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Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation
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Users’ Guide for OPEPP Professional Development Modules

  • The information in the OPEPP modules is for all educators. We have made it open access so you can use the modules and all of our Professional Development options in whatever way you like.  We encourage you pick and choose what looks most useful and most interesting. Trainers can also adapt the materials in the OPEPP modules, so long as they credit OPEPP as the original source.  There are two main groups who use our materials:

(1)Paraprofessionals working on their own.

 (2) Educators, Personnel,  and Administrator who train and support paraprofessionals and want to refresh their own skills and knowledge. 

(3) Preservice Educators who are learning about paraprofessionals and looking to enrich their base of knowledge around special education. 

(4) Faculty who want to embed these learning opportunities into their course expectations. 

Supporting all learners is the core of what happens in schools, and these modules explain concepts and ways of thinking about the teaching and support work that parapros do as part of their important role in schools

 Helping with InstructionCommunication and CollaborationHelping Students Read, and Helping Students Do Math.

We are also working on modules that will cover the following concepts: Behavior Management, Trauma Informed Practices, What do You Sense? and more!

Of course, paraprofessional educators are diverse: their roles in schools differ, job experiences prior to working in schools differ, and their own schooling experiences differ. To support paraprofessional educators performing these varied roles, the modules include content that assists them and the teachers who work with them in developing foundational knowledge and skills. 

General Information

The modules reflect the competencies for paraprofessionals developed by the Council for Exceptional Children, and the essential competencies identified by OPEPP, both of which are listed by module on the OPEPP website.  CEC LINK

As for the units, each includes:

  • Pre/Post Test
  • Practical Scenario
  • Video Slideshow
  • Overview of Major Ideas
  • Specific Content
  • Links to related resources
  • Sections for Taking Notes/Reflections

For Paras Working on Their Own

Focus on your own personal goals and topics of interest. Communicate with your team and leads and ensure you know they think your should focus on per your role.  Check them off as you go to complete in a sequenced manner and have a record of your work to share with your team or just connect to the items that you are interested in one by one and here and there.

Some districts give you a pre-set plan or guidance from your team supervisor. 

Although the units within modules do have a logical sequence, the units can stand perfectly well on their own. We expect most users to pick and choose, and we designed the units and modules with that likelihood in mind. Scan the titles of the units and see what interests you or answers a specific question you might have. If you click on a unit, you can find and read the short overview to help you decide.

You can also wait until we offer these once a year a workshop and participate in the learning with other professionals from around the state. 

For Trainers or Facilitators Working with Groups of Paras

OPEPP has developed and field-tested these modules for the widest possible use because few high-quality professional development (PD) opportunities for paraprofessionals are available. 

The materials in these modules, therefore, are intended for adaptation and re-assembly to suit  your local situation and its needs. They are accessible for use by anyone—and that use includes modifying the elements, altering activities a little, or adding additional supplementary resources. When you make such changes simply acknowledge OPEPP as the original source (a standard acknowledgment to use appears at the end of this guide).

Although the focus of the modules is on parapros’ work in helping to teach, we have found that it is best to have paraprofessionals learning alongside their mentor educators so the units could be done as a team effort to gain information. 

In short, OPEPP encourages selectivity in the use of its modules. Local planning is required. Choose what you need and plan the rest of the training carefully.

Here are some ideas for use:

  1. Conduct a brief needs assessment to see what instructional skills parapros themselves believe will help them in their jobs.
  2. Conduct a brief needs assessment to see what the teachers who supervise parapros believe would help parapros become more comfortable with the instructional helper role.
  3. Convene a planning team that reviews one or more modules to determine which units (or which activities within units) might be best for addressing the needs of parapros in your district or region.
  4. Develop a process for getting feedback from parapros who participate in PD derived from the materials in these units. A simple exit slip asking for “warm” and “cool” feedback might be sufficient.
  5. Review some of the slideshows that the OPEPP team has already developed for districts in Ohio or work with us to design a training package. 

. To help ensure the effectiveness of the effort, start small! Don’t plan a full day of training using these materials alone. Instead, select one or two relevant activities to use in a one-to-two-hour session. It’s also helpful to make the training feel like a special event by being attentive to the need for amenities, such as an inviting setting and snacks or meals.

For More Help

For parapros working solo, most of the units have links to other resources, and there are more of these resources than you might expect. For educators who are working to organize training for parapros, the links in the units are also very helpful. OPEPP also offers fee-based assistance in planning PD for local districts. OPEPP staff are particularly interested in helping educators align PD for their parapros with the district or school-wide improvement plan. For more information, contact Renee Mattson 513-674-8431 mattsorr@ucmail.uc.edu  

Standard Acknowledgment
(for use on all materials and adaptations of the materials)

These training materials were developed in part or in whole from those provided by the Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation primarily supported through a grant (#H325N110007) with the Research to Practice Division, Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Additional support provided by the Ohio Department of Education, Office for Exceptional Children. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Education or Offices within it, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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