Delaware Academy for School Leadership

The Delaware Academy for School Leadership supports Delaware Paraprofessionals.

The mission of the Delaware Academy for School Leadership (DASL) is to improve public education by developing and supporting school and district leaders throughout all levels of their careers.

One level that is often not included in developing and supporting schools is the paraeducator. Most paraeducators receive little or no training and learn while on the job. Paraeducators often attend training that does not apply to their role during district professional development days or they are not required to attend. Often their professional learning is not prioritized as part of the district professional development plan. Dr. Sylvia Henderson, Assistant Superintendent of the Capital School District, decided that the paraeducators in Capital School District deserved their own professional development and collaborated with DASL to provide three learning opportunities for them. Her goal was to validate their role in the district by providing professional development exclusively for them and to provide them with skills and knowledge to more effectively work with their students and teachers.

Topics in the DASL paraeducator training series include maximizing paraeducator effectiveness using research-based standards; positive interactions with students and behavior management; and confidentiality and ethics. Each session is developed by DASL teaching specialists specifically for the context of the Capital School District, and delivered in interactive sessions. The series provides opportunities for paraeducators to share with other paraprofessionals in the district, role play real school examples, and discuss strategies and techniques for working with students. Sessions are designed to help paraprofessionals connect with others in a similar role in their school and district, and focuses on ways that paraprofessionals can impact student success. This training series gives paraprofessionals tools to communicate and collaborate effectively with their cooperating teacher.

Participants report that one of the top benefits of participating in the DASL paraprofessional training series is learning about strategies for how to work with students in a positive way. They also find it helpful to discuss and share effective strategies they’ve tried with a group of other paraeducators from their district.

Teachers and students benefit from this training series as paraeducators learn and are able to implement effective strategies in collaboration with their teachers.

One participant reported, “This professional development made me feel like my role matters in the classroom and school.” Another reported, “This training series would benefit all paraeducators and teachers who are offered the opportunity to participate.”

Sharon Brittingham

DASL Associate Director

Contact DASL Associate Director Sharon Brittingham, sharonbr@udel.edu, if you are interested in learning how DASL supports all educators in providing relevant, practical professional learning experiences.