Paraeducator & Explorer Program

Are you interested in becoming a teacher but aren’t sure if it’s right for you? The Paraeducator and Explorer Program (PEP) is designed to give current paraeducators and individuals exploring the teaching profession a glimpse into the ESD-U teacher certificate program while earning clock hours toward the General or Advanced Paraeducator Certificate requirements.

Find out if teaching is right for you!

Participants in PEP attend ESD-U seminars on important topics for educators, alongside ESD-U teacher candidates working towards certification. When PEP is successfully completed, participants may choose to apply for the ESD-U teacher certification program and, if enrolled in ESD-U within three years, the seminar clock hours for PEP will count towards ESD-U seminar requirements.

Virtual seminars allow you to participate from anywhere!

Seminars are delivered virtually on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00am – 4:00pm. The virtual seminars are live with an instructor present through the entire seminar. All seminars are led with best practices for remote learning in mind, and include a variety of ways to participate and engage with the seminar content and provide opportunities to collaborate and connect with other PEP participants and ESD-U teacher candidates.

How to Apply to PEP

PEP applications are due June 30, 2024!

To apply for PEP, individuals must complete one of the online applications below, and should select the appropriate application based on whether they have completed a bachelor’s degree. Program staff will follow-up within 1-2 weeks after the application deadline regarding application status, how to register for seminars, and next steps for participation.

2024-2025 Seminar Schedule & Descriptions

Click on a course below to see course dates and description.

Creating an Inclusive Classroom

Sat., Aug. 24 • 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. • 3 clock hours

Participants will develop an understanding of diffusion of innovation and systems change. Participants will consider the stages of implementation science and where their school/district teams are in implementing inclusive practices. Identifying system drivers will help participants understand how they, as educational leaders, can champion change in meaningful ways.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Part 1 (CORE/REQUIRED)

Sat., Sept. 28 • 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. • 3 clock hours

This seminar will help participants be more reflective of the ways that their identities shape their perspectives as they interact with and perceive their students and school systems. Participants will reflect on the ways that schooling can be an unwelcoming space for students who have been marginalized due to their race, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. The seminar will encourage participants to reflect on their privileges and biases and to challenge the assumptions that they may have about marginalized students. Finally, participants will create an action plan where they are critically analyzing the ways that their classroom behaviors, instruction, and curriculum can be transformed to create a more inclusive space for students who hold different identities.

Social Emotional Learning for the Inclusive Classroom

Sat., Sept. 28 • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. • 3 clock hours

Participants will understand the promise of effective social emotional learning (SEL) practices. Participants will learn about the importance of teacher agency, as it relates to SEL instruction. Understanding the roadblocks in SEL will help candidates understand how they can proactively plan to overcome barriers and support other educators with change at the building level. This seminar will provide candidates with an understanding of these concepts, and opportunities to collaborate with each other.

Classroom Management (CORE/REQUIRED)

Sat., Oct. 26 • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. • 6 clock hours

This seminar explores why good classroom management can be challenging and will focus on basic behavior principles and positive behavior interventions. Participants will learn classroom management strategies and techniques, including the CHAMPS model of positive behavior supports from Safe and Civil Schools as well as the STOIC framework and how it applies to classroom and behavior management. Participants will develop their own classroom management plan.

Since Time Immemorial

Sat., Nov. 23 • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. • 6 clock hours

This seminar will explore the history and experiences of indigenous people groups, as well as the realities that continue to shape the lives of indigenous people. Candidates will also be exposed to the Since Time Immemorial curriculum and instructional materials to enable them to promote learning and understanding of systemic issues impacting indigenous people in their own classrooms.

Intro to Working with Students with Disabilities

Sat., Dec. 14 • 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. • 3 clock hours

This seminar will focus on the fundamental knowledge and skills required for all educators to recognize and support students with disabilities and other learning challenges. Focus will be on understanding the impact disabilities have on student learning and the ways special education professionals provide support and developmental encouragement. The seminar will explore specially designed instruction in general education settings, as well as supports, instructional approaches, collaboration with other professionals, and processes related to classification and documentation for supportive education.

Intro to Working with ELL Students

Sat., Dec. 14 • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. • 3 clock hours

This seminar will provide an overview of the fundamental knowledge and skills required for all educators to recognize and support students who are learning English. A key focus will be understanding the challenges faced by students who are learning English and identifying instructional strategies to support English language development and content mastery. The seminar will describe many ways ELL professionals provide support and developmental encouragement for language learners, as well as strategies for educators in other specializations to work with ELL colleagues to support and encourage students.

Behavior Management

Sat., Jan. 25 • 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. • 6 clock hours

This seminar will focus on the current learning and challenges in behavior management, including the impact of trauma on student behavior. Focus will be on the basic functions and strategies of behavior management as well as the escalation and de-escalation crisis cycle. Participants will learn the functions of behavior, as well as strategies and techniques for working with students exhibiting challenging behaviors.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Part 2 (CORE/REQUIRED)

Sat., April. 26 • 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. • 3 clock hours

This seminar is a continuation of the Culturally Responsive Teaching Part 1 seminar. This seminar will help participants be more reflective of the ways that their identities shape their perspectives as they interact with and perceive their students and school systems. Participants will reflect on the ways that schooling can be an unwelcoming space for students who have been marginalized due to their race, gender, class, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. The seminar will encourage participants to reflect on their privileges and biases and to challenge the assumptions that they may have about marginalized students. Finally, participants will create an action plan where they are critically analyzing the ways that their classroom behaviors, instruction, and curriculum can be transformed to create a more inclusive space for students who hold different identities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Paraeducator & Explorer Program (PEP)

How much does it cost?

Participation in PEP costs $300, which is a discounted block price for the full sequence of five seminars (up to 18 clock hours). The cost includes the three “core” seminars and the participant-chosen two additional seminars according to their interest area.

Participants are welcome to attend additional PEP seminars at the standard cost of $25/per clock hour.

  • $75 = Cost of adding a half-day seminar (3 clock hours)
  • $150 = Cost of adding a full day seminar (6 clock hours)
What can I do with my clock hours?

PEP seminar clock hours can also be used toward:

  • ESD-U teacher certification program seminar requirements, if enrolled within 3 years
  • The General or Advanced Paraeducator Certificate requirements
  • Salary advancement on district educator pay scales
  • Transfer credit to other teacher certification programs, with every 10 clock hours equal to 1 quarter hour of college credit, or 15 clock hours to 1 semester hour of college credit (note that college credit is granted at the discretion of the receiving institution)
What does program participation look like?

PEP participants are expected to:

  1. Attend at least five (5) seminars in their entirety, for a total of 15-18 clock hours and must include:
  2. Engage in activities and discussions during each seminar
  3. Write and submit a reflective paper at the end of each seminar

PEP participants who successfully complete the full sequence of seminars and reflections will be granted a waiver for the seminars they attended, if they enroll in the ESD-U teacher certification program within three years.

Sign up for an Info Session

Sign up for one of our informational sessions to learn more about ESD-U PEP and the application process. PEP applications are due June 30, 2024!

Paraeducator & Explorer Program