Ongoing Training and Skills Development in Special Education Workers
To gain employment as a paraprofessional in a New Hampshire public school, a person must have a high school diploma, or equivalent certificate, and a clean criminal records check. Paraprofessionals are staff members who work directly with students with special learning and behavioral needs, often with more direct contact hours than any other school staff member. While the specific education requirements of the paraprofessional are minimal, they are charged with a multitude of responsibilities. No two paraprofessional’s days would look the same, as the level of care, oversight and support varies on an individual basis per the students’ needs.
According to their job descriptions described in the New Hampshire Standards for the Education of Children with Disabilities Ed 1113.12(b)(5) and (c)(4) document, paraprofessional staff providing services to children with disabilities shall:
(1) Work under the supervision of a certified special education teacher;
(2) Be supervised and observed by a certified special education teacher under whom they work as often as deemed necessary by the LEA, but no less than once each week;
(3) Implement a plan designed by the certified educator;
(4) Monitor the behavior of children with whom they are working; and
(5) Assist in the provision of special education and related services.
Important to note is that the skill sets required to engage in the above listed tasks are not necessarily taught or mastered during one’s high school coursework. As noted, paraprofessionals will need skills to implement plans created by others with fidelity, monitor behavior of the student they are working with (which may require keen observation skills, data collection skills, etc.) as well as assisting with the provision of special education and related services which could include a wide variety of tasks specific to that student’s learning profile.
It is because of the discrepancy in level of training required for obtaining a position as a paraprofessional, and the job requirements of that position, that we are highlighting the importance of ongoing training for these staff members.
Professional development days and early release days are fantastic opportunities to bring specific and functional content to a district’s paraprofessional staff. Those who practice within the science of applied behavior analysis (ABA) are trained in a variety of helpful topics that can be presented to help enhance the skill sets of those working in public schools. Topics which would be the most beneficial for new and experienced paraprofessionals alike include: instructional control (building strong relationships and rapport with students), data collection (to assist with IEP goal tracking and assessing whether behavioral interventions are working), reinforcement and visual aids (to support students who need specific systems of reinforcement to appropriately increase new skills and visuals for navigating their day), prompting and prompt fading (to understand how to best support the acquisition of new skills while preventing prompt dependency), evidence based skill instruction (such as discrete trial training and natural environment training), among many others.
Constellations Behavioral Services takes professional development opportunities very seriously as they can be few and far between! We have utilized the proven methods for behavior change to train a group of highly engaging and inspiriting presenters. Please reach out to see our list of newly updated workshops and content areas, or click here for: