With larger and increasingly diverse classrooms, an overload of paperwork demands and personnel shortages galore, the relationship between the paraeducator and the teacher could not be more critical.
In this Quick Q&A with Ritu Chopra and Caron Westland, leaders of CEC 2015 Convention Workshop, Effective Supervision of Paraeducators: Why, What, and How, they discuss how their Workshop will help teacher educators, administrators, and teachers who work with paraeducators improve the supervisory skills of teachers and create collaborative working relationships between paraeducators and teachers that benefit their students.
CEC 2015: What is the most common issue you hear from paraeducators about their supervisors?
Chopra & Westland: Paraeducators say that they have little or no formal preparation for their duties and look toward their supervisors to provide support. Then, when some teachers are reluctant to supervise them and or are unprepared to work effectively with them, there is a problem. We know that paraeducators perform best when their teachers provide guidance and resources and treat them as valuable member of the team, including advocating for them to attend IEP meetings. We’ll be talking a lot about research-based supervisory functions, interactive tools, and methods you can use to deliver supervision content to preservice and inservice special and general education teachers.
CEC 2015: What is the most common issue you hear from teachers about supervising paraeducators?
Chopra & Westland: Teachers say that they are not prepared for their role as supervisors of paraeducator and that their lack of preparation in supervision is due to the fact that the topic is neither adequately addressed in pre-service programs nor in professional development occurring after employment. This is an issue not only for our teachers, but for our higher education colleagues and our administrator colleagues as well. Teachers need administrative support and time to plan with, observe, and train paraeducators, and also need to understand how to clarify roles when paraeducators do not accept or acknowledge them as supervisors.
CEC 2015: How can teacher educators prepare teachers to be effective supervisors?
Chopra & Westland: We need to see pre-service and in-service training that focuses on research-based paraeducator supervision content, including knowledge of roles and responsibilities of the paraeducators related to instruction, intervention and direct services, as well as role clarification in terms of the ethical and legal role of paraeducators and teachers. In the Workshop, we’ll be teaching skills in structuring and directing the work of the paraeducator, providing quality feedback, coaching, and evaluation, as well as problem solving and conflict management skills, which will come in handy in a variety of situations.
CEC 2015: How will the Workshop help a teacher understand how to turn around a challenging teacher/paraeducator relationship?
Chopra & Westland: Using the CEC paraeducator and special educator preparation and practice standards in supervising paraeducators, we’ll help you build skills in communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution, and show you how to utilize quality tools that support clarity in responsibilities, roles and communication. It’s important for any teacher who’s trying to start a new working relationship or to mend a strained existing relationship with a paraeducator to understand the dynamics of supervising and evaluating an individual who might not have formal training. We’ll show you the tools available for teachers to support paraeducators on a day-to-day basis and get to a win-win-win solution — for the teachers and the paraeducators and, most importantly, the students.
Register now for CEC 2015, the only special education event for ALL educators serving ALL students with NO limits. Already registered? You can add a Convention Workshop to your registration by calling Customer Service at 1-888-232-7733.