Para questions

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by WayOutWest, May 1, 2006.

  1. WayOutWest

    WayOutWest Rookie

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    May 1, 2006

    Haven't posted in awhile, but it looks like I am heading toward special ed/paraprofessional now.

    Background: I am a soon to be graduated college student. Degree is in Poli-Sci, no classes in education or special ed.

    I spent three summers working at Camp Barnabas, summer camp for mentally and physically disabled. Involved 24 hour care for 7 days straight for a huge variety of disabilities. I think I listed 22 on my resume that I am about to send out.

    Now i am planning on applying for positions as a paraprofessional/teachers aid in special education classroom, in the Boulder/Denver Colorado area.

    Not surprisingly, I have a few questions.

    1. Based on my experience, do you think I can get hired as a para?

    I realize this is a pretty subjective question, but based on the very basic qualifications, do I have a chance?

    2. I know that terminology changes over time and I want to make sure I am speaking the right language in my resume and cover letters. What is the proper terminology when refering to various disabilities and students in special education?

    I have heard...

    Exceptional children
    Special education
    Exceptional needs students
    Handicapped
    Disabled
    Developmentally delayed

    Just wanting to get as much terminology straight as I can before I send stuff out to possible employers.

    3. Any advice on what I need to know going into interviews?

    Thanks for the help in advance!
     
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  3. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    May 1, 2006

    1. Anyone who has actual experience with disabilities before applying to be a paraprofessional is highly valued--don't be afraid to let your interviewers know what you are familiar with as far as disabilities, adaptive equipment, medical aspects (ever worked with people with feeding tubes, trachs, seizures--these are things that make administrators nervous and they like to hear that their potential staff are comfortable in those situations). Your experience will probably make you attractive if there are positions in more severe or life skills type classes available.

    2. That's hard to answer because much of it depends on context, although I've personally heard a lot less of the "exceptional" label used in the context of special ed in the schools (they liked to toss it around in college). Maybe someone else can take a shot at this one.

    3. Be aware of the different types of special education classes in the district you are interviewing, and be ready to be asked what type you would prefer to work in (they may or may not aquiesce but I bet they'll ask). Do you want to work in a student-support type situation supporting students with LD as they are included in the general education classes? Do you want to work in a PDD classroom? Do you know anything about Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)? Do you want to work in a substantially separate multi-handicapped or life skills room? See if you can talk to someone about classroom management strategies--think about how you would handle situations involving student behaviors. I don't know if they would ask a para about inclusion, but you should probably think a little bit about it just in case. . .

    I'm sure there's more but those are the first things that come to mind. Good luck!
     
  4. jhamm57

    jhamm57 Rookie

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    May 11, 2006

    I would consider myself extremely fortunate if I was assigned to an aide with your experience and motivation to help special needs students. I don't know how it is where you are located, but where we are, the aides only make about half the salary of a certified teacher. And there appears to be a shortage of certified special education teachers everywhere. My question to you is this.......have you considered going back to school and getting your certification? You could possibly work as an aide until you got your certification. Just a suggestion.......
     
  5. WayOutWest

    WayOutWest Rookie

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    May 16, 2006

    Thanks for the replies. Sounds like I have a good chance at a job, which is encouraging.

    BCBlue- Good info. Thanks. One question.

    What is PDD?? I really am new to this. I have some guesses, but not sure about that acronym.

    Jhamm, I actually could end up getting my certification eventually. I am kind of not sure what I want to do with my life right now, so working as a para will be a good chance to see if education might be the direction for me to go.

    I'm sending out resumes this week (yeah, I know, should have been a few weeks ago, but I was busy trying to graduate). I'll let you know how the search is going.
     
  6. jhamm57

    jhamm57 Rookie

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    May 16, 2006

    OK. good luck
     
  7. MsTeckel

    MsTeckel Comrade

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    May 16, 2006

    PDD is Pervasive Developmental Disabilities which is an umbrella term for autism, aspergers syndrome, children degeritive syndrome, rhetts syndrome and PDD-nos which is not otherwise specificed.

    Complex disorders but amazing children!

    Good luck in your career
     
  8. MsTeckel

    MsTeckel Comrade

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    May 16, 2006

    Ok I made a mistake, its acutally Pervasive Developmental Disorders..
     
  9. bcblue

    bcblue Comrade

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    May 17, 2006

    Yes. Pervasive Developmental Disorders. A good website is Family Village www.familyvillage.wisc.edu It gives information on all kinds of specific disabilities--general characteristics, support, etc--I often use it to look up when I come across a new one. No matter how many you've heard of, there always seem to be more!
     
  10. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    May 17, 2006

    Just a side note. .. you always want to refer to the "person first" and not the disability, such as the child w/ Down Syndrome, the child with Cerebral Palsy,,,, etc... just a reminder when responding to questions.
     
  11. WayOutWest

    WayOutWest Rookie

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    May 23, 2006

    Wow...I just got a call today around 10:00 from a high school. Set up an interview for 12:00 that I just completed. It seemed to go really well and from the sound of it I would really enjoy working at the school. The program seems to place a heavy emphasis on life/functional skills, including a lot of community involvement stuff.

    It was a phone interview with 5 women (i'm a guy, don't know if that is on my profile or something, but I am). For those who are looking, here are a few of the more interesting questions.

    What will you bring to our team? (Tough to answer not knowing the other team members, but I did my best)
    If you planned an outing to a restaurant to teach the kids to order meals, what would you do if one of the students didn't have enough money?
    What would you do if a regular education student was teasing one of your special education students? (He he...now here I have an advantage, seeing as I am a 6'4 male. :) )

    Those were a few that stood out.
     
  12. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    May 23, 2006

    If one of the kids didn't have enough money.. I would help them find something they could afford from the menu. Remember, these are real world situations, budgeting is part of this, that would be my answer.

    I have been known to approach people who have teased my students to see if they had any questions. This probably is not the best approach;however, people tend to shut up after that.
     
  13. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    May 23, 2006

    I would answer them the same way Miss. F did. How did you answer them?
     
  14. WayOutWest

    WayOutWest Rookie

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    May 23, 2006

    I sort of gave three answers.

    First, I said that it was important for the kid to eat, so at some point I would find food for him/her, perhaps waiting till we got back to school.

    I then said there were two possible responses to the situation that would depend on what I felt would help the student most.

    Option one would be to find some way of augmenting the childs funds, with my own money if neccesary, if I thought the value in the activity would be in completing the activity. So, if the student just needs to learn how to execute the task of buying food, I would help them.

    HOwever, if it was student that knew how to order and would benefit from learning the consequence of forgetting their money, hopefully teaching a bit about responsibility, I would have them make do with what they had brought with them.

    At least, that is what I think I said. I kind of get nervous interviewing, especially over the phone. I don't like phones. :)
     
  15. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    May 23, 2006

    I think that's a very diplomatic answer... I think you're right, it DOES depend upon the goal for that particular child.
     
  16. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    May 24, 2006

    Way
    I love your answers! I think you hit it right on.
     
  17. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    May 24, 2006

    great answers!!!
     

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