Training opportunities for paraeducators are far and few in between. Articulations are meetings with a specific focus for teachers, students aren’t in session that day or have a half day. Using Articulation hours for paraeducators can also be useful.
The goal of the courses should be refreshers for well trained, well vetted teams. What we’ve experienced repeatedly, the articulations keep the learning level of materials in the district too low, geared as an initial training. If used as a reminder to put everyone on the same page is exceedingly useful. The reminders that no matter where one is in the district, the core values are being followed. (With some exceptions, one day, we’ll address those nuances.)
So for administrators thinking of using this time: we really want you to use this time. We want paraeducators, all paraeducators, to receive training. Yes, this includes your Title I, the ELL aides, and the Special Education Aides.
Useful topics to go over quickly (less than 30 minutes)
- District policy with regards to getting students who display suicidal or crisis situations the help they need to be able to continue to come to school
- Reminders of behavior interventions for all students
- The district anti-bullying policy and procedures expected on campuses for reporting and discipline
Useful topics to review or give building courses for paraeducators who work with students (30-40 minutes tops)
- Behaviors and responding to behaviors of students, typically focused on students with disabilities, but very useful for all paraeducators who might also be in the room to help support their paraeducators or the teachers
- Skills for helping to prompt social skills for students with disabilities
- Disability awareness for the staff
- Working on team communication
- Break outs by high school/middle school/elementary school level concerns
Useful things for staff to do during the meetings (45-60 minutes)
- Site based team building
- Building communities of paraeducators
- Site specific discussions about things they need to do for specific students led by a district administrator. Let me clear this up, the administrator is not to put their step in or report staff, but to become familiar with some issues that those campuses are facing, that might be a long term problem as a student grows and graduates on to the next campus. It is not a complaint session about the district session, it is a brain storm session for what can be done with a student, or group of students as necessary.
No one ever likes meetings. For paraeducators unaccustomed to sitting still for more than two hours can be rough. Providing snacks or several bathroom breaks will help stem the tide of discontent. Honoring the paraeducators during this time and reminding them that they are valued and needed is not only demonstrated by including them in these meetings but helps encourage retention.
Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here and here. ParaEducate is 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.