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Story submitted by Taya Johnson, Behavior Specialist, Davis Special Education Department
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Ask almost anyone in the Davis School District if they are aware of a team of Paraeducators who appears to have super-human powers for working with behaviorally challenging students and you will be told, “Yes!” The job title for these talented paraeducators is “District Behavior Interventionists” but in reality they are known as “The Behavior Ladies.” The team consists of Marie Wise, Jan Pace, Kathy Prewett, and Kathy Chartier. These ladies are paraeducators who shape, manage, and consistently change the difficult behaviors of the most challenging students.
Marie, Jan, Kathy, and Kathy (“The Kathy’s”) have been together as Behavior Interventionists for almost 5 years. They each bring a unique set of skills and abilities to the team but collectively focus on helping all children succeed in school.
Marie is the most casual of the four but she always comes up with just the right strategy for helping highly agitated students. She makes managing a Jr. High age student in the middle of a tantrum look easy and maintains an impressive “poker face” during any student crisis. Marie has been spit at, bitten, kicked, and hit but comes back to work the next day with a positive attitude and determination to help the student understand that he or she can succeed and be happy at school.
Jan is full of common sense and organization. She reminds our team of what we should be doing and improvements we can make. Jan is our “go to” person on autism spectrum disorders and has an incredible knack for working with students on the spectrum. She works relentlessly with students who have frustrated other school staff and is able to see each student's potential. Jan fiercely loves each child and kindly pushes them to be their best.
Kathy Prewett is our clown and activist. She makes us laugh and allows us to laugh at her as well. However, she is extremely serious about assisting students who struggle at school. She ensures that even the most difficult students see themselves succeed. Kathy implements positive interventions with great detail and makes sure each aspect of a student’s day is full of support, direction, and accomplishment.
Kathy Chartier is our data, research, and detail queen! She documents and researches everything we do. She keeps us informed and rooted in best practices. Kathy uses her knowledge functionally for students and jumps at the chance to help with very difficult classroom and school situations. Kathy never backs down from a challenge and advocates tirelessly for every child.
Individually and as a team these ladies are incredible educators. It is amazing to watch them work! In the Davis District we often wish we had a dime for each time someone has suggested we “clone” them so we could have a person like them in each of our schools. We truly consider Marie, Jan, Kathy, and Kathy our “Dynamic Foursome.”
There are now over 25 presentations we have received and posted on our site from the 2011 National Conference. If you missed the conference or would like to back and review some of the sessions they are available here.
In this keynote we had the opportunity to listen to Kevin Honeycutt, here are some of the resources he shared:
- Lulu.com (Book publishing tool)
- Google Sketchup (Free tool to represent objects and ideas in 3-D)
- AR-media™ Plugin for Google™ SketchUp™ (Tool that lets you see Google Sketchup creations in 3-D)
- ArtSnacks Great White Shark Drawing Lession
- Classroom 2.0
- The Open World Project
- iPhone Apps
Kevin reminded us that it is important to Love to Learn to Learn (L2L2L) and that we can help kids succeed, against the odds:
Check out Kevin's website and check back later for a link to his presentation.
Keyed In, Logged On, Charged Up!Paraprofessionals Connecting with 21st Century Learners
The conference started off this morning with the opening keynote address from Marilyn Likins and Gina R. Scala. Gina talked about knewly revised Knowledge & Skill Standards for Paraprofessionals from CEC (coming soon) and the importance of being involved in legislative issues. Gina challenged everyone in the audience to send a letter to a legislator once a week.
“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
~Harry S. Truman
Marilyn then reviewed the work fo the National Paraeducator Leadership Forum last summer and the top 5 paraprofessional issues that they worked on and some of the common challenges:
- Clarification of roles and responsibilities
- Lack of awareness:
- State and local adminstrators
- Legislators (state and national)
- Lack of leadership at national, state and local level
- Inflexiblility of higher education structures & restrictions
- Funding to support research and training
- Insufficient research
“Coming together is a beginning.
Keeping together is a process.
Working together is success.”
Regarding advocacy, they reminded everyone that, “You must be at the table or you will be on the menu”
Their full presentation is embedded below:
Keyed In, Logged On, Charged Up!Paraprofessionals Connecting with 21st Century Learners
Look for more presentations later today and in the coming days!
The 2011 Conference is quickly approaching and we are looking forward to seeing many of you in Harrisburg in just 3 weeks!
If you haven't yet reserved your hotel room, the Sheraton let us know today that you can still get the special conference rate, but it is only available by contacting Lisa Chenoweth directly at 717-558-4607 or by e-mail at Lisa.Chenoweth@sheratonhershey.com.
If you still haven't decided on whether or not you would like to attend, check out this list of 5 reasons why you won't want to miss this year's conference:
The opportunity to:
- Meet and network with paraprofessionals from other states.
- Attend diverse workshops covering ELL, special and general education, reading, writing, behavior management, nutrition and much more.
- Learn techniques for improving student behavior and academic performance.
- Earn up to 15 In-Serivce or ACT 48 Hours and 1 University Credit.
- Discuss paraprofessional training and career development with local, state, and national leaders.
If you are thinking about attending the 2011 National Conference for Paras in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania but haven't made up your mind, take a few minutes to read over the incredible sessions that will be available at the conference.
Keynote speakers and a full schedule will be coming soon, but the session list will give you a good idea of the number of high quality sessions that will be available.
Don't forget that there is still time to register and receive the full Early-bird discount. See you in Harrisburg!
The Demanding Classroom is a blog run by husband and wife team Sara and Richard Finegan and they have put together a great series of posts on paraprofessionals.
You can view all of their paraeducator posts at this site, a few of which are highlighted below:
- What Are 10 Things a Paraeducator Can Do To Help a Child? Includes great tips such as "Never underestimate the child’s abilities", "Gradually remove supports" and "Do not get into a power struggle with a child".
- When Is a Child Too Dependent on a Paraeducator? One of the signs to watch out for is when "The child resists going anyplace or doing anything unfamiliar without the paraeducator accompanying or helping her, even when there is another adult or student with the child."
- Some Words About: Paraeducator and Parent Communication
It's great to see people writing about paraeducator issues. If you have a blog that you have written about paraeducators, please let us know about it.
Diane Sangelo worked with Rago Blair's son Isaac Rago from grade school all the way up through high school. She developed a special bond with Isaac over the years as she helped him to go from a wheelchair to walking on his own and learning basic sign language to communicate. Her devotion has extended beyond the classroom, spending time with Isaac on weekends and even taking him to summer camp.
Isaac's mother, Jeana Rago Blair wanted to say thank you and submitted a short essay about her son's paraeducator to the Oprah Winfrey Show. The show responded with tickets for both of them to attend Oprah's "Favorite Things" show where Oprah handed out thousands of dollars worth of merchandise to everyone in attendance including an iPad and a new car.
Here's a great quote from this article:
"She has a gift for seeing the potential these kids can make in society," Rago Blair said. "My son would not be the young man he is today without her in his life."
Read all about it:
We recently came across a couple of stressful accounts from paras of their first day back from school:
I'm a paraeducator for children. Today was our first day. I am praying for patience. Not with the kids. The kids are great. My stress levels are so high after this morning, that I have a horrible headache, and my shoulder is killing me from being tensed for so long. (from Lord, it's Monday)
And this one...
So, today was the first day back to work. It should come as no surprise to anyone who works for any big company/school/corporation, that no one knows where my job is going to be yet. I’ve been told not to worry, I have a job, they just don’t know where yet. (from Irene's Weblog)
We thought it might be nice to provide you with a little bit of back to school inspiration from around the web:
I Believe in Me, Do You Believe in Me?
First off, this video from a young man names Dalton Sherman titled "I Believe in Me, Do You Believe in Me?" is our most popular post on the site that we have ever posted. If you haven't seen it, it is definitely a must-see as you start the school year.
Back to School Facts
This Fact Sheet from the Census Bureau has all kinds of interesting back-to-school facts. Did you know that:
- Among K-12 students, 87% of students with a parent or other household member attended a general school or PTO/PTA meeting during the 2006-07 school year.
- 10.9 million school-age children who speak a language other than English at home.
Back to School Guides for Parents
If you are a parent sending a child back to school, there is some great information from the Federal Citizen Information Center on going back to school. That page includes a list of the top 5 reasons students miss school (Watch out for cold season). Also check out this back-to-school guide from Consumer Reports
- Back-to-School Guide for Beginning Teachers from the National Education Association (activities, lesson planning, humhttp://www.educationworld.com/back_to_school/index.shtmlor and behavior management tools)
- Back to School page from Education World (lots of ice breakers and ideas on preparation. Also see their article Back-to-School Guide For Beginning Teachers (And Not-So-New Teachers Too)!
- Top 12 Ways to Start the School Year Off Right (Things like inspire your parents and connect with students’ parents)
What do you do to lower the stress of a new school year? What do you spend most of your time doing the first few days of school?
We have been preparing for the National Paraprofessional Conference in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on May 12th-14th, 2011 and now so can you.
The Early Bird Conference Registration is now open and offers significant savings over the regular priced tickets, take a moment to review the options for registration and signup today!
The conference will be held at the
Help Spread the Word
Please help us spread the news about the 2011 conference by by downloading this Save the Date document with some basics about the conference that you can share with anyone who might be interested.
The NRCP 2011 Paraprofessional Conference has been scheduled for:
May 12-14, 2011
At the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The Call for papers will be posted soon and additional information will be forthcoming.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive conference updates in your inbox!
A teacher named Tami recounts an experience from her first year of teaching:
My kids continued to grow and develop as learners in a happy and caring classroom community.
I cannot however, take credit for all their success.
I had a para educator who was in my classroom most of the day, specifically for 3 of my special needs kiddos.
Her name is Mrs. M.
She was my right hand gal. She was my sounding board, keeper of the peace, and most importantly my friend. It sounds silly, but I couldn't have done it without her! (And until you encounter the title of teacher in a multi-age class with 27 (and soon 29) kids... you don't know the full truth of that statement!)
She then goes on to tell us that Mrs. M was diagnosed with breast cancer:
Tests were taken, surgery performed, a breast removed, chemo started, and one very sick lady left behind.
My classroom wasn't the same without her. We all missed her.
Tami then tell us why she admires Mrs. M and declares her "my hero".
Thanks for sharing Tami!
We recently came across a post titled
100 Essential Blog Posts for the First-Year Teacher. While geared towards teachers, the list includes lots of great posts for anyone involved in education. Categories include Working with Student, Teaching, Classroom Management, Using Technology in the Classroom, Resources, Going Green in Schools, Education Reform and The Future of Education.
Going through the list we came across great posts such as Catch Them Doing the Right Thing and More Classroom Ideas for Old Fashioned Index Cards.
Do you have a blog where you talk about paraprofessional issues? If so, leave us a comment below!
(Also check out this list of 50 Amazing Videos Every Educator Should Watch)
Spanish Fork Junior High (Utah) paraeducator Lesley Johnson was recently named the Nebo School District's Secondary Resource Paraeducator of the Year. From the article:
"I feel like I can't do my job without her," said Spanish Fork Junior High teacher Katrina Davenport. "She's so dedicated and devoted to helping people." Johnson said she's had students refer to her as "Mom." She said they've called out, "Hi Mom!" in the hallways.
First, the bad news...
During the past several months we have heard from many individuals who have attended previous conferences and found that many states, districts, and national organizations are experiencing travel freezes and budget restrictions. Based on this and the current economic downturn, we have opted not to hold a 2010 conference. We want to thank everyone for their interest and support.
Now, the good news...
We are currently in the process of finalizing the dates and location of the 2011 Conference! We anticipate the Call for Papers being posted early in 2010. Stay tuned for more information.
Although we are not holding the National conference in 2010, a number of states are still holding their state conferences. We are working on creating a calendar that will list all of these. If you know of a paraprofessional conference or training opportunity in your state then please let us know!