February 2, 2022
Professional development is an essential part of being an effective educational interpreter through continuous skill and knowledge-building. We want to help you advocate for professional development through your school district and follow these tips as you prepare your request.
Why don’t we ask?
Let’s face it, it’s hard to ask for money from the educational system. We may feel guilty asking, believe we are not as deserving of support compared to others, or do not want to take resources from students. Many school districts will recognize the need for specialized training for interpreters, but they will not always know how to find or secure this training. It’s helpful to know that all school districts have funding specifically for professional development. There are also funds that come to schools specifically for special education services, and some of those funds may be earmarked for professional development as well. You are asking for funds that are meant to be used for this purpose only.
Consider asking your teacher and paraeducator colleagues about how they request funds for specific professional development. It is important to note that many educators may be receiving professional development coordinated internally that focuses on their specific work. This is another reason to justify looking outside the school district for professional development opportunities that directly relate to your role that you cannot otherwise get internally.
Building your case
Making the ask requires you to support your rationale on why you should receive support for a professional development opportunity. Clearly relate the opportunity to the work you do every day in the classroom and how the outcome of the professional development will improve your work. Consider including information in a clear and concise format for your administrators:
- Logistics (date, length, coverage needed, costs/fees, etc.)
- What do you hope to learn through this professional development?
- Is the presenter an expert on the topic?
- Why is this information something you cannot access internally?
- How will this impact/benefit the student(s) you are working with?
- How will it support the student(s) IEP goals?
Reasons administrators should support your request
- Maintaining your credentials – whether it be for certification, licensure, or other state-level requirements – professional development may be mandatory for you to continue your services.
- Accessing information that will directly impact your work and improve services.
- Being willing to bring back the information and share with other colleagues and staff.
- Comparing your professional development requirements to the standards of teachers and other related staff because to reflect standards in the education field as a whole in your state.
Make your case in person if possible and stick to a script that is brief and does not overwhelm your administrator with too much information or jargon. Include details like how the opportunity is a good investment in your services and the school. Demanding and other abrasive approaches can not only become a barrier now, but could also prevent you from receiving support in the future. Come to the table prepared and be okay whether the outcome of your request is approved or denied. When a request is denied, ask for feedback and how can the district offer alternative options.
You’ve got this!