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In Boston, ‘Tech Goes Home’ for Boston Paraprofessionals

The Boston Teachers Union has long recognized that the union’s responsibilities go beyond the “bread and butter” issues of salary and benefits. Supporting union members means being engaged in all parts of educators’ lives, from political activity in the community to professional expertise in the classroom. As a result, the BTU has a robust, high-quality professional learning program for its members.

One recent addition to this professional development program is a course called ‘Tech Goes Home,’ which was offered to BTU paraprofessionals this past school year.

In the BTU-funded program, paraprofessionals complete a 15-hour course on how technology is used in the classroom. At the end of the course, the paraprofessionals can receive a Chromebook computer for their own, for a cost of just $50. The program helps paraprofessionals move into the 21st century so they can better assist their students with technology, and stay informed about school activities as more schools go green and replace paper fliers with email.

“Many paraprofessionals stated that they loved this course because it is taught by fellow​​ paras who really understand what their needs are in the classroom,” said Colleen Hart, the BTU’s paraprofessional field rep. “This program engages our members by giving them the knowledge they can use every day to become even better educators.”

The BTU plans to train more paraprofessionals to be able to teach the course again this school year, and has a wait list of paraprofessionals hoping to take the course. The union plans to use a provision in its collective bargaining agreement to continue and expand the program in the years to come.

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