Ideas for providing professional development and leadership opportunities for your paraeducators
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Ideas for Providing Professional Development and Leadership Opportunities for Your Paraeducators. Trish Lannon, Carol Hahn, Avery Stanert, and Janet Yingling West Friendship Elementary School. Teamwork Activity. Get into groups according to the card you were given as you came in

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Ideas for Providing Professional Development and Leadership Opportunities for Your Paraeducators

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Ideas for Providing Professional Development and Leadership Opportunities for Your Paraeducators

Trish Lannon, Carol Hahn, Avery Stanert, and Janet Yingling

West Friendship Elementary School

Teamwork Activity

  • Get into groups according to the card you were given as you came in

  • Your challenge is to put together a puzzle

  • What just occurred??

  • How do paraeducators sometimes feel?

  • How do teachers sometimes feel?

Out of the Mouth of Babes…

What Do Paraeducators Do?

  • Paraeducators generally work under the supervision of the teacher.

  • "Para" means "alongside of" and, like paralegals and paramedics who assist and support lawyers and doctors, paraeducators assist and support teachers in a variety of ways.

What Training Do Paraeducators Receive?

  • Nationwide, 70% - 90% of paraeducators are hired without prior training (K12 Advocates, 2008.)

  • HCPSS offers special education paraeducators professional development through the special education office.

  • HCPSS created the Paraprofessional Development office in 2008 with plans to develop professional development for the general education paraeducators.

What Standards Are There for Paraeducators?

  • As paraeducators are being utilized more widely, more and more states are developing standards for them (Pickett, 1996).

  • Approximately 15 states now have some sort of credentialing system for paraprofessionals, and several more states are considering implementing credentialing systems. Some states that don't have credentials have established training requirements. This is especially true for paraeducators working with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Time Spent

What do your paraeducators spend their time doing during the school day?

Post-It Note Activity


  • Research has found that teachers tend to assign responsibilities to paraeducators based on how they perceive the paraeducator role (i.e. clerical v. instructional) regardless of the individual interests, career goals, skills, or abilities of paraeducators (Rueda & Monzo, 2000).

Paraeducator Training

  • In recent studies, paraeducators report inadequate paraeducator training, confusion about roles and responsibilities, low salaries, limited advancement, lack of support, and under appreciation of their contribution (Rueda, Monzo, & Higareda, 2004).

  • Paraeducators who are well trained report satisfaction with learning and are able to apply new skills on the job (Storey, Smith, & Strain, 1993).

Paraeducators @ WFES

  • 6 general paraeducators

  • 5 special ed paraeducators

  • 1 media paraeducator

  • 2 student assistants

  • 3 temporary employees*

Education ranges from having a high school diploma to having a Masters Degree

Years at WFES range from 3 years up to 35 years

This is only our 3rd year with a Media Paraeducator

3 out of 14 (22%) of our paraeducators have been in the same grade for 13+ years

All our paraeducators are women and range in age from 24 to 57

Paraeducators @ WFES

Paraeducator & ITL Surveys

Paraeducator Survey Data

ITL Survey Data

PD Plan for Paraeducators


  • One Wednesday a month beginning in January - Two sessions/groups

  • Topics to be covered: cultural proficiency (first 2 classes), multiple intelligences (class 3), learning style preferences (class 4), and inclusion (class 5)

  • Lunch/Recess duties will be covered for you – you do not need to worry about finding coverage

  • Presenters – Amanda Knab, Lynn Birdsong, Nicole Geiger

  • Dates of PD During the School Day – January 28th, February 18th, March 4th, April 22nd, May 27th

  • Monthly Paraeducator Meetings included Technology training

  • Technology teacher scheduled time with paraeducators for training as needed


  • Once a month as a group

  • Held for an hour before school

  • Technology training was ongoing - provided by the Tech teacher or Assistant Principal

  • Presenters - Lynn Birdsong and Amanda Knab

  • Paraeducators participated in PD groups once a month with the rest of the staff (math, differentiation, and cultural proficiency)

  • No coverage needed

Comparing Data



PD Feedback

  • Loved that I did not have to arrange for any coverage. Thanks!

  • Amanda does a great job with the cultural proficiency teaching. Will she do this for the teachers too? I think they need it.

  • I like that I can leave with stuff I can start using right away.

  • Thank you for asking us about our opinion. It really makes us feel like we are taken seriously.

  • Please have Lynn come back next year too. But I think some of the stuff she is showing us the classroom teachers need to hear.

  • Will teachers get cultural proficiency training? Some of the things they say about kids and staff members are not very nice.

  • My team really needs me with them. I wish we did not have to be pulled from our teams for this.

  • I like that the cultural proficiency classes were done privately with no administrators or teachers. I think we all opened up and got a lot off our chests. Just hope everyone follows through with what we learned.

  • Are we going to continue this next year? I think my team leader would want to be a part of making the schedule.

  • Wish we could do this more. Why doesn’t the county send us to professional development when the teachers go? Couldn’t we at least go to the classes they are going to?

  • The technology training is really too fast for me. I like doing it by myself with Tracey better.

  • Will we ever get decent computers? What is the point of learning technology if we have to use really old computers that are slow and don’t really work.

  • I love learning new things, I just am sooooo tired of listening to everyone sit around and complain!!!

Who in Your School…

  • Team Website

  • Spring Festival/Fair

  • Creates Sped Data Binders

  • Plans a Co-Teaching Lesson

  • Co-Chair of a Committee

  • Runs the SCH

  • Runs NHD

  • Family Reading/Math Nights

  • PBIS Activities

  • Science/Tech Fair

  • Serve on a Committee

  • School Play/Drama Club

  • Works on the School Improvement Plan

  • Schedules IEP Meetings

  • Attends Summer Institute

Paraeducator as Leader


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