Empower Paraeducators in Your School with PowerUp PD

Paraeducators and other education support professionals (ESPs) have a critical role to play in your plans to integrate technology practices and universal design for learning (UDL) to improve teaching and learning. Working side-by-side with classroom teachers, paraprofessionals can support teachers in preparing universally designed and accessible lesson materials and personalizing instruction through one-on-one and small group instruction.

As you plan your technology-related  professional learning opportunities, be sure to include paraeducators in your school or district activities to build their knowledge and skills. A key part of the PowerUp Technology Implementation Recommendations is the design and implementation of high quality professional learning activities–those that are consistent, ongoing, data-driven, collaborative, and aligned with school initiatives and goals rather than one-time PD activities. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides further guidance and support for the improvement of effective professional learning that specifically includes paraprofessionals.

Supercharging Your Professional Development Opportunities for ESPs

  • Instead of trying to accomplish everything in one PD day, consider providing targeted, bite-sized workshops throughout the year
  • Maximize existing PD opportunities by inviting ESPs to participate alongside teachers
  • Involve ESPs in planning and selecting PD topics
  • Encourage paraeducators to work with teachers to design, implement and share a lesson or activity using evidence-based strategies supported by technology – consider exploring the PowerUp Lesson in Action as examples
  • Provide opportunities that are frequent, aligned with school initiatives and goals, and in a variety of formats and settings (i.e., workshops, seminars, peer coaching and mentoring, collaborating, professional learning networks, collaborating, co-planning, and online learning)
  • Help paraeducators build their capacity and encourage professional growth by designing PD that focuses on strategies, supports, and technologies that can improve outcomes for students with disabilities

Using PowerUp Resources to Help Meet Paraeducator Learning Needs

Increasingly, paraeducators are called upon to provide significant academic support to a wide variety of learners. As their classroom role continues to grow, two of the most commonly requested topics for paraeducator PD are evidence-based strategies and guidance on using and collecting data to modify instruction. Below are some PowerUp resources you can share with your ESPs and build into coaching or peer learning sessions, study groups, or mini workshops:

What's New on POWERUP?

AIR Informs Episode #6: Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities During COVID-19

Remote learning requires adjustment for all students, but students with disabilities face additional challenges during the COVID-19 quarantine. In the latest episode of AIR Informs, Allison Gandhi, managing researcher and director of AIR’s special education practice area, describes some of these obstacles and shares strategies to help students make the most of this time.