Preparing General Education Majors, Special Education Majors, & Paraeducator Candidates Together
Preparing General Education Majors, Special Education Majors, & Paraeducator Candidates Together<br />NRCP Annual Conference – 2011<br />Harrisburg, PA<br />Doug Van Oort<br />Paraeducator Certification Coordinator<br />Assistant Professor, Education Careers<br />Kirkwood Community College<br />Cedar Rapids, IA<br />319-398-4936<br />email@example.com<br />
Ann’s Story<br />Ann <br />Takes courses part-time while she works full-time as a paraeducator<br />Paraeducator for several years<br />Started as 1-on-1 paraeducator with elementary student with autism, Ben<br />When Ben transitioned to middle school, so did Ann…Same with high school<br />Enrolled in 100 hour field experience course to meet Level II - Advanced requirement <br />KCC allows completion of field experience as part of paid employment as paraeducator<br />Supervising Teacher - former colleague of mine with masters degree in special education<br />
Thru discussion in our seminars, Ann’s journaling & assignments, and my visit to the school, I learn that:<br />When Ben is in special education room, Ann plans all of Ben’s activities & acquires all needed materials<br />In the two gen ed classes Ben attends, the special education teacher does not collaborate with the gen ed teacher about adaptations…Ann is expected to do that. In one class, the gen ed teacher expects Ann to be totally responsible for planning for Ben…and for his behavior (“He’s your kid.”)<br />
Shortly into the school year, I learn that:<br />Special education teacher going on medical leave for 7 weeks. Sub will be hired, but because of Ben’s intense academic & behavioral needs, Ben will now be moved to another special education teacher’s roster. <br />New sp ed teacher also has masters degree and also is an adjunct instructor in a college’s education department. (I think, “Great! This teacher will assume responsibility for Ben’s learning & behavior, and Ann will provide support, as it should be.”)<br />Wrong. And when Ann brings concerns to teacher and later principal, as I advised, treated harshly.<br />
In Iowa, the paraeducator should not:(based on DOE Guide for Effective Paraeducator Practices, 2007)<br />Teach completely new concepts and skills.<br />Make accommodation decisions outside of a student’s IEP.<br />Be given primary responsibility for the education of an individual student.<br />Ann was doing all of the above.<br />Plus:<br />Similar student situation years earlier.<br />Similar situations in Kansas and around the nation.<br />Have you seen lack of understanding of role distinction?<br />
My Epiphany<br />Ann’s situation reminded me that:<br />Many teachers (some who teach teachers how to teach!) don’t understand distinction in roles.<br />Still “My kid, your kid” attitude in places <br />Wall still exists in places<br />Reminded me that when training paraeducators: <br />“The teachers need to hear this!”<br />“No one’s ever trained me.”<br />“My supervisor isn’t doing this.”<br />Train separately then put together in classrooms & expect it to work.<br />Sports analogy <br />QB, linemen, & receivers never practice together<br />Setter, hitters, & opposite never practice together<br />Point guard, posts & wings<br />
I decided, with 100% support from our Education Careers Coordinator:<br />No longer prepare paraeducators in isolation, but instead alongside future teachers they’ll work with.<br />½ of our coursework for Level I – Generalist had been presented in isolation (DSV-100 Intro to Disabilities Services).<br />Competencies from DSV-100 moved to EDU-110 Exploring Teaching, our first course for Education majors.<br />If Exploring Teaching taken prior to this change, take 1 credit independent study in paraeducator competencies rather than retaking Exploring Teaching.<br />Field Experience for Level II – Advanced had been separate from Education majors’ field experience.<br />Now take Field Experience seminars together.<br />Had separate advising sessions. Now advised together.<br />Instead of DSV and EDU majors, now all are EDU majors.<br />All courses meeting state certification apply toward AA in EDU.<br />However, paraeducator candidates not required to take courses other than those meeting state certification (except Level II – Advanced).<br />
Competencies Educationmajors will gain: <br />Role of paraeducator<br />Teacher’s role in orientation, training, scheduling & utilizing, directing, monitoring & coaching, supervising<br />State certification & how to acquire<br />Intro to human development & factors that can cause disabilities<br />5 most prevalent disabilities (common characteristics & interventions)<br />More in depth look at special education & inclusion*<br />Team effort* (don’t teach in isolation anymore)<br />Teacher’s responsible for teaching them all; not solely the paraeducator’s responsibility (No “Your kid, my kid” mentality)<br />Co-teaching - Co-plan & co-teach lesson (paras are NOT the co-teachers)*<br />Greater emphasis on confidentiality than in past*<br />Assistive technology & adaptations*<br />Supporting students who struggle*<br />Supporting students in math, reading & writing<br />Promoting independence & avoiding Velcro Effect*<br />
Competencies our paraeducators will gain:<br />Better understanding of unequal/differential treatment of minority students & students in poverty (achievement gap)<br />How teachers plan & how paraeducators support planning<br />Methods of cooperative learning, problem-based learning, & discussion <br />Write lesson plans & conduct microteachings in these methods<br />Research base for each method<br />How to effectively support teachers when they use these methods<br />Reflective teaching (or practice) by completing self-evaluations for each microteaching<br />Understanding of human motivation & application in classrooms (research base)<br />More in depth understanding of differentiation by applying to their microteaching lesson plans<br />Overall, a higher level of expectation for their commitment as learners and their professionalism<br />
Differentiation in Exploring Teaching<br />Why Teach? assignment is now Why Become a Teacher or Paraeducator? <br />Qualities of Excellent Teachers assignment now has Qualities of Excellent Paraeducators option<br />Choice of video to watch online: <br />Specific to paraeducators or teachers<br />Choice between observing & interviewing teacher or paraeducator<br />
Benefits seen so far by “including the includers”:<br />Survey of 2 pilot Exploring Teaching sections Spring 2011<br />In past, those who didn’t want 4 years of college or saw that gaining teacher license might be beyond their skills, just left (not sure where)<br />Now, some will find career satisfaction & be effective paraeducators<br />Some will get paraeducator cert & get valuable experience in the field while finishing teacher licensure part-time (experience will better their teaching, will confirm if they want to teach, etc.)<br />Some paraeducators will get jump start on teacher licensure (all our cert. courses lead toward AA in Education Careers)<br />Some paraeducators will see that, “Yes, I can become a teacher.”<br />Survey results<br />
Biggest Challenges:<br />Convincing our 4 adjuncts who teach Exploring Teaching that preparing all together is most beneficial for all<br />Will provide orientation in early June, including reading packet complete with cases & activities, ready-made reading quizzes and test items<br />Ongoing monitoring for quality <br />Student evaluations/surveys each semester (if Dean & EDU Coordinator approve)<br />What have you noticed in your preparation of paraeducator candidates that relates?<br />Questions, concerns, suggestions, etc.?<br />
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