Pulling Yourself Up by Your Bootstraps - Paraeducators in K-12

Doug "Blue Skunk" Johnson really hit a nerve when I read his post on, The lost souls of technology training. This is the part that sang out to me:
Paras fall into the category I call the lost souls of technology training - those folks who need basic tech skills, but don't get much attention from our department. We do a pretty good job with kids, teachers, and even the teachable administrators, but some groups have just been left to wander in technology limbo.
Paraprofessionals, or para-educators as I once was told served as the preferred term, are one of the toughest groups to get to. Here's why: In Texas schools, paraprofessionals aren't allowed to attend workshops after work hours unless they are doing so for their own edification and it's unrelated to their job. If they do attend something, they must be compensated.

Think about that.

If I'm a paraprofessional, and I attend a workshop that occurs after-hours that could positively impact the work I do when I'm on-duty, then I have an expectation of payment from my employer. Yes, that's the interpretation that is out there.

When I served as Director of Instructional Technology for a large urban school district, we actually put disclaimers in the front of the professional development handbook stating that no expectation of payment should be present and that paraprofessionals could attend only with approval. You might guess we didn't have many paraeducators attending sessions. Fortunately, I was able to design paraeducator learning opportunities in a series of seminars, and that was very well-received by participants.

So, how do you get past this? You don't offer formal training for paraprofessionals. You put it all online in a elearning buffet and let anyone and everyone learn what they want. If it happens to improve you as a paraeducator, then great but a school district won't have to reimburse you for your time. Thank goodness for YouTube, huh?

If you see this as a problem, what would your solution be?

This past weekend, I spent a serious amount of time digging up video tutorials to help a paraeducator "train herself" into a beginner level technician. There is so much information out there to help us become better at what we do

Check out Miguel's Workshop Materials online at http://mglearns.wikispaces.com

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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