If you are still deciding whether or not to attend the National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals Conference in Hartford, CT next year, take a moment to look at the Keynote Speakers who will be at next year's conference.
Are there any Facebook users out there?
Facebook is an online social network where over 50 million (and growing) users go to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances. The National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals has created a presence on Facebook for anyone who is interested to keep track of what we are doing and find other paraprofessionals online. There are two different ways to plug in to the National Resource Center on Facebook:
- First of all, visit our NRCP Fan Page. This is our public presence on Facebook, you can stop by to take a look whether you use Facebook or not. For those of you who are already registered, please consider becoming a fan of the site- you won't regret it!
- We have also created a NRCP Facebook Application that you can add to your personal profile to get your NRCP news from within Facebook.
This is a little bit of a new thing for us so we are interested to find out if this is a helpful service. For those of you who don't use Facebook, you can also this NRCP "Widgit" where you can access your content from Facebook, MySpace, iGoogle or any other number of tools.
The 13th Annual Utah Paraeducator's Conference was held this month in Ogden, Utah and a three paraeducators who received the Outstanding Paraeducator were featured in the local paper:
Joyce Winter works in a functional skills classroom and helps her students in the classroom and in the community. In the article she shares the difficulty of watching students struggle through difficult assignments and the joy that comes with success. She also expresses a desire for more awareness of people with disabilities:
"People need to get over their fear of meeting a special-needs person," she said. "Don't ignore them. Treat them the way you would want to be treated. And if you meet a special-needs person who is struggling, don't be afraid to offer help."
Hector Cortes is a paraeducator in a self-contained mental-health classroom in an elementary school. In the article he discusses the importance of developing a relationship with the students to better understand how to help them. Supervisor Susan Pizitz says of Cortes:
His role becomes much greater than it may look on paper... His presence alone in the room can help calm kids down. He talks with them regarding issues that are restricting their ability to get things done."
Stephanie Hansen is an instructional assistant in a post-high vocational training program. Stephanie helps students to identify their interests and learn the skills necessary to succeed in the workforce. She is currently working on earning her teaching certificate:
"Both of my parents are teachers, but I wasn't sure I would do the same," she said. "But as soon as I started volunteering at the school, I knew that's what I was supposed to do."
Three cheers for Joyce, Hector, Stephanie and the thousands of other outstanding paraeducators out there!
Just in time for Christmas we would like a number of items available for purchase for your favorite paraeducator. To start off there are just a couple of logos, but we will be adding more in the future.
From the store, there are a number of products available with the following designs:
Both of the designs are available on a number of different products including shirts, sweatshirts, bags, mugs and even a mousepad!
In last month's newsletter we mentioned an online paraeducator survey that is part of a study underway and hosted at three major universities in Arizona, California, and Florida.
Here is an announcement from the survey administrators:
A Survey of Paraeducators
Your opinion matters to us! Are you a paraeducator who works in a classroom where students with disabilities are educated alongside of their peers without disabilities? What you do and how you work with the children and the teachers is the subject of a study underway and hosted at three major universities in Arizona, California, and Florida! Co-principal investigators Ann Nevin and Ida Malian attended our conference in Albuquerque. Those who attended their session gave feedback on a previous version of the survey which they said was easy to follow!
From Pennsylvania, a news story about paraprofessionals involved in a contract negotiations. Paraprofessionals from the Bethel Park School District recently attended a school board meeting to help those present better understand their work. Jan Sterrett, president of the paraprofessional union said:
We believe that there are some misperceptions and misconceptions in our school board about what we do... They think we come in and babysit children all day long.
Later in the article, another quote from Theresa Mavrich, vice president of the group:
We want to raise the awareness that we actually are part of the educational team and we do work academically with many of the students and provide valuable services to the district.
What other ways do you think people can be made aware of the important work that paraprofessionals do?
A paraprofessional blogger and mother of three who has decided to go back to school writes about a typical day. Here is just a part of her day as she describes it:
Every weekday I get up around 5:15 am to do a paper route, then get ready for work, try to connect with my 16-year-old son before school, and arrive at work by 7:30 am. I spent the day as a Paraprofessional with Kindergartners through second graders working with the Early Intervention Reading program...
Her day goes on from there. Anyone else willing to share their daily schedule in the comments?
Also, if you haven't seen the video explaining what paraeducators do, it is still available. If you have family or friends who wonder what it is that you do, this video might be the answer!
I found a blog tonight titled Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs by Kate who writes about "resources and ideas for teachers of learners with severe, profound, intensive, significant, complex or multiple special needs." The site is worth bookmarking for the tremendous collection of links and resources running down the left hand side of the page.
The first post that caught my attention is titled Classroom Quotes, a list of funny quotes in her classroom for new staff. For example:
Teacher: Tell me one whale fact.
Student: Don't call me whale fat!
Be sure to read the others, including one involving a paraprofessional. Do you have any funny experiences or quotes from your classroom experiences? Share your story in the comments!
Pat Hensley has 26 years of teaching experience and takes a moment to share some of the things that she has done to create a positive working relationship with the paraprofessionals in her classroom. She goes over many practical tips on how to work together as a team. She explains her feelings towards the role of paraprofesionals:
Sometimes teachers see paraprofessionals as a second class citizen and this is totally wrong. I treated my paraprofessionals as fellow colleagues in the workplace and insisted that other teachers and students treat them the same way.
She also mentions the importance of communication, supporting each other, and giving and receiving feedback. Stop by her site to tell her thanks or offer your own ideas on teachers and paraprofessionals working together.
If you are looking for additional ideas on building better teacher/paraprofessional relationships, you may also want to take a look at A Training Program: To Prepare Teachers to Supervise and Work Effectively With Paraeducator Personnel, a preview of the first module is available here.
The Freetown Elementary School has received a grant for $42,343 to fund paraprofessional positions. From the article:
"The paraprofessionals are a great help. You don't know what you are missing until you take them away," said Principal Robert Frizelle.
There are lots of reasons that people attend our National Conference and last year in Albuquerque, five attendees took a moment to share their favorite part of the conference in this one minute video:
In order of appearance, the stars of the video are:
- Kjell Fenn, Educational Consultant from the The State Education Resource Center of Connecticut,
- Husan Smith, Special Education Instructlonal Assistant the Thomas W. Pyle Middle School,
- Fran Stevens, Vice Principal at Olympic Middle School,
- Theresa Alvarado and Diane Ortize, Paraprofessionals from the Cobre School.
Elona Hartjes has written a wonderful post about the importance of paraeducators in her classroom titled, Paraprofessionals and Teachers Work Together as a Team for the Benefit of Students.
From her opening paragraph:
I’ve been really fortunate to have worked with some wonderful paraprofessionals at different times in my teaching career. These men and women made a huge a difference to the lives of the students in my class. For that matter, they’ve made a huge difference to my life as well.
She then goes on to discuss some of the experiences that she has had with paraeducators during her career. You can also listen to her post on the site. Thanks Elona!
Last year in Albuquerque we had schedule full of wonderful presentations.
For those of you who weren't able to be with us in Albuquerque this year, we have posted a few of the presentations from the 2007 conference. We also have a number of 2006 Presentations available as well.
If you are planning on presenting at the 2008 conference in Hartford, Connecticut, there is still time to submit a proposal.
Here is an example of one of the slides from Ritu Chopra's presentation:
How do you answer the question, "What do paraeducators do?"
The Michigan Saginaw News recently reported on the agreement reached between the Midland County Educational Service Agency Board of Educationand two employee groups:
Read the rest of the story here.
(Jeff Clark) said the agreements froze salaries for the 2006-07 year and give workers a 2.7percent pay increase for 2007-08 and a 1.75 percent increase for 2008-09.