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Ongoing Training for Paraeducators

There are many ways in which paraeducators can grow in their professions. A variety of professional development options should be provided to support paraeducators’, the diverse needs of their students, and to allow for career mobility and flexibility. Ongoing professional development should be provided through on-the-job training, in-service training, online learning, conference activities, and more.

Effective Professional Development

Effective professional development:

  • Is ongoing;
  • Includes training, practice and feedback; opportunities for individual reflection and group inquiry into practice; and coaching other follow-up procedures;
  • Includes research, theories and models of adult learning;
  • Uses multiple data sources to evaluate its effectiveness that leads to increased student learning outcomes;
  • Is school-based and embedded in staff work;
  • Is collaborative, providing opportunities for staff to interact with peers;
  • Encourages and supports school-based initiatives;
  • Recognizes staff as professionals and adult learners;
  • Provides adequate time and follow-up support for implementation;
  • Is accessible and inclusive.

Potential Delivery Systems

Potential delivery systems for professional development include:

  • Paraeducator in-service sponsored by the school district;
  • Joint teacher and paraeducator in-service, sponsored by the school district, in which paraeducators are full participants and the curriculum is relevant to both careers;
  • Universities, community colleges, and technical institutes;
  • Resource centers and service providers;
  • Educational service districts;
  • Business, professional, and community organizations;
  • National, state, and local Associations;
  • UniServ offices or councils;
  • Private vendors.

Topic Examples

Examples of professional development topics for paraeducators:

  • Understanding the rights of children and parents;
  • Confidentiality and ethics;
  • Learning about diversity and cultural heritages;
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) issues;
  • Learning the history of special education laws and current federal and state mandates;
  • Understanding the distinction between the roles of teachers and paraeducators;
  • Effective teacher-paraeducator teams / team building;
  • Assisting children to cultivate self-esteem and interpersonal skills;
  • Child development and developmentally appropriate practices;
  • Communicating effectively with team members, students and parents;
  • Managing stress;
  • Understanding and addressing challenging behaviors;
  • Learning skills for time management;
  • Common Core State Standards;
  • Using data collection tools in the classroom;
  • What every paraeducator needs to know about an Individual Education Plan (IEP);
  • Working with students with autism;
  • Math and literacy strategies to enhance learning;
  • Supplemental instructional strategies;
  • Mandated reporting;
  • Health and Safety (e.g., first aid, CPR, blood-borne pathogens, food allergies/anaphylaxis, indoor environmental quality).