National Inclusive Schools Week #BetterTogether

While the week is winding down from National Inclusive Schools Week, we still could not take the opportunity pass up a chance to talk about Inclusive Schools.

On the whole, Inclusive Schools are schools that offer the opportunity for students to learn. When one focuses on just students with disabilities, this means that they are working with their peers. Inclusion tends to be interpreted widely, many schools have many different models, some more successful than others and some certainly more oriented towards inclusion than others.

But what all inclusive schools have done have provided a recognition that schools are a part of the community that students of all abilities deserve their education. And those students make friends and strengthen their communities in all the ways possible as they grow up together.

Earlier this week, we challenged some of our #BetterTogether associates about the positives we have seen and we still see from inclusive classes and schools. And there are many, many positives. Of which, paraeducators are most likely to get to see just because of the proximity to all students in a classroom.

We see students learn to appreciate their classmates for all the things they contribute to school and to each other. It is not always in the end that “we were nice because the student has a disability”, “we were nice because they were nice too.”

We hear students asking to sit at the lunch table with students to make space for their peers who have a disability. We see the students sitting on a curb on the playground giggling about something. We see the students helping eachother out.

But bigger than the students, we hear general education teachers tell every student, “I appreciate your contribution to this class.” And, “Thank you for speaking up today, I like to hear your voice.”

And it is the opportunity that we highlight, because without it, we, paraeducators, teachers, and classmates, would not know how much we all can grow and adapt, making the example that when we work and play together, we make our community #BetterTogether.


ParaEducate will sign off for 2016 on December 15, 2016 (next week!) We will return January 12, 2017. Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, peers, Special Education Teachers, Students | Leave a comment

I Believe In You II

In 2013, Megan Gross helped take this idea we had about a blog entry and helped to make it this great moment of looking at students and the things we ask them to do over and over again because we would like them to at least have a functional understanding about in the world in many different subjects. And our blog unfortunately suffered a horrendous technical meltdown that resulted in the loss of many of our favorite blogs. However, for a few of our blogs, titles and ideas remained. Which brings us to today, with Renay sitting and reflecting over the importance of believing in our students.

Originally, in 2013, we looked at the importance of “not now” and “not yet” and those for some students may be hard concepts. Especially when they see their friends doing things and they have no idea how to do those academic skills or that as a skill it may be not feasible for the student with a disability to demonstrate the academic material like their peers in the same manner, however, there may be other methods to get similar or comparable work. Most importantly, it was about a paraeducator and a student, or group of students, willingness to push forward even when those things aren’t always going to happen that year.

We still believe that students still get to keep trying. We honestly believe that if we just cram it all in there, something is going to stick and that may just be the breakthrough that student needed. And we may never know when this will happen. We have to. It is sometimes exhausting to keep up with.

We also still believe in “not now” and “not yet”. This is data driven. Maybe four weeks of trying this has not improved anything. Let’s find something else to focus on and try going back in one to two weeks.

We also have developed a better understanding of when it is all right to give up and let the student learn some boundaries. Those students who have more understanding of what they can and won’t do, maybe that won’t turns into a lesson about following through on their work.

We have a great understanding of “no, not ever.” And this part usually is not our call. And when the decision is out of our hands, it can be very frustrating. Reasons for “no, not ever” may involve religious belief, family belief in the student’s ability to do something, family ability to support student, student’s response to stress, or some other bigger reason that trumps all attempts to do academic work. A student’s health comes before academics.

School is hard. There are so many reasons to be pulled in so many different directions, and hidden rules. For some students being with their classmates is reinforcing. For others, achieving an ‘A’ is reinforcing too. Recognizing the spectrum of students and that their motivators all look different change how we approach our belief that all students can learn and that all students deserve a chance to do their very best to be a part of a larger community.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, blog, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students | Leave a comment

Thankfulness

It takes a certain type of special to be in classrooms day in and day out, helping students with disabilities navigate academics, social, and emotional paths that are not always clearly labeled.

So for this last week of November that we will post, we wanted to remind folks of our thanks that we know how hard they are working.

As we often teach our students with disabilities manners, manners between adults go quite far. It is about being a model and a role model.

We have seen paraeducators take the time to help shape more positive behaviors and know that it takes more than a day, more than a week, more than a school year. And the results have paid off.

We have seen paraeducators work tirelessly collaborating with general education teachers and get modifications to students to have academic successes and understand some complex materials.

We have seen paraeducators help change the minds of teachers who have never had students with disabilities.

And for all these things that paraeducators do and the things we have not mentioned, we are thankful. Thankful that there are paraeducators both veterans and rookies reaching out to each other and growing and helping the schools be the best possible campuses for the districts all over the country.

There is still a lot of work needed for the campuses across the country to be inclusive, but that work will continue to come together.

Before we end, we will not be posting a blog next week for the annual tradition of U.S. Thanksgiving. We hope you have time to take a moment and be thankful for family (given and accepted), health, and community.


ParaEducate will be off next week for a federal holiday in the United States. Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

 

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What would Inclusion Be Without a Paraeducator?

This week, Renay was mostly out due to illness. But it reminded us of a constant idly threat that sometimes is tossed around: what would inclusion be without a paraeducator?

Actually, sometimes inclusion is actually more possible without a paraeducator. It sounds strange, but we’ve seen situations usually just elementary and pre-school where a paraeducator isn’t really part of the strategy. But this really mostly applies to students disabilities that aren’t specific to a health or safety issue.

Other campuses use co-teaching where a general education teacher and a special education teach work together. Which is great until the special education teacher needs to help diffuse a student situation in another part of campus, a major report needs to be filled out, or there is a parent who demands to meet with you during the class time. Co-teaching works best if both teachers understand the materials. It cannot be up to the general education teacher to teach the material. Often we hear from these special education teachers that they don’t have time or expertise to devote to understanding the materials. And some co-teachers teach across multiple grade levels. So it is quite understandable that it is harder to grasp basic information, write an IEP, attend a district mandated meeting, and fulfill required hours on campus.

So why paraeducators? Most aren’t certified to be useful in any educational capacity. They are woefully under trained, under paid, under respected, and in some cases ignored by both students and general education teachers.

But imagine that your classroom didn’t have that student, or students, with disabilities. Certainly your class could be smaller by three to five students. Perhaps other students would be placed there. The dynamic of the class would certainly be different. If you were lucky, you would know the students with disabilities would be “over there” somewhere else, theoretically getting some sort of education. Whether you believed that students with disabilities could learn, and could specifically learn academic material as you presented it, wouldn’t be up to you because you weren’t that student’s teacher.

Other than missing out on meeting amazing individuals, it seems like a plausible world. Perhaps one that could work in your favor as a general education teacher. But here are a few things you’re missing out on.

Paraeducators have leverage that teachers do not. They have the freedom to look at problems (academic, social, and emotional) from other points of view. Sometimes a paraeducator needs to be that one that says, “Nope, [this student] is going to do this [assignment, group activity].” Certainly, the student isn’t going through all of the steps, but it’s about recognizing a student with a disability in a classroom is a member of the classroom community. And they see that student, or another student, perhaps without a disability, in a classroom of thirty students. A paraeducator has the ability to focus on one or two students for success, something that cannot always happen through the general education teacher.

Paraeducators have figured out the information they need to know to do their job. They need to know more than just the surface of every disability, they need to know the disability and its presentation in each student that they work with. They need CPR and First Aid first responder training. They need to understand how their natural responses in stressful situation, like when a student violently protests or throws things, changes how the student deescalates in their moment of crisis. They know more about alternative strategies not because they’ve had special training they’ve worked it out with a variety of students and aren’t afraid of asking the questions they need to understand.

And as far as variety goes, paraeducators are in all sorts of classes, art, music, science, math, English, history, and they are picking up the material along with the students. Some of the paraeducators even retain the information as well as the students do and can prepare for future students in the next year.

The opportunities that do not exist for some students without paraeducators are quite limited. How do they meet other peers in their age group? How do they make friends with folks who do not have disabilities? How do they become valued by the community that they live in? Inclusion lives within the fact that everyone belongs. Paraeducators can facilitate with that fact.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Campus, Classroom, Co-teaching, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on What would Inclusion Be Without a Paraeducator?

Politics (and a Little Bit of Religion)

The adage is “to not talk about politics and religion in the workplace”. What they forgot to say, unless you work in a school. And especially when discussing classes of History and US Government. While ParaEducate is not going to take a public political stand on any issue facing the United States unless directly related to education or the disabled community, politics isn’t something we stray into. Except for this time of year every four years.

Why politics?

Well, currently it’s a social topic. Teaching students with disabilities why it is a current social topic and how to hear other points of view is a part of the job. For students who are less socially inclined or younger, if you will pause in your personal opinions for a moment, it is historical that a woman is the nominee for a major political party. We are five days away from the votes finally being tallied. It isn’t just the job of a few, it is the job of every US citizen to vote, that there is no limit other than being eighteen years old to vote.

As an aside, there is a larger movement #CriptheVote of citizens with disabilities who are letting others with disabilities know through social media that they have the right to vote in their communities for all elections and more importantly: their vote matters just like any other vote. How much more inclusive our communities and our country would be when we see that all our eligible citizens are making their choices privately within a ballot of their own choice?

But what about talking or helping a student along with a discussion in a class?

  • If it’s about the experience, then let the student stay. The classroom teacher should be leading the political discussion with clear ground rules.
  • Your political opinion is your political opinion. Your district may have rules about campaigning. Avoid wearing specific political messages, even right after Election Day. And avoid putting your biases into helping students understand issues at hand. You do have the right to not share with the students on political matters.

But what about the rest of the adage?

Well, it’s a two year anniversary for the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion. And we would like to send them a hearty shout out for all the work they are doing for Catholic Schools and keeping track as more and more Catholic schools are opening their doors to students who could have been denied entry to these schools previously. National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion is a #BetterTogether partner and we are honored to be sharing the stage with them and three others (Sheryl Zellis, Robert Rummel-Hudson, and The Inclusive Class)  in March for our SXSWedu Summit.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, History Class, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, social skills, Students | Comments Off on Politics (and a Little Bit of Religion)

The Incomplete Story

As a title, we’ve been working on this blog post for something close to two years. We thought this was mostly an academic problem and it’s an academic and a communication problem. And nothing turned our eyes more than today.

So when we say our story started two years ago, Renay was observing paraeducators in multiple settings working with students. Now the argument that lives primarily in schools is that the learning comes from teachers and between students. The incomplete idea sometimes yields an inference of paraeducators aren’t able to lead direct instructions. But, that just isn’t the case. We know paraeducators are educated, whether a formal degree or through the time hardened methods of life experiences. We know that paraeducators understand complex academic materials as well as their teachers with whom they work. We also know that paraeducators bring a variety of useful skills and experiences that enrich the culture of a school. Did you know that a paraeducator grew up in Haiti on your campus? Did you know Haiti is endanger of a cholera epidemic because of the damage inflicted due to Hurricane Matthew? Did you know two of your staff members actually have degrees in architecture and can explain how arches work to transfer loads and are a superior design element in Ancient Rome and how architectural features of the Dome and Vault are variations of this element? Did you know that this paraeducator was a State recognized winner of an annual essay contest four three years in high school? These are just a tiny example of the skills your paraeducator brings to the classroom.

We’ve also seen the opposite happen academically, when a paraeducator diverges in a discussion of a principle of science or a question asked on a science page. Once again, unfortunately, this is behavior that leads back to the point that paraeducators aren’t teachers. But that’s the point: they’re not teachers. But this incomplete story would be solved with more time to discuss the upcoming unit nuances. If the paraeducator had an idea of all the material covered, then they would be better prepared to have leading questions and not direct students into misinformation.

Paraeducators are often victims of “throw into situation and let’s see what they do”. This is true with technology, AAC, specific disabilities. And even the training someone may directly recieve may be partial and incomplete. How new vocabulary gets introduced for someone with an AAC depends on what stage of communication they are at. How certain devices are actually used or even software students use on a regular basis in a computer class may also be subjected to this methodology. Some paraeducators just don’t learn indirectly and they know this about themselves.

But incomplete stories also exist in other places. Sometimes the incomplete story is confidential. We don’t always know which students are on parole, but we can usually guess pretty well. We also don’t always know why students have certain behaviors that aren’t a distinct mark of their disabilities, but we know and remember the warning signs of abuse and teenage depression. We know the incomplete stories that are amazing stories of resilience demonstrated by families and students with disabilities. We also know the incomplete stories that worry us late at night for students and their families who may not have as much resilience.

We know other incomplete stories due to a student’s inability to tell you the complete story of the day. And then, the question is how to get the student back on track for the class or the day so education can happen. When a student feels their problem is a “5” and it’s really about a “2”, what skills do you bring to help re-direct the student so they can feel they are heard and their issues at hand are addressed by you as an advocate for them? How do you guide a story of events that have happened to a student at school so they are able to share the events that upset the student? How do you balance a report of how a student may have behaved two hours previously with the behavior you see now?

The incomplete story, ironically, is incomplete. But it is not without solutions.

  1. Use communication methods with your teachers. Email or monthly meetings before or after academic teaching times. Get an idea of what units will cover, ask about specific technical information so you might be able to understand and explain it better to students who need more concrete details.
  2. Use specific graphic organizers or rating scales with students. Find out from the case managers how best to use them with the student. If the student is able to write or cares to, give them a safe place to do so.
  3. Know your campus and district systems for highlight students who are suspected of receiving abuse or are in need of mental health support. Recognize that mental health is important at any age and any ability level.
  4. Remember that your incomplete story is not always seen by all faculty and administrators. Join in moments like staff parties, after hours drinks, or trivia nights so faculty and administrators can get to know you and learn your expertise.

The year is just one fourth of the way complete. What will be this year’s incomplete story?


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

 

Posted in #BetterTogether, AAC, Adminstrators, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Communication, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, Mental Health, paraeducators, Students, training | Comments Off on The Incomplete Story

An Announcement and A Little Entertainment

Before we forget, it’s officially past October 19 so we can share now that ParaEducate will be at SXSWedu this March 2017, in Austin, Texas. More specifics are coming soon, but know that ParaEducate will be presenting with Nicole Eredics (The Inclusive Class), Sheryl Zellis (an OT, a professor, and parent of a child with a disability), Beth Foraker (National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion and a parent of a child with a disability), and Robert Tummel-Hudson (a professor and a parent of a child with a disability). This will truly be a #BetterTogether Experience as we will meet up with Torrie Dunlap of Kids Included Together. We are very excited to be heading to this new venue and very excited for the first time for all of us to be in one place together.


This week we have been looking at strategies to get paraeducators comfortable with being in a general education classroom. And then we got distracted by the new TV show, “Speechless”.

I will have to say, that there were a lot of expectations riding on this TV show. And then they have delivered so far.

The story was originally promoted as a family comedy show where the family has a child with a disability. And for the most part it has been a typical 30 minute comedy show centered around a family. But what has drawn ParaEducate to this show is the open honest relationship that the family (DiMeos) are having with their quest for a ‘voice’ for their son JJ who uses an AAC. And for us, that first day is very important.

An example is this YouTube clip here between JJ, the young man who needs support due to his extensive disability, and Kenneth, his recently hired aid who has a lot to learn and yet, no one is really guiding him. And Kenneth is making it all up as he goes a long. Like so many of our paraeducators.

“Speechless” is on ABC, check your local listings. ParaEducate recieved no compensation or has any connection with ABC or “Speechless”.

For all the paraeducators though, here are some tips:

  • Look for routines. Know what pattern your teachers have.
  • Look at the entire unit your teacher is presenting, even if you haven’t had it completely presented. Referring to the text book (even if they aren’t using the text book, in California a text book must be available for every student!) Just to get an idea of the material being presented.
  • Ask the teacher when you’re uncertain.
  • Share materials with your other co-workers. Use collaboration time or other meeting times to talk about specific academic strategies to understand complex topics
  • Take community college courses in science, history or math. These courses may help you get a degree or another degree if you so desire while you understand complex ideas that are discussed briefly with students in their courses.

But why should you know the information? Because knowing the information helps with your ability to break down information or even help a student understand their role in a project based learning or the eventual outcomes. It’s not about the answers it’s about understanding material well enough to impart the necessary information.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, AAC, Campus, Classroom, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on An Announcement and A Little Entertainment

Another 8 Hours

A few years ago, we followed Casey and her schedule and looked at what a paraeducator might encounter. Today, we have “Todd’s” Schedule.

Todd is a paraeducator who has worked for five years at the middle school and the high school level, a full academic day is eight hours with a half hour of lunch. Though the students start the day at 8:30, Todd’s contract starts at 8:00. In the room shared by case managers, other paraeducators are already swapping notes and preparing for the day. It’s a ‘normal’ schedule, so today it’s just expecting that students show up.

Todd is one of two men on staff for students who are on the case manager’s list so, with a case load of students who are primarily male, locker room support is his primary duty.

At 8:30, his first student appears, a male student with a health concern requiring constant supervision. The student has PE first, but is also assigned another staff member. Todd will only supervise the student in the locker room and then return at the end of the period to once again supervise the locker room changing. The majority of the class time is shadowing a student who has a teaching assistant job in the library. Here, the student is learning how to file books and help the librarians prepare for classes that may come into the classroom.

At 9:15, is nutrition break. But Todd doesn’t get a break yet. He meets up with a student who is working on following a set schedule. The student greets Todd and needs help with his juice pack he has every day for snack. The students on break linger outside the classroom. Todd supervises these students while a co-worker goes inside to discuss the day’s events with the general ed teacher to prepare for his student and the others in this class to participate. The bell rings, and the student isn’t finished with his juice. Todd stays outside while three other students with disabilities goes into the classroom.

After this class, Todd has met up with nearly one hundred students and provided support for six students.

The next class is a science class, there are four students in this class that he is familiar with, and an additional eight from other parts of special education. Including the teacher: there are five adults in the room for thirty students.

Todd now has to make it back to PE to help supervise some male students in the locker room. The students need support in PE as well and Todd spends his last class before lunch supporting these students.

After lunch, Todd has another science class with two students. One student needs constant redirection to access sensory breaks.

Todd meets up with a student in another room for the sixth class of the day, it is a self-contained math class with one student, but they share the room with another student doing math and two students doing reading intervention. While his student is on a different math program, he is able to take notes so the student’s family knows what their student is doing in math throughout the day.

Todd will then take this student and support him in PE that afternoon. Todd will then escort the student to his pick-up person at the end of the day.

Todd has made contact with 220 students, 18 of whom he has a direct responsibility for.

Paraeducators are amazing folks, it’s a long day for everyone.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, paraeducators, Students | Comments Off on Another 8 Hours

#Kindness

It’s National Anti-Bullying Month. According to PACER, this month’s Brooks Publishing Calendar feature, if you don’t have a calendar, you can get your own to print here!

There are many issues that come with making schools emotionally safer for all students. What we do know, students with disabilities are more likely to be victims of bullying, with a focus on students whose disabilities aren’t evident, and staff need to be better prepared to navigate students through social issues. Paraeducators are literally extra eyes trained to actively observe, even informally, social interactions that all students have.

So, some of the ways to encourage a better environment are the programs of #kindness to trend every year through October as a part of awareness through social media.

So what is kindness? Adults have the fuzzy expectation that kindness is just there, and many students honestly exhibit kindness, but many other students might only have superficial connections to kindness for a lot of reasons that are beyond school days’ worth of control. Then there are the students who have been kind initially and now a week later are choosing to just walk past instead of acknowledging their classmate’s existence due to the fact that any kindness has the student hoping for true friendship.

Very simply, Kindness is anything you wouldn’t mind done to you in your presence or behind your back. It’s a smile. It’s a wave. It’s asking how your day was. It’s the reassuring nod when you’ve kept talking for what feels like hours. It’s developing the working rapport to know that the adult is always going to be there. Kindness is the reassurance to go out on a limb to keep trying.

Kindness alone doesn’t prevent bullying. But it makes a place where bullying is less likely to thrive because everyone is seeing the positive benefits of growing together.

Before we leave, we have a video developed by ABC about #ChooseKindness

If your campus participates, try some #kindess on social media. It’s probably what everyone just wanted for their day.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #kindness, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, National Anti-Bullying Month, paraeducators, Students | Comments Off on #Kindness

When does the training start?

For that new paraeducator, one might wonder when formal training begins. Especially since you were hired and then assigned a campus and then assigned a student or group of students and you’re really wondering what you’re doing. The good news: unless you’re curled up in a corner crying every day, you’re doing just fine.

But that is the problem: for students, and especially students with disabilities, “fine” may not be enough. You’re covering the basics, if they’re able to at least to eat something during the day and feel safe at school, everything else should be easy right?

Some districts have annual training. Some districts tell you they have “trainings” but these are really employee orientations. Other districts believe in shouting some key hints at employees as they are hurried down the hall.

So what things should you really know about? What resources are still out there? How do I get better?

Things you should know about:

Confidentiality is the backbone of the entire process. The entire class may know a certain student has a specific disability, but don’t shout you need to take a student to a restroom. Or students who are more autonomous are most often very sensitive to their deficits and try to compensate with other behaviors. Details of a student’s day unless it involved an injury do not need to be detailed at the end of the day at drop off.

Ask questions of the veterans. You might not always see them, but when you get a chance, stop them in the hall if you have a question. They might be able to direct you in the right direction

Communicate anything that seems odd to the case manager, hopefully the case manager has had a history with the student already and can give you some important pointers.

It’s just school. That moment when the student was overwhelmed, no matter what, that matters more than any academics. Even in high school, approaching a diploma, it’s just school. This one moment, this one assignment isn’t going to cause anyone to have lasting repercussions.

A rapport with a student is a good thing to have, but one can only be truly established when you know the limits of being the adult – especially a school adult—in the student’s life. Professionalism is a key in the relationship. You aren’t their friend. You are responsible for their well-being and their academic progress in the eight hours in a day.

Celebrate the good moments. Sometimes the good moments feel further away than necessary, but realizing that there are good moments makes the long days easier to manage.


Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, Begining of the Year, Campus, Disabilities, Guardians, paraeducators, parents, Students | Comments Off on When does the training start?