Please use the comments for discussion and to contribute your reviews, perspective and thoughts. Your colleagues and other visitors will appreciate it! If you need help, please contact us. Requests for help will not be answered in comments.
JENNIFER GOLDBLOOM: Hello and welcome to this online training titled Considerations for Administrators in Supporting and Supervising Special Education Paraprofessionals.
This training package has been developed through the Department of Education's Special Education Paraprofessional Iniative.
My name is Jen Goldbloom and I'm an educational consultant at PaTTAN in King of Prussia. I will be presenting portions of this series along wh two of my colleagues, Shatarupa Podder,
who is a special ed advisor under the Bureau of Special Education, Department of Ed; and Susan Zeiders, who is an educational consultant under the Early Intervention program out of PaTTAN Harrisburg.
My job in this introductory section will be to provide the purpose of the training and to help you navigate the materials,
and let you know how you should proceed through the training materials. The slide that you see on your screen we see on all of our PaTTAN trainings.
And this just lays out that the mission of the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network is to support the efforts and initiatives of the Bureau of Special Education,
and to build the capacity of local education agencies to serve students who receive special education services. And this slide, which you also see on all of our PaTTAN trainings,
focuses on PDE's commitment to least restrictive environment. This commitment recognizes that the placement decision for students with a disability is an IEP team decision.
And the goal for each child is to ensure that individual education program teams begin with the general education setting,
with the use of supplementary aids and services first before considering a more restrictive environment for a student.
The agenda for this training is on your screen, and there are four separate sections that will be provided for this online training module.
You may choose to proceed through the training module all at once, all four sections all at once over the course of a day or so, or you may prefer to take each section one at a time.
And these materials are designed to be used either way. This training is designed for district as well as school administrators who are charged with hiring, monitoring, supervising,
or training paraprofessionals directly, or who supervise teachers or other certified staff who work with special education paraprofessionals and are charged with guiding their work more directly.
This encompasses a wide variety of administrators. You may be a superintendent, a special education director, special education supervisor, a principal, human resources personnel, and so on.
This training will delve into the three main topic areas listed on this slide: laws, regulations, and standards related to paraprofessionals; supervision, policy, team roles,
and ethical considerations; and finally, when and how we use paraprofessionals. For each section, there will be a PowerPoint and there will also be some activities that we will go through.
There will be resources provided that you can use for further investigation after the online session. Here are the general outcomes for this training.
We would like you to be able to identify key laws and regulations related to employment and utilization of special education paraprofessionals in Pennsylvania.
We'd like you to be able to describe the role of different school administrators in guiding classroom team members to build their skills, to understand their specific roles,
and carry out their responsibilities in supporting students with disabilities. And we'd also like you to explore how paraprofessionals can be assigned and utilized in a manner
that supports current best practices in the field. There are several reasons why one might come to this training and might benefit from participating in these sessions.
This may be part -- helpful as part of a corrective active verification plan that you and your special education advisor may have developed.
It might be helpful if a new administrator is stepping into a position to lead the work or paraprofessional -- para-teacher teams in their work,
or to supervise paraprofessionals directly. You may be working as a supervisor, or building or district leader, but want to know more about what is happening with current best practices,
or gain some ideas about how you might change how you are using paraprofessionals in your district or school.
And we hope you are able to take away some valuable information from these trainings. Just a little bit here about navigating the materials.
We've provided these materials. If you're watching this, you know that the materials are online. And part of the materials to help you understand what's available
and how much time the materials will take, we provided an overview of considerations for administrators in supporting and supervising special education paraprofessionals.
And that's just a little chart that outlines what will be involved in each section and about how much time you can allot for that section.
We also would like you to have the PowerPoint slides at the ready when you are going through each section. If there are any activities related to that particular section,
like a particular article or a tool that is listed, it's beneficial that you print those out. The resources will be available for your use and for you to download for later use as needed.
We hope that for each of the sessions, whether you are viewing the session alone at your leisure, or whether you're viewing them in a group training or with a group of administrators or colleagues,
that you do take the time to go through the activities. So when we ask you to stop the tape, stop the recording, and to read an article
or to look at a particular tool, we would like you to do that because that will help you understand the nature of the information that we are trying to share,
and the concept that we're trying to get across to you. So we hope that you would participate fully throughout the session.
As we were developing the materials, we thought it would be helpful to actually hear from some administrators currently working in the field.
And we had the opportunity to interview four administrators from across the state to get their perspectives relating to training, supervising,
and how paraprofessionals are used in their particular local area. We want to thank them at the outset for agreeing to be interviewed.
And what we have done is that we've included some short clips from our interviews throughout the training process, and you'll get a chance to listen to short clips.
We hope to post some extended clips on the same administrator page that is on this paraprofessional page that may be of interest to you in getting more ideas about how you can move
forward with any particular aspect of working through your use of paraprofessionals and hear different ideas from these administrators.
Some of the clips were just a little too long to include as part of the training, but had some interesting information that we wanted to share with you.
But we'd like to thank Rebecca Chadwick, who is an educational consultant at Berks County, IU 14. And she works with the Office of Professional Development and Curriculum,
and has been coordinating the work of paraprofessionals and training options for paraprofessionals across the IU. We'd also like to thank Jen Pesik,
who is a special education coordinator at Abington School District, and works with the paraprofessionals in that school district. Also like to thank Cheryl Wise,
who is a special education supervisory at Montgomery County Intermediate Unit 23, and she works with a lot of the training and monitoring of what paraprofessionals are doing there at the IU.
And Dr. Susan Sams, we'd also like to thank Susan, who is the program director at the DART Preschool Early Intervention Program at Allegheny IU 3.
And she's directing the work of the paraprofessionals who are working in some of the preschool programs out there in the west.
So thank you for your input and ideas relating to this important work for paraprofessionals. Okay, let's move on to the introduction.
And we're just going to cover a few ideas before we get started with the three remaining sections. But what we're going to talk about is, what is a special education paraprofessional
and why this training matters. Briefly here, a special education paraprofessional is a school employee who works under the direct --
under the direction of a certified staff member to support and assist in providing services to children with disabilities or eligible young children.
And in Pennsylvania, we define two types of special education paraprofessionals. One type is an instructional paraprofessional.
And an instructional paraprofessional works under the guidance of the general and/or special education teacher to support educational programming across settings.
Instructional paraprofessionals may be referred to as classroom aides, instructional aides, teacher assistants, job coaches, and the like. But they're responsible for actually supporting instruction
across classroom settings. That's different from the other type of paraprofessional that we talk about in Pennsylvania called a personal care assistant.
And a personal care assistant provides individualized support to students in activities such as daily living, healthcare, behavior support,
or other non-instructional needs. And PCAs may support more than one student during the course of the day, but they can only support one student at a time.
And Shatarupa Podder will be going into more detail about the types of paraprofessionals in the first section under regulations and qualifications.
We just wanted to give you that quick, brief description upfront. So we wanted to talk about the big ideas that serve as the basis for our work in general, and our work with this training.
And really let's think about why this training matters. And if you look at the broad brushstrokes, the goal of education is the same for students who have disabilities and for their non-disabled peers.
We are not looking at a whole separate set of goals when we are trying to educate students who have disabilities.
We also need to think about that leaders are in the position to ensure that services that our programs and personnel provide move students towards those goals.
So if the goals are to be a lifelong learner, to be independent, you know, well-functioning members of the community as adults,
to be able to live and work as we wish, those types of educational goals, those programs that we're providing need to move students towards those goals.
And the educational team members who are providing those services in buildings across the state must receive training and guidance
that allows them to deliver quality services to students to allow them to move towards those goals. So traditionally, the paraprofessional,
or historically I should say, the paraprofessionals really didn't have much of an academic or behavioral background unless they came specifically from an educational background.
We've really upped the ante for students in schools for students who have disabilities.
And they are reaching a lot further academically and socially than they may have in the past when they've been involved in special education.
And the nature of special education itself has changed from that historical special education being a place to really looking at special education as a service.
And we know that students are moving more and more into the general education classroom. Also, the number of paraprofessionals, special education paraprofessionals,
who are serving students in Pennsylvania has increased exponentially over the years. And now there are over 21,000 paraprofessionals working in schools across the state.
So we need to be thinking about how has the role of the paraprofessional changed from the early on role being clerical assistant to a teacher,
possibly working with those activities of daily living, or helping with toileting type tasks or feeding type tasks. Where if a paraprofessional didn't have much of an academic background
or much of any specific training, they could sort of learn it on the job as they went. But the role is really starting to change and move towards a more multi-faceted role.
So while still there are students who need that assistance with those physical aspects of getting through the day, the nature of the job has become more academic,
and teacher -- paraprofessionals are needing to serve students in more inclusive settings and provide a different type of service.
In addition, now in 2012 when this training is being recorded, there is a lot more technology that we have available to assist students to access the curriculum,
and to be able to communicate and do things that they were not able to do to participate more in the general education curriculum. Just as general education and special education teachers,
as well as administrators, have had to improve their skills over time and learn about these new technologies, if paraprofessionals are going to be true supports
in the classroom, we need to make sure that they have the skills as an educational team member to provide those supports to students that move those kids towards those goals of being lifelong learners
and independent citizens. So while you may have heard it said that the students with the greatest need are being served by those who have the least training, that is the paraprofessional,
we really can't stay in that mode any longer. We need to have paraprofessionals who are well-trained and are using appropriate methods that we know are helpful in this day and age.
So when paraprofessionals are well-trained and appropriately -- and used appropriately, they really are invaluable in supporting the growth and achievement of students.
Without this ongoing training and without school leaders understanding how the nature of the job has changed,
we're going to be inadvertently leading paraprofessionals to make their own decisions about how to support students with disabilities.
Or they may be used ineffectively. And sometimes they end up working in opposition to the progress of a student, and actually could be holding students back.
So if we're to provide those types of supports that students really need to move them towards being independent members of the community,
all members of the team, the administrator, the teacher, the paraprofessional, and the parents, need to gain a clear understanding of what the role of the paraprofessional can be,
and how we can best use paraprofessionals. So the goal of this training package is to outline the essential components related to qualifications, ethics, supervision,
and day to day best use of special education paraprofessionals in Pennsylvania. You may choose to go on to the next section, or you can stop here and take a break. Thank you.