Paraprofessional Trainings for Support Staff in Special Education

life skills special education teachers teacher experience teacherspayteachers transition Oct 17, 2022

Every school year comes with a lot of excitement, overwhelm, and new support staff to train.  While we may have the best of intentions to provide hands-on training for the newest of staff, schedules may not always allow this.


Give your paraprofessionals the training they want and need!


Below is a list of 3 trainings that you could utilize to give your staff the support they need to become more comfortable in their job.  

Virginia Commonwealth University PARAPro Project (FREE)


While this course was designed specifically for paraprofessionals who work in Virginia schools, the training covers a variety of topics and is accessible for everyone (big thanks, VCU).  


Expect the training to take about 20 hours, according to the website, and participants need to register for upcoming sessions.  Check their website for upcoming sessions and to see if the training calendar would align nicely with your support staff’s current schedule.   

Google Level 1 Certification Training (FREE)


If your school uses Google Docs, Forms, Sheets, Slides, or Gmail, then this is a great training for anyone who is less than confident on the computer.  With a mix of videos, visuals, and quizzes, support staff can work through the modules at their own pace.


The training is designed to prepare learners to become Google Level 1 certified, but your staff does not need to take the certification test to benefit from the training.  


The Google Level 1 Certification Training would be great for support staff who want to take the lead in creating different materials and resources and increase their responsibility by managing platforms, like Google Classroom.  


In my experience, the time to complete the modules was much less than estimated, but I was also quite comfortable with the material.  


Paraprofessional Training Manual (Under $20)


After working with so many support staff ranging from brand new to veteran, my experience informed what a quality paraprofessional training manual really needed (and what it didn’t).


The Paraprofessional Training Manual has 14 different sections, spanning from the basics of special education through job coaching and toileting support.  


Topics covered:

  • Special education & the IEP
  • Supporting classroom teachers
  • Supporting students
  • Interacting with students
  • Collecting data
  • Communication
  • Behavior
  • Sensory needs
  • Community outings and health safety
  • Student equipment (customizable)
  • Emergency/Weather drill plans (customizable)
  • Job coaching
  • Toileting supports
  • Additional information (customizable)

The manual includes reading, followed by reflection questions, and then hypothetical scenarios.  


What makes this so valuable for both veteran and newer staff in paraprofessional roles is the 5 questions at the end of each section that encourage the staff member to reflect on their learning.  It’s a great way for you to hold them accountable to the reading while also seeing what they gleaned from the topic.


My personal favorite feature of the manual is the hypothetical situations at the end of the manual.  This is a perfect way for staff to really think through how they would handle different scenarios and it allows you, as the lead teacher, to help guide them in their thinking and problem solving so they can handle a variety of situations with confidence.  


*This resource is cost per educator, so 1 teacher could use it to training the 5 support staff who directly support their students, however multiple licenses (offered at a discount) would need to be purchased to train paraprofessionals across entire programs or buildings.  



All staff are lifelong learners, so use the aforementioned resources to make your support staff feel both knowledgeable and confident in their role! 

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