Wondering whether you should attend the next conference? Here are some experiences from past attendees.
First, from some Paraeducators from Meadowbrook Schools in Warwick, Rhode Island:
“We attended the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals’ 27th National Conference from April 17 through April 19, 2008. This conference was held at the Hilton Hartford Hotel in Hartford, Connecticut.
"There were a wide variety of presentations for each session. There were 6 to 10 choices for each time slot. At times it was quite difficult to choose just one to attend, but those that we did choose were strictly educational and would be extremely important tools for us to apply at Meadowbrook School.
"The instructors and educators were knowledgeable and motivational. We left fully energized, with new insight and a renewed pride in our positions as Paraprofessionals. We learned how different School Districts in different States view paraprofessionals. We also now understand how different school systems allow the implementation of “on–line”credits for the paraprofessional in order to gain certification without the necessity for them to attend classes during school hours.
"One presenter, Ms. Cindy Meyers, provided valuable insight into the world of children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Another, Jim Olsen, offered two sessions on relating topics: “Cultivating Positive Energy to Overcome Negativity and Adversity Which Can Drain Energy”; and another which shared ways that we would be able to put ourselves back in charge without undermining a child’s sense of security and self-worth. Finally, we attended an amazing session which developed into an open discussion on antisocial behavior. We were able to share ideas and strategies with a standing room only crowd of approximately 50 people. This information was invaluable."
Here is another experience from Zachary Rossetti, Assistant Professor of Elementary Special Education at Providence College:
“I think that the idea of a conference focused on paraprofessionals is incredibly important because they often are working most closely and most often with students with significant disabilities. They are ultimately responsible for actually providing the specific services outlined in student IEPs. A conference such as this recognizes this crucial role and works to prepare paraprofessionals and to alert them of the latest research and ideas around best practice. It also engenders camaraderie that helps all of us re-energize during our busy and stressful school years. I really enjoyed my first conference this past year because I met many dedicated people doing great work, especially several individuals who spoke of being the only ones in their schools or districts fighting for more inclusive supports on behalf of families and children with disabilities.
"I would recommend this conference to all professionals working with students with disabilities (especially administrators, therapists, and teachers in addition to paraprofessionals) so that they can recognize the crucial role of paraprofessionals while learning about latest research and practical classroom strategies. Further, I feel that teams of teachers, therapists, administrators, and paraprofessionals should attend together to help develop real team cohesion that can ultimately serve families and students better.