Effective Use of Paraprofessionals Washington County School District Department of Special Education …a rose by any other name… Paraeducator Paraprofessional Teacher Assistant Teacher Aide Para There are 21 titles for “paraprofessionals” What is a Paraprofessional? Paraprofessionals are to assist and support the teacher in delivering services to students with disabilities. The National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals (NCRP) defines paraprofessionals as follows: PARAEDUCATORS/PARAPROFESSIONALS are school/agency employees 1) Whose positions are either instructional in nature or who provide other direct services to children and youth and/or their families. 2) Who work under the supervision of teachers or professional practitioners who are responsible for a) the design, implementation, and assessment of learner progress, and b) the evaluation of the effectiveness of learning programs and related services for children and youth and/or their families (Pickett, 1989). PARAEDUCATORS/PARAPROFESSIONALS are school/agency employees who assist and support teacher directed instruction (Gerlach, 2003) District Support Designated personnel in the district office have the primary responsibility for: Recruiting, screening, and hiring paraprofessionals. Developing appropriate job descriptions. Developing appropriate policies for the employment and training of paraprofessionals. Introduce paraprofessionals to district policies and procedures. Introduce paraprofessionals to professional organizations such as the National Education Association (NEA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Overview of the Paraprofessional Employment Process Beginning January 1, 2006, anyone interested in employment with the Washington County School District as a Special Education Teacher Assistant/Para Professional will be required to complete the following training modules which consist of 4 phases. PHASE I Pre-employment Orientation “This is a Special Education Paraprofessional” Time required: approximately 1 hour prior to interview PHASE II New Employee Inservice “Introduction to the Basics” Time required: 10-12 hours within 60 days of hire PHASE III Increasing Competence Time required: approximately 1 hour per month…ongoing PHASE IV Skill Building (optional) New Paras Beginning July 1, 2006, new paraprofessionals will be given a Special Education Welcome Packet. The packet contains 2 assignments/activities that special education teachers need to be aware of. Orientation Activities for Paras • Site Orientation Activity This activity has been designed to ensure that paras are successful in their new assignment. The activity requires them to become more familiar with their work site. When they have finished the activity, their supervising teacher needs to sign it. Then the para makes a copy and sends it to the Paraprofessional Specialist at the district office. Orientation Activities for Paras • The Paraprofessional Training Manual The Department of Special Education has written a comprehensive training manual that is now only accessible from the district web site. Each supervising teacher needs an answer key for the end of chapter quizzes. The Paraprofessional Training Manual • Paras are encouraged to discuss concepts from the manual that are unclear to them • The manual can be used by teachers as a resource for on-the-job training and staff meetings The Paraprofessional Training Manual Table of Contents Chapter I EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION Philosophy of Special Education Chapter II SPECIAL EDUCATION POLICIES Definition of Disabilities Special Education Process Chapter III OVERVIEW OF INSTRUCTIONAL AND BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES Terms Overview of Behavior Management Motivating Students Instructional Methods Time Management Chapter IV DATA COLLECTION AND OBSERVATION Chapter V COLLABORATIVE PROCESSES Appendix A. Feeding Guidelines for Students with Disabilities B. Transfer Guidelines for Students with Severe Disabilities C. Guidelines for Speech/Language and Hearing Assistants D. Job description for Severe Paraprofessionals E. Job description for Motor Paraprofessionals F. Job description for Behavior Technicians Index The Department of Special Education The Department of SPED will support the Teacher-Paraprofessional team by: Providing a clearly defined role. Meeting with all new teachers to make sure they understand their responsibilities in directing the work of paraprofessionals. Determine what local, state, and federal legal mandates exist for paraprofessional staff development and supervision. Providing professional development opportunities for paraprofessionals and those who supervise them. Design a professional development plan for paraprofessionals. The Department of Special Education has designated the following paraprofessional positions: Resource Paraprofessional Severe Paraprofessional Speech / Language Paraprofessional Motor Paraprofessional Preschool Paraprofessional Professional Development Plan for Paraprofessionals STANDARDS and CORE COMPETENCIES were approved by the USOE and are based on NCLB and IDEA ‘04 Professional Development Plan for Paraprofessionals Teachers are expected to support paras in their professional development. Training will be provided through various means. The SpEd page of the district website has a link to Para Resources and the Newsletter will include information. Teachers will provide on-the-job training. Recognition will be an important component of paraprofessional development The Department of Special Education The Special Education page of the district website has a tab for Para Resources. There is a link to: -this presentation: “Effective Use of Paraprofessionals” - The Paraeducator Training Manual -a pre-employment orientation: “Paraprofessional 101” ROLES Paraprofessional Roles The work performed by paras will vary depending upon teachers’ expectations, paraeducators’ skills and experience, and job assignment. Paraeducators are primarily responsible for assisting and supporting teachers or other certified or licensed staff. Major Responsibilities • Work as a team • Build and maintain effective communication • Maintain student-centered supportive environments • Implement lessons initiated by the teacher or related-service personnel • Assess student needs and progress under teacher direction. Other important responsibilities • • • • • • • • Learn school policies and procedures Perform assigned tasks Support curriculum and instruction Deal with student behavior Work with teachers and other supervisors Assist students with special needs Obtain training and professional development Maintain ethics and professionalism Major Responsibilities of Teachers in supervising paras Plan the tasks that paras will perform Develop schedules for paras Appropriately delegate responsibilities to paras Monitor the day-to-day performance of paras Provide feedback and on-the-job training to paras Share relevant information about para strengths and training needs to principals and district Department of SPED Other important responsibilities Introduce the para to your classroom Provide clear instructions and complete information Assign and delegate tasks Discuss curriculum and instruction Discuss student behavior Promote training and professional development Give feedback and recognition Ideas to effectively utilize and supervise paraprofessionals As teachers, we’re trained to deal with kids. We’re not trained to deal with adults. When working with another adult in the classroom, take a leadership role. Start by getting to know each other. Ideas to effectively utilize and supervise paraprofessionals Clarify roles and responsibilities Strengthen interpersonal communication Competency Areas for Teachers Who Supervise Paraprofessionals 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Communicating with Paras Planning and scheduling Providing instructional support Modeling for Paras Managing the work of Paras Providing On-the-Job Training Advocating for involvement and professional development Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support Consider the impact of the decision. Consider the inadvertent detrimental effects such as student dependence, interference with peer interaction, limited involvement of the general ed. teacher with the student, isolation of the student. Assignment of a one-on-one para should be considered temporary. Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support In too many cases, reliance on para support results in the least trained, least qualified individuals assuming the primary educational responsibilities for students who have the most complex learning challenges. Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support Determination is not based on categorical labels (e.g. autism, deafness, blindness, severe emotional disturbance, etc.) Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support Look beyond student characteristics by encouraging alternative solutions: Peer supports Grouping changes Problem solving strategies Identification of personnel training needs Evaluation procedures to assess the continued need for para support Common criteria for deciding on para support 1. Student needs assistance in self-care (toileting, feeding, dressing, mobility) 2. Student needs intensive assistance in the area of communication support. 3. Student behavior poses a disruption in the classroom. 4. Student poses a direct safety risk to him/herself or others. 5. Student needs intensive on-going support in vital areas (academics, functional skills, redirection) to benefit from instruction. Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Rely on collaborative teamwork Build capacity in the school to support all students. Consider para supports individually and judiciously Clarify the reasons why para supports are being considered Match the identified needs and the skill of the person to provide the supports. Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support Explore opportunities for natural supports. 7. Consider school and classroom characteristics. 8. Consider special educator and related services caseloads. 9. Explore administrative and organizational changes. 10. Consider if para support is a temporary measure. 6. Guidelines for determining the need for paraprofessional support Is it acceptable for students with disabilities to be educated by paraprofessionals whereas students without disabilities receive their instruction from certified teachers? Are we willing to acknowledge that the challenges we face may have less to do with individual student characteristics and perhaps as much to do with our own attitudes and practices? Conclusion Paraprofessionals play a major role in the education of students with disabilities. They are part of a collaborative team where their role is clearly defined and their work is appropriately planned and supported.