This week was Inclusive Schools Week. It is an annual event sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN) which is held each year during the first week in December. Since 2001, Inclusive Schools Week has celebrated how different districts and schools have made progress in
“providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference and other factors.”
It is also a time for educators, students and parents to plan next steps, to realize the work to be done, and ensure continuous improvement to successfully educate all children.
The national TASH conference also was held this past week, but unlike like many of my colleagues, I was unable to attend this year. I am putting it high on my “to-do” list of things to do in the upcoming year because that group, and in particular that conference, is one of the best places to be with advocates and professionals whom are doing this stuff well and making a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. It is always held the first week of December as well, and I highly recommend anyone attending the conference and getting involved with that organization. I have been a member of TASH for years, and have presented at as well as attended many of their national conferences. That group never ceases to inspire me.
Project from Terman Middle School, Palo Alto, CA, from Inclusive Schools week 2011
What I did do this week is a presentation at Palo Alto’s Inclusive Schools Week kick-off event, a precursor for activities that followed every day this week within their schools. The ISN topic this year that they put forward was “Social Inclusion: Not Just a Seat in the Class”. Continue reading →
At LONG last (I realize that I have been away for a while…), I have randomly chosen a winner of my job-embedded paraprofessional curriculum. I placed the names of the commenters in a hat, and had my nine-year old draw one lucky winner (he loves to get into the action!).
The winner is Megan Gross! Megan is an instructional support teacher at an elementary school in Northern California. She currently supports students with mild to moderate disabilities in their general education classes, grades K-2, and has previously worked as an inclusion specialist for students with mild to severe disabilities at an inclusive junior high. She has been asked to support her campus in providing paraprofessional training.
Additionally, Megan is the co-author of ParaEducate, a wonderful book written for paraeducators, by paraeducators. It is a highly valuable resource that I have used to inform my practice, and I think you should check it out to further your understanding of how to support paraprofessionals in the work they do everyday. Megan and her co-author, Renay Marquez, also have a blog dedicated to their ongoing work for ParaEducate. I highly recommend you add it to your reading list!
I am THRILLED that Megan is the winner, as I am anxious for a person that is immersed and knowledgeable in the training and support of paraeducators, as well as the inclusion of students with disabilities, to take a closer look and potentially use my work paired with hers.
Congratulations, Megan! I look forward to our future conversations together!
Do yourself a favor and check out my previous posts that gave an overview and furtherdetails about this fabulous curriculum that you must have!! I have spent a lot of my blog time focused on this curriculum for a reason. It is the perfect time of the year to be thinking about paraprofessional training, and even more appropriate to think about how to do it in your own schools, with your own teams, engaging in conversation about your own students in a staff development format that is grounded in research and what we know about adult and student learning!
In this final post about the curriculum, I will describe the remaining two instructional parts and the units that comprise them. Please don’t forget to comment or ask questions, as you will be entered into the drawing to receive a free copy of the curriculum! All comments and questions from this post, as well as any from the first two posts will be entered for the drawing, and will be awarded next week!
The curriculum is divided into the following four instructional parts, with a total of seven instructional units:
Overview of the four instructional parts of the curriculum and the seven individual units
The first two parts were described here. The parts that I would like to describe today are units three through seven. These five units are especially useful in schools for paraprofessional training. They comprise the instructional and academic areas, as well as promote understanding of behavior and relationships of the students they support. While the first two units concentrate on laying groundwork for paraprofessionals to understand their roles in inclusive settings, the five units I will describe today offer skill development and tools for paraprofessionals to use every day in their work with students. Continue reading →
In my introductory post, I gave an overview of why you need this curriculum. In my last post, I detailed a few more specifics about how we put it together for your successful use.
In this post, and the next one, I will go over the four instructional parts that make up the curriculum in greater detail, and hopefully answer some questions about how to individualize it to your specific needs at your school. Please don’t forget to comment, as you will be entered into the drawing to receive a copy I am giving away at the end of my next post! Continue reading →
My last post introduced you to this valuable curriculum resource. As I said in that post, the timing of taking a closer look at paraprofessional staff development is purposeful at this point of the year. When reviewing IEPs and writing new ones for next year, we look forward to how students will be supported within general education successfully. Paraprofessionals are a piece of that puzzle that cannot and should not be overlooked or under-acknowledged. I do not believe everyone needs a paraprofessional to be successful in general education classrooms and settings, but when individual needs warrant it, then those paraprofessionals must be trained to do their jobs well. Continue reading →
Lately I have been working with a number of parents and schools during this busy time of year, when IEPs are needing to be revisited and plans for next year put in place for kids with disabilities (take a minute to read my posts about IEPs for some ideas of where to begin and important things to think about during this very necessary, and hopefully meaningful, process).
During the conversations I have been having lately, it dawned on me that when people are planning for next year and thinking about what did or didn’t work well this year, the use of paraprofessionals to support kids with disabilities is a central issue that can make or break a student’s success. IEPs that include paraprofessionals must consider quality professional development and the time to do that development effectively for paraprofessionals. Now is the time to start thinking about how that can look, and planning when it will happen. I have a great resource to offer. Continue reading →