As a special education teacher, you know firsthand the value of having a strong team of support in your classroom. Paraprofessionals, or teaching assistants, can be a vital part of that team, helping you to provide the best possible education for your students. However, it is important to ensure that your paraprofessionals are fully trained and prepared to take on their roles effectively.
To help you make the most of your paraprofessionals in your self-contained classroom, here are five important things to train them on:
1. Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
Your paraprofessionals should be familiar with the IEP process and know how to review and implement IEP goals, track progress, and communicate with parents and other members of the IEP team. This will ensure that your students are receiving the supports and accommodations they are entitled to under FAPE (free and appropriate public education).
2. Classroom management strategies
A well-managed classroom is essential for student success. Make sure your paraprofessionals understand and can assist you in implementing your classroom management strategies, such as using visual supports, providing positive reinforcement, and managing transitions.
3. Assistive technology
Assistive technology can make a huge difference for students with disabilities, but it can be complex and overwhelming for those who are not familiar with it. Train your paraprofessionals on the various types of assistive technology available and how to use them effectively with your students. This may include devices like switch-based communication systems, text-to-speech software, or adapted keyboards.
4. Strategies for working with students with diverse needs
Your self-contained classroom likely includes students with a wide range of disabilities and needs. Train your paraprofessionals on how to adapt instruction, provide supports and accommodations, and manage challenging behaviors for students with different disabilities, such as those with autism, intellectual disabilities, or physical impairments.
5. Emergency procedures
It is important to ensure that everyone in your classroom, including your paraprofessionals, knows what to do in case of an emergency. Train them on emergency procedures, including how to evacuate the classroom, communicate with students and staff, and administer first aid. Regularly practicing emergency drills will help everyone feel prepared and confident in the event of an emergency.
By training your paraprofessionals on these five important areas, you can set them up for success in their roles and create a more positive and supportive learning environment for your students. Don't forget to also provide ongoing support and professional development opportunities to help your paraprofessionals feel confident and competent in their roles