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Learning Center Experience
Paraprofessionals and NCLBLudmila Battista, Academic Program DirectorKaplan University Educational Paraprofessional ProgramIt's Official, He's a ReaderDale CurryKaplan University Educational Paraprofessional student
Since the inception of President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 a great deal of attention, conversation and often chaos has ensued as educators, administrators and lawmakers struggle to come to a consensus of how effective it is and what needs to be changed. In fact, with the upcoming reauthorization just around the corner, the dialogue becomes more vigorous…are standardized tests accurate? Should second language learners or special needs children be included? Are “scientifically-based research” strategies really most effective in the typical classroom? Regardless of how familiar one is with the multi-faceted tenets of the Act, if you are a paraprofessional, chances are you’ve heard of NCLB and have strong opinions about it.
The following are some useful resources that can help future and current educational paraprofessionals have a better understanding of how NCLB can affect your role working with children;
However, one thing that has not been under heated debate is the dedication and support that paraprofessionals have to their students day-in and day-out in the classroom. As the Academic Program Director at Kaplan University (a regionally-accredited online university), I am privy to many examples of the unwavering commitment that paraprofessionals have to “their children.” From the very young to the special needs children to the second language learners and the older children at the other end of the spectrum…paraprofessionals have served where they are needed and often have become the champions of their students, the needed support to parents and many times, the ones who have the underlying knowledge to know what’s really going with a student. Although I hear many stories and examples of the selflessness and love that paras have towards their students, the following example (“It’s Official! He’s a Reader!”) is one specific example of a “shining moment” in the life of a paraprofessional that perhaps many of you can relate to all to well! Please read on!
It’s official! He’s a reader! I work one-on-one with a special needs child as a Paraprofessional. He may be a pint-sized seven year old, but boy oh boy, what a handful. I call him Little Guy. His feet can bolt faster than the speed of light, and he has teeth on the other end that he can, will and has used... on me! Many people ask me if I hate my job. No I don’t, because as of today, January 29, 2007, Little Guy is a reader.
Little Guy’s journey to reading did not start with me. We paraprofessionals work together as a team, praising each others’ students when they succeed, and lending support when they bolt or even bite. Listening and cooperating together the paraprofessionals take turns to generalize students’ knowledge across people and to prevent burnout.
This is why today Little Guy read aloud to all three paraprofessionals that he has had at the school. The kindergarten paraprofessional who lost 20 pounds while being his one-on-one. The first grade paraprofessional who patiently did Discreet Trial Training for twelve months to instill letter recognition and phonemic awareness.
And then there is me. We moved to a new campus and those first few weeks of bolting while he learned where to and not to go were exciting. Since returning from winter break we have sat closely together and decoded words. (Did I mention he bites when frustrated?)
Then today, he did it. He read a story about Cam Cat who sat on a mat. He told his teacher, his previous two paraprofessionals, the school secretary, a neighbor lady, the custodian, the librarian, his mom and dad, “Its official! I’m a reader!” Needless to say they were all thrilled…even the custodian!
As a reader, how much easier will a bus schedule be? How much will this add to his ability to take care of himself? I thought about this on the way to his parent’s car and all the difficulty was clearly worth it. The story of the one rescued starfish living on because of a single person’s intervention came to mind. This was a team effort though. Then I saw the look of joy and gratitude on the face of Little Guy’s father, and realized that, "No, I don’t hate my job. It isn’t easy or simple, and not everyone can do what I do…But it is official. Little Guy is a reader."
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