Even though I prepare the lesson plan, your intuitive approach to each child and ability to react on a dime, both instructionally and personally, make the difference between success and failure. Your assessment notes are invaluable; I must be able to trust your observations. I'm lucky that I do, that I can.
You handle behavior on the playground; you manage the complications of lunch time in the cafeteria (NO SMALL FEAT!). You are required to meet NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND standards, and MY standards are not so easy either. Even better, you set high standards for yourself.
I guess what I'm saying is that your expertise, your ability to connect and nurture and guide our students is absolutely critical to their success. I owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude, as does the school as a whole.
Thanks for all you do. This could be the best year yet.