California Paraeducator Conference
Paraeducators – Inspire, Motivate, Engage
More than 700 paraeducators from around the state flocked to the 17th Annual Paraeducator Conference April 2-4, 2014 to learn a variety of new skills and information, including in-depth training on the Common Core State Standards.
The extensive workshops on the newly instituted standards drew many to the conference for the first time—more than half were first-time attendees. Lily Golding, a 22-year paraeducator with Belmont Chapter 308, said the training on Common Core attracted her to the popular conference.
“Teachers are getting a lot of training on Common Core, but paraeducators haven’t gotten any. So, I wanted to come and learn more about it and how it affects education,” Golding said. “CSEA sees the importance of what paraeducators do and that’s nice to know.”
Association President Michael Bilbrey said the Para Conference is another example of the top-notch training opportunities offered by CSEA.
“We are so proud to be able to hold this conference for you,” Bilbrey told attendees. “I know you have learned a great deal and I challenge you to inspire, to engage and to lead the students that you work with every day.”
Common Core Standards
The buzz among the attendees was an eagerness to learn more about the Common Core State Standards, a set of new criteria designed to help students develop deeper levels of understanding, make connections between content areas, ideas and learning, and become college, career and community ready. As she explained during a meaty general session presentation, Education Specialist Jodie Dittmar from the California Department of Education said that paraeducators play vital roles in creating Common Core success—from providing behavioral support to progress monitoring and assessment data.
Dittmar said the key is to be proactive instead of reactive in working with students. Laurie Sweezey, Scott Valley Chapter 859 president, said she came to this year’s conference for the first time in many years in order to learn more about Common Core and its implications on paraeducators. She said her school district sent her to the Para Conference to bring as much information back as possible.
“I’ve been pushing in our district to get more Common Core training,” Sweezey said. “We’re going to go back to our district and train our paraeducators based on what we’ve learned here.”
Yvonne Arzate, a paraeducator from Moreno Valley Unified Chapter 410, was also eager to see the focus on the Common Core State Standards.
“I’m excited to see how we can make students more interested in learning and help them make connections,” Arzate said.
In addition to the extensive general session on Common Core, there were a number of smaller workshops focusing on some of the many items related to the implementation of the new standards. The workshops, which included vocabulary development strategies to meet Common Core standards, practical application of student engagement strategies, and using tools and technology to help students meet standards, were all extremely popular with conference participants.
“It’s such a great opportunity,” Sweezey said. “CSEA puts on such great trainings and conferences. Never be afraid to ask your district to send you.”
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited the conference to welcome attendees and thank them for the invaluable contributions they make to California’s students.
“Your skills and dedication make you a part of a dream team. I’ve never been part of a better team than the educational team in the State of California. And the classified make it happen,” Torlakson said. “You have an enormous responsibility. We all do. Thank you for believing in our students.”
Paraeducator Conference Committee Chair Martha Penry was pleased with the event, saying that it was great to see so many of her fellow paraeducators engaged and eager to take their knowledge back to their districts to share.
“From providing the best training and tools that paraeducators need in the classroom to allowing opportunities for us to share tips and techniques with our peers, the Para Conference is packed full of information,” Penry said. “And the attendees return to their districts and share what they’ve learned with their colleagues, further expanding the impact of this great event.”
2015 California Paraeducator Conference
The 18th Annual California Paraeducator Conference will be held April 14-16, 2015 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. Registration details will be posted soon.
For more information about the Paraeducator Conference, contact Leslie Snow at firstname.lastname@example.org