Paraeducators are pretty much the luckiest trainees that are rarely invested in by their district, school, and sometimes even the students. But currently, in California, some districts have access to grants to pay for the education and training of future teachers from paraeducators. And we’re whole heartedly behind this.
Let’s start by acknowledging the fact that not every paraeducator cares about becoming a teacher. It’s not a job for everyone. But for some, it may not be a bad idea. Not just because of the lack of quality teachers in public schools, but specifically the lack of special education teachers. It seems a natural stepping stone for some folks, but some, like our Co-Founder, Renay H. Marquez, resisted. So we finally got around to talking to her about her professional change she’s been dealing with most of the summer.
Renay joined a Teaching Center this summer specifically to start the process of going from paraeduator to special education teacher. And as of September, Renay is qualified, for the state of California, to be a teacher with an emergency credential specifically for special education. But there were some hurdles.
For most taking the journey, the hurdle is either a Bachelor’s degree from a university or college or the series of state mandated tests. For Renay, the hurdle was finding a program that took the demands of real life and was focused on the elements of being classroom ready.
Not all paths are the same. Renay will not be doing a traditional student teaching, instead she will be thrown into a classroom and taking over as teacher of record right away, though both systems of Interning (Renay’s path) and Student Teaching takes the same amount of time (two years).
Renay is spending the rest of this academic year planned as a paraeducator. There is no intention of changing the trajectory of ParaEducate. We are still planning on providing direct help to paraeducators in special education. We still will give weekly blogs during the academic school year. We’re still going to continue to develop our programs and reach out to as many people as we can.
Renay did say though, she would have made the switch if she hadn’t been observing the best teachers for years. There will be some bumps in the transition from taking groups of up to eight students to a caseload of twenty students and managing a classroom, but without having the time of observations of the best, learning techniques to speak to all students and how to handle the chaos that can erupt with nineteen students all who want to go in different directions.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.