Paraprofessionals are integral to education and to education teams, and when equipped with resources that support their use of technology to help students learn, paraprofessionals can effectively and meaningfully support students’ learning.
The OPEPP toolkit has two purposes: 1) to help guide educators about how best to use paraprofessional services in remote teaching and learning settings; and 2) to provide resources for paraprofessionals and teachers in the facilitation of virtual instruction and support of students.
Before making decisions about how to use paraprofessional services, districts and schools should confirm with paraprofessionals that they have the technology resources (e.g., equipment, materials, Internet access) necessary to provide virtual support to students (Giangreco, 2020). If they do not, then the district will either need to provide paraprofessionals the resources they need or tailor the kind of support paraprofessionals offer based on their individual circumstances.
There are good reasons for paraprofessionals to be involved in working with students remotely; however, clarification of the roles of teachers, paraprofessionals, and related services providers in virtual settings should be established and communicated. For instance, teachers and related services providers should be reminded that communication with students’ families still remains their responsibility, rather than the responsibility of paraprofessionals. Thus, paraprofessionals need to be given explicit instructions by other educators on what to do if families reach out to them (Giangreco, 2020). While topics might be related to developing knowledge of content (e.g., literacy) or skills (e.g., intervention), training on the use of technology resources, such as videoconferencing, would also benefit paraprofessionals.
Repository of Resources
Because paraprofessionals work with many different students in a variety of contexts this toolkit includes resources that teachers might find most relevant to both their work and that of their paraprofessionals. A brief annotation for each resource is provided. The topics are organized as follows:
Giangreco, M. F. (2020, April 13). College of Education and Social Services Center on Disability Services.
University of Vermont. https://www.uvm.edu/cess/cdci/information-resources-and-updates
Guidance for paraprofessionals on remote learning. (n.d.) United Federation of Teachers. Retrieved
April 27, 2020, from https://www.uft.org/your-rights/safety-health/coronavirus/guidance-on-remote-learning/guidance-paraprofessionals-on-remote-learning