- One of the more under-rated responsibilities of school administrators is making sure that the school district’s non-instructional staff are receiving the professional development required through the state and through local school district policies, District Administration reports.
- Providing this professional development can be a challenge because of varying time schedules and because the training is often required by unfunded mandates; however, there are online programs and systems available that can provide and track needed training for non-instructional staff.
- Some school districts are going beyond what is required by providing additional training in areas that will allow these employees to expand their skills in ways that will give them more job satisfaction and allow them to contribute more to the overall school environment.
The professional development needed for non-instructional staff varies greatly based on state and local requirements and on the needs of each individual job. Most jobs require a certain level of professional development to keep up with changes in school technology and reporting systems, changes in state laws regarding that job and improvements in best practices designed to keep the school functioning as an effective unit.
However, there are additional professional development opportunities that schools can use to enhance the value of school employees and improve the safety and well-being of students. Because school staff members are often the eyes and ears of a school, they can learn the school’s behavior expectations, so that know where and how to report infractions and provide positive reinforcement when students show good behavior. They can also be trained to recognize abuse and harassment and on providing proper social-emotional support to students. This is particularly important for bus drivers and after-school providers who are the strongest daily connection between home and school.
Some schools are also using this training to enhance the role of paraprofessionals at schools and to grow their own educators from within the ranks of school staff. For instance, the Polk County School District in Florida has a Greenhouse Project designed to encourage school staff to pursue teacher education and certification.
Strong professional development for staff members can only serve to strengthen the school overall. As Duval County Public Schools in Florida states in their policy: “High quality professional development for all non-instructional personnel (NIP) is provided to close the communication gap between NIP and certificated personnel by building meaningful relationships and support in our learning community. This will help in increasing the NIP knowledge, skills, aspiration, attitudes and behaviors necessary to effectively perform in their current position.”