Para News

Why I Love My Job as a Paraeducator

The Pittsburgh Morning Sun recently held a 'Why I Love My Job' contest and a paraeducator was one of the entries:

My name is Luci Sullivan. I am an Occupational and Physical Therapy Paraeducator for children with special needs.

I love my job and think my job is the best job in town.

I am fortunate to work with children and a great team of professionals, administrators, teachers, and paraeducators whose mission is that each child reaches their maximum independence and achieve satisfying and fulfilling lifestyles...

You can continue reading her entry here (scroll a little more than half way down the page)

What about you? Why do you love your job?

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Two Paraeducators Begin Their New Jobs

First, from the madmommy blog, a mother returning to work as a paraeducator:

And where, might you ask, am I working? I'm going back to a job I had before the munchkin was born; paraeducator for special ed kids. This time I'll be working in a high school environment. I'm a little nervous, as it's been two years, and back then I worked with younger kids, but I enjoy the job. We had our orientation today and I must say I feel very psyched to go "back to school".

Next, Jennifer also posts about returning to work as a paraeducator:

So today I started my new position as a paraeducator for the Blue Valley School District. Althought today was really boring, and tomorrow will be as well, I am excited to get started next week. This week is the district wide orientation and para training. Next week I will actually start in my classroom at my school. At first I wasn't sure about the position, but the more I am getting into it, I think it will be really challenging and rewarding. I have been a paraeducator before, I worked with special needs preschool children, which was also challenging. But this position will be even more so, as I will now be working with Severe Multiple Disabilities children at the elementary level.

Any advice for paraeducators returning to work?

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Call for Papers and Conference Registration Now Available

The Call for Papers for the 2008 Conference is now available. The theme for this year's conference is:

United We Educate, PATHS to the Future-

Paraprofessional, Administrator, Teacher, Higher Education, & Other Stakeholders

Conference registration is also now available.

If you are interested in presenting at this year's conference, we look forward to receiving your proposal. We are especially interested in topics that address the following subjects:

  • Statewide assessment activities designed to meet requirements of federal legislation, i.e., No Child Left Behind and IDEA.
  • Hierarchies of skill and knowledge competencies required to work in different levels of paraprofessional positions.
  • Paraprofessional roles in various staffing arrangements and program areas.
  • Training and professional development opportunities for paraprofessionals.
  • Development of effective partnerships among provider agencies, 2- and 4-year colleges, unions, and other stakeholders.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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State by State Paraprofessional Resources

We are excited to officially announce a project that we have been working on for many months- a collection of online paraprofessional resources from each of the 50 US States. Stop by to see what paraprofessional resources are available from your state and let us know if we are missing anything.

We are working to gather the following information from each state:

  • Standards and Guidelines
  • Handbooks
  • Training Opportunities
  • State Specific Posts from our Discussion Forum
  • The Most Official State Paraprofessional Site We Have Found
  • Other Online Resources

In addition to collecting state by state information, we will also list all the resources from each state for each category. To start off, you can find a listing of all the paraprofessional standards and guidelines that we have been able to find. Check back for similar collections for each of the other categories in the coming weeks.

We would also like to gather information on paraprofessional events and news from each state, so send us anything you've got. As always, we are anxious to hear about any feedback that you have

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State Paraprofessional Resources Pre-Release

In anticipation of a big front page announcement next week, we would like to announce a new resource to all of our blog readers. We have been working on this for awhile and some of you received a sneak peek at the conference. It is finally ready for some visitors (and your feedback). Without further ado, announcing...

The National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals State by State Paraprofessional Resources

In case you are wondering, the reason we are announcing it to a limited audience at first is because we need your help. We have gathered paraeducator resources from all but two of the fifty states and we are sure that there are more out there. Please take a moment to visitor your state page, see what we are missing and let us know.

You can let us know about further resources using this Form. Thanks, and any feedback is greatly appreciated!

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Paraeducator Wendy Berg Receives Award

Wendy Berg of McPherson, Kansas has been a paraeducator for 21 years and recently received the Exceptional Opportunity of the Year Award from the Kansas Council for Exceptional Children. From the article:

“Wendy Berg is an outstanding teacher,” said Klenda, who noted that, although a licensed teacher, Berg prefers working one-on-one with students as a para, instead of having her own classroom and being in front of large groups. Collaboration with special education teachers and regular classroom teachers is an important part of doing the work that paraeducators do in Kansas schools, and Berg excels at this aspect of the job.

Read the article to learn how Wendy uses reinforcements and why she enjoys working as a paraeducator.

Link to Article: Berg receives KCEC ‘Exceptional' award

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Survey of Paraprofessionals on Assignments- Post NCLB

From Tish Olshefski at AFT:

The AFT recently surveyed paraprofessionals on the issue of assignments post-NCLB. We specifically tried to determine if paraprofessionals are ever assigned to work without being under the direction of a teacher as outlined in NCLB. A secondary issue is whether paraprofessionals are assigned to work as substitutes. This is a follow-up to a similar survey we first conducted in 2001. While the incident of paraprofessionals working as substitutes has lessened in that time, there are still a fair number of paraprofessionals working as substitutes.

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Praises for Paraeducators

From the island of Kauai, Hawaii comes a story about the important role that paraeducators play in the classroom:

I help regular education teachers modify student work,” Kaneshiro said. When she is in the classroom, Kaneshiro can see a lot more of what is going on than the teacher who is busy instructing the class. Because Kaneshiro works one-on-one with students, a bond forms and students tell her things they would never tell anyone else.

Link to article: Educational assistants, unsung heroes

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Outstanding Paraeducator Award

A story of the recipient of the Outstanding Paraeducator Award in Marshaltown, Iowa:

After taking a moment to compose herself, Crouse did her best to put into words why she comes to school every day and does what she does.

"I love kids. It’s as simple as that,” she said. “I love them and I’ve always believed in them.”

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...Aides Seeking Better Pay

Townsend, MA- A second-grade teacher states, "There should be more of them. And they should be paid more" as she pickets along with 15 paraprofessionals to send a message that they deserve more.

The teacher goes on:

From preparing worksheets to showing the children how to tie their shoes, teaching assistants do all sorts of tedious yet important tasks that she doesn't have the time to do herself. As the class sizes increase, these assistants, or so-called paraprofessionals, play growingly critical roles in classrooms, she said.

The article also notes:

Since the No Child Left Behind Act was enacted in 2001, skill-sets required for paraprofessionals dramatically increased, and their workload has grown each year as they try to help fill various needs of individual children...

Link to article: N. Middlesex aides seeking better pay

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The Importance of Para Feedback

Dick, who is a special education teacher and parent of two boys with developmental disabilities writes about the need for special education teachers to provide effective feedback:

I have yet to meet a teacher who had spent time systematically training their paras and giving them regular feedback. If the paras are fortunate, they will get an annual evaluation. By then, it is too late to make any real improvements.

He then contrasts the experience of a Para in two different situations- one where she was simply expected to follow the example of the teacher and the other where she received both training and feedback.

What experiences have you had with feedback or a lack thereof?

If you are interested, check out some of his other posts on paraeducators.

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