Collaborating with Para Educators in the General Education Classroom Presented by: Karen Aron, M.A. TVI, Chandler USD
Session Focus Para educators assigned to K-12 students with VI Strategies for TVI to promote collaboration Strategies for Para’s in classroom Considerations and Resources
Para Educator Definition Support staff who works under supervision of a teacher or other professionals for the purpose of instructional support. IA, TA, EA, etc. Instructional support in core and expanded core curriculum (ECC). Placement: itinerant, across grade levels, 1:1, resource room.
Roles & Responsibilities Varying factors: Student’s existing support Student’s level of need Classroom placement TVI trains and supervises para TVI should provide clear definition of support needs. WRITE IT OUT and review each quarter
Teacher prep programs prepare professionals to supervise and work with students, not necessarily other teachers, professionals, para’s, etc. Proper training and supervision of para’s can help facilitate an optimal educational team. Ideal situations (my dream) Realistic (changes mid-year, no applicants, budget cuts, etc.)
Niche Find out para’s special talent or interests artistic (tactile graphics) physical (P.E. or dance class) musical (music recording) technical (AT devices) bilingual specific curriculum interests Does para want to continue education? braille training
Placement Para should be assigned to classes that student needs minimum to moderate assistance Ex: student has significant struggle in math, the TVI should provide assistance in that class. Para may only want to work with specific grade levels
Placement Conflicts Female para placed with 8 th grade male student who was taking P.E. Para had cultural conflicts with specific curriculum or teacher (i.e. dissecting) Human development in all girls class and male para Student’s schedule (i.e. taking extra classes)
Consult TVI needs to schedule in consult time with para. Develop a weekly communication system E-mail, texting, notebook, phone calls, etc. If district will allow, write it into IEP Support Services 30 mins/wk IA/ Teacher consult
Para set-up Advocate to have para start work before 1 st day of school to meet teachers, help set-up books, work on schedules, etc. Based on student’s needs/ vision, help set-up place for para in each assigned classroom. Front for easier access to board Back to minimize class disruption Discuss professional attire, behaviors in class, computer use, district/ agencies policies. What should para do to report absence or if student is absent?
MODELING Observe student in each of their classes and model at least 1x/ quarter. Mix it up: Give alternative assignment Involve para in IEP development, meeting, reviewing goals, and progress reports. They see more than TVIs on a daily basis. Involve para’s in fieldtrips, O&M sessions, vision classes, etc.
Public Relations (PR) Stand up for para’s when they cannot Discussions with parents Several districts highly discourage para’s having direct communication with parents. Grade-level meetings How can para support student in classroom during specific activities? Consults with classroom teachers “The para is just sitting back!” End of the year dept meetings
SUPERVISE Set-up scheduled classroom visits Provide feedback Select an improvement goal (evaluation) Even seasoned paras need supervision
Collaboration for the Para Educator More than just helping the student
Set-up Understand the student’s visual impairment Ask to participate in a visual simulation. Ask for updates on any vision changes. Report any visual changes that you may observe to the TVI. Learn about student positioning, lighting, equipment, safety concerns, work position, writing, reading, ECC, etc. Get copy of IEP goals and accommodations/ modifications. It’s a learning process for all of us.
Learned Helplessness From www.dictionary.comwww.dictionary.com a mental condition in which one becomes unable to help oneself due to previous failed attempts at controlling one's life; also, a condition in which a person establishes and maintains contact with another by adopting a helpless, powerless stance
Hierarchy of Cueing and Prompting Google Hierarchy of Cueing and Prompting or review website: http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/special- ed/taksalt/rubric/ClarificationCueingPrompting.pdf http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/student.assessment/special- ed/taksalt/rubric/ClarificationCueingPrompting.pdf From most invasive (physical assistance) to least invasive (verbal directions) Para’s should work with TVI to determine current level of cueing or prompting and how to work towards less invasive techniques.
Documenting Para’s should document daily on student’s vision, classroom behavior, needs, etc. TVI can help develop a checklist or efficient documentation system.
ABC’s of behavior Antecedent-what was happening before behavior occurred? (be as detailed as possible) Behavior- describe behavior. Consequence- who responded to behavior and what was consequence.
P.R. Educating staff/ students when TVI is not available. Advocating for department and students. Share with teachers how you are stepping back or implementing new techniques.
Ask for input from teachers & TVI Stay consistent with practice or attitude when TVI or supervisor leaves & across classrooms and activities. Constructive Criticism Perception of paras in the classroom can vary depending on teacher and set-up. (i.e. co-teacher, guest, etc). We are all working ourselves out of a job Consult with TVI if there’s an activity making you feel uncomfortable.
19 Ways of Stepping Back Adapted from Classroom Collaborations by Laurel J. Hudson, Ph.D. (Perkins School for the Blind)
AFB poster Keep this list posted in your classroom Give all para’s a copy Review periodically TVI and Para’s should work through these steps.
Considerations Difference between rural vs. urban areas District employees vs. outside agency Feeling part of the group (eating lunch with co-workers) Working with assistive technology devices. Create an assistance reduction plan Conflict resolution
Resources When You Have a Visually Impaired Student in Your Classroom: A Guide for Paraeducators By Joanne Russotti and Rona Shaw sold by AFB Project PARA (Nebraska) The Paraeducator Self Study Program provides schools with Web-based training resources for paraeducators. The Supervisors of Paraeducators Self Study is designed to be used by schools or teacher-training institutions to provide training for teachers who supervise paraeducators. http://para.unl.edu/ec