I want our public school system to train and mentor with the intention to promote, all education support staff.
This includes education support professionals, paraprofessionals, paraeducators, special education assistants, bilingual assistants, preschool assistants and instructional assistants.
Anyone who's job is to work with students towards their educational goals.
I want them to be interned to be the lead teacher or therapist and be prepared to substitute or be promoted to the jobs that they assist or do alongside licensed professionals.
I want paraeducators to be trained and promoted to be certified teachers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech language pathologists and most importantly licensed behavior ttherapists.
I want this because paraeducators spend the most time with their students and know them the best. Instead of having special education students spend 80% of their time with assistants who have little training and no say in the lesson plans, I want students to spend 100% of their time with licensed support staff.
I want this because paraeducators do most aspects of the jobs they support and most of the behavior support in special education classrooms.
Paraeducators do Speech Therapy when they:
Do sight word practice,
Help kids learn how to decode phonics,
Ask a student clarifying questions about a passage they just read in a book.
Teach a student how to communicate with pictures
I want paraeducators to be trained and promoted to physical therapist because para-educators do physical therapy when they:
Help students with physically challenging tasks in gym class.
I want paraeducators to be promoted and trained to be occupational therapists because paraeducators teach valuable life skills when they show a student:
How to use a three fingered grip on a pencil,
How to open a milk carton and shrink wrapped food packaging,
How to wash their hands,
How to be more independent in the bathroom.
How to use a zipper
how to open a locker.
How to take their jackets on and off.
How to tie their shoes
I want paraeducators to be trained and promoted to be licensed behavior therapists.
Most special education classrooms have no licensed behavior therapists and rely on the special education teacher to develop a behavior plan. I have observed Clover Park School District and Franklin Pierce School District use behavior techs.
All special education classrooms I have worked in, during my 15 years of experience, in special education have one to four assistant teachers or paraeducators.
My personal observations tell me that In special education the more profound the need of the student, and the more extreme a student's behavior is, the more likely they will be served by a paraeducator or an assistant teacher.