What To Do vs. How To Do It

We were going to leave last week’s post in the dust and move on, but then Renay had a week talking about sub[statute] binders.

We talked about sub binders in our book in detail but we also talk about it on the road when we talk about the organization that special educators need.

However, this week, Renay was working with one team and the staff was busy putting together this list of their week on a table. While Renay is an advocate for a table to sort information, the amount of information every person was trying to cram into the table was starting to get a little crazy. Then Renay asked the team, “Are you describing what you personally do in your job or are you telling someone how to do your job?” The staff all stopped. The tables looked busy. No one could get enough information in, even the ones who typed.

In the sub binder the absolute, non-negotiable:

  • Hourly schedule of where to be, who to expect, breaks
  • A map of the campus
  • The campus emergency protocols
  • What to do when you’re where

It would be nice to know exactly how to be you, but that fact negates your uniqueness and relationship with the students and other staff. It would also be really great to have this information all on one page, but the little notes about how to best work in a room with staff, tricks to get students to follow instructions when they know someone else is new doesn’t fit on one page. But be direct, brief, and positive for your replacement if you’re at a district that has substitutes.

It would also be really great to have this information all on one page, but the little notes about how to best work in a room with staff, tricks to get students to follow instructions when they know someone else is new doesn’t fit on one page.

ParaEducate

While We Are Talking About Subs

Substitutes: you are about to perhaps take on a temporary job that might end up being your honest job interview. We know that this job was probably not what you wanted. This job is also probably the most dynamic of all the things you have done to date. Try your best. We know your understanding of what one person does day in and day out is complicated by just the nuances of what will happen in the day. Yes, we were serious about the interventions to behaviors. We are sorry you had to anticipate the readings in a subject that is your least favorite. Thank you for covering for us. We hope to be back soon.

One more thing…

We were contacted by a state today that we haven’t visited before. But as for the state by state resources in the United States for paraeducators, it’s a little empty out there. Due to the nature of education being mostly the domain of the states, each state handles paraeducators, paraprofessionals, instructional aides, or that extra adult in a classroom a little differently. Even within a state, the job title and expectations are very different.

We will have a list of general resources, but we have been working on a state by state resource for a while. Give us a little while. We’ll talk about this soon.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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 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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Juggling Backwards

A friend of Renay’s posted a song about partner dancing. This reminded her of the old question about dancing– who was better Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire. To which the answer is generally subjective, but then the most ardent arguers will point out that ‘Ginger Rogers had to do it [dancing] backward in heels.’

We not saying that all paraeducators across the country are female either. While a great percentage tend to be female, many are male and they provide a much-needed role model in education for many students.

The Mind of a ParaEducator

The mind of a veteran paraeducator is cluttered. Not to discount the mind of a newly hired paraeducator—it’s cluttered as well. But there are different types of clutter.

Both have to remember:

  • Schedules and all the variations
  • Not just their schedule of where, who, and activity, but the schedule of whoever may be working next with a given student
  • The schedule of the bells for the grade for the day
  • The assembly schedule that shifts everything over by twelve minutes
  • The schedule of rotation for the classroom activities
  • The route to the nearest bathroom
  • The number of total minutes breaks were skipped
  • Known strategies to calm down a student
  • The phone number for the office
  • The procedures in case of student health need
  • The homework for all the classes
  • How to work the copy machines
  • Where the paper for the copy machines is kept
  • How to get graph paper when they need it
  • The fact that a student with a disability is probably the most observed person in the room and that their behavior shouldn’t be any better than their peers
  • The student ID number of the students supported for the cafeteria
  • Speaking of the cafeteria, the dietary restrictions of students for health or religious reasons
  • The thirty-eight side notes another person has passed on
  • The fact that a student has a loose tooth
  • The fact that another student has lost their tooth and is tucked in the backpack
  • A student typed a full sentence unsupported early this morning
  • That their shin hurt from where the soccer ball was caught
  • The sound a volleyball makes when bouncing off a person’s head (especially when that head is your head)
  • That the end of the school day is a wonderful moment
  • All the IEP due dates that are coming in the next few weeks
  • Who doesn’t like chocolate on staff and who is allergic to nuts
  • Where to find that modification made four years ago
  • Why a student doesn’t wear their glasses and which student broke their glasses today
  • Where the new tubes of toothpaste are for the students who have braces
  • And most importantly: when Friday is

And you want to know something: this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the things.

But a paraeducator also has to remember:

  • How to get help if they don’t know what to do both in their professional and personal lives
  • Which entrance to the office has space where they can take a moment
  • Where the best place to relax on campus is on your lunch
  • Who the best person is to help when you’re feeling stressed

And you want to know something: this doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the things.

ParaEducate

The year is most definitely started. We hope you take the time to remember that you do know a million little things and that all the cogs don’t have to stay working to make progress. Take care of yourself. Then take care of the job at hand.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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 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 #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | 1 Comment

Trailing Off Some Quick Thoughts

Interrupted…

We just have to say a really nice interaction with a local police department. Renay’s car was subjected to theft last week and while ultimately: she knows she’s never going to get her gear back, the officers that responded to take the report were professional and we appreciate their efforts.

But not out…

Renay was observing a new inclusive placement for three students who were not previously included. While the placement is still out, she is currently working with the case manager and the general education teacher for a modified curriculum for these three students.

Of highlight: she was struck by how much more serious two of the students take this subject matter. In the follow-up class, a support class, the students enjoy having the textbook to refer to. While previously, students had references, the act of transferring the material for the students is new and currently driving their desire to attempt the material. Arguably, the third student is still so stunned to be with peers, we aren’t really certain that the student understands that less will be expected of them than their peers, but they need to attend a class anyway.

Didn’t you get the memo…

The beginning of the year has nearly pulled a rug out from all of us. Between Renay’s new commuting schedule and the fact that demands feel very different this year, we think we might have even skipped last week’s blog posting.

We will post on Thursdays. We just cannot promise regular intervals of postings.

Moments that last in the heart…

We are also going to take time for a little personal story. Two of Renay’s godsons started Kindergarten this year, within weeks of each other. The joy of doing something each boy viewed as ‘grown-up’ was written on their faces in the early morning drop off photos. And then the afternoon photos of one of the boys in his car seat heading home slumped over catching a nap.

But this reminds of us of all our students. Those with and without disabilities. It’s not just Kindergarten. It’s not just those milestones. That first day, even when the student knows routine could possibly be waiting for them, that first day has sounds, sights, things that make their minds process that cannot possibly all be accounted for. That student that decided they weren’t going to walk anywhere else today sat down on the ground and refused to budge for any reward. That student that ran out of the classroom right before snack just really needed to get up and move. That student who is already pushing behavior buttons, may not understand that the adults around them care.

The hurdles of switching tasks can be difficult for many students. Use visual schedules. Prompt visually. Avoid overwhelming students with spoken instructions. Wait for the general education teacher to cue from, you share the student’s progress.

Especially those first-week reminders…

Be direct about choices for a student. A student you’re more familiar with might joke that they won’t do the work, and it might be something that sets you off. How about responding, “Sure you cannot do the work and you can get the grade you earned for that work.” The student you don’t know is stuck on missing a comfort item at the wrong time of the day? “I can see you really need that item right now, but right now we have two choices of how to move on without the item. I can tell from your tone and your body language that you really need that item so we can see what we can do about it later.”

Take that deep breath. Close your eyes for a moment and listen to the bell. Watch the flag on the quad flutter in the breeze. Support one another as professionals. The school year has just begun.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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 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, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Begining of the Year, Behavior Strategies, blog, Campus, Co-teaching, Disabilities, General Education Students, Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students | Comments Off on Trailing Off Some Quick Thoughts

Opening the 2019-2020 Academic Year

Returning From Summer

We are honored to be back. But we need to let our regular readers know that ParaEducate is undergoing some structural changes. We are going to post on Thursdays we know, but after the Beginning of the Year check-ins, we’re likely to cut back on our weekly posts. Part of the reason: the team has different demands, and the other part, because of the summer we’ve had this year, we are publishing our new book later than usual so we would like the time to complete and make the book finalized. We thank our followers for understanding while we make these temporary changes.

Speaking of Returning…

We’re back! We know many districts have already started their academic formal year. We publish the blog during the regular academic school year on Thursdays in North America.

Passion (for education)

The word “passion” has come up a lot lately in some conversations. Success comes through passion—love for the process of education. Without passion, life simply is. And Renay can count the number of teachers she feels are successful because of their passion for teaching.

But paraeducators are often not passionate people. They fall into the education world sometimes on purpose but a handful fall into education by accident. And it is passion that may keep them there.

Passion is different for every professional. Sometimes it’s honest caring and kindness for students and other times passion is a lot harder to discern.

Passion is nebulous to some educators. But it has clear boundaries. Passion is more about acceptance of the tasks at hand and not the fear of drudgery, though drudgery is expected from time to time. It’s an adult making progress in smaller increments with students that may not be expected. Passion very simply is knowing that your job is to give and give a little bit more, even when it isn’t asked of you.

We will say that many educators give a lot, and then give that much more. And we know it can lead to burn out. But if you have passion, you know that your reason for being there is always going to keep you returning.

New Year, New Start

While we have you here, we would like to remind folks to make it clear to students, especially students with behaviors that often net the student a visit to disciplinary channels that every year is an entirely new start for that student. We do know that behaviors follow patterns, but privately talking to the student before they even set foot that every day they have many choices to make that we hope that student makes the choices that help keep the student in the class, engaged with their peers, and making academic progress as well as social progress.

We Get A Lot of Push Back Sometimes

It isn’t just behaviors, we also connect with maybe a student can try and read a very short paragraph aloud in class. Even with general education teacher support. This usually makes some of our students unhappy, being held accountable in class. But it is also a moment to give the student a chance to realize that they have learned something over the days they’ve been in class.

As an educator working with a student with a disability, it is all too easy to walk in that first day and look at those early assignments and state right away, “[The student] is not doing [the assignment].” Try a little bit, even if you’re sitting right there with the student. Back away when they manage to put their name on the paper. See if peer cues get the student’s attention. Give the student some space.

  • Yes, even if they run away.
  • Yes, even if they have a health concern.
  • Yes, even if you still don’t know a lot about them.

We said space. Not leave the student and go to a whole other job. And while they have space, you should be observing, waiting to see where frustration starts to peek, what skills the student relies upon to try and attempt the more difficult process. Space also is the time to think when they need to process. And yes, the students will make mistakes.

Let the 2019-2020 academic year be the year of space and mistakes, and new starts. If you’re a new paraeducator, welcome. If you’re a veteran, welcome. We are a resource for all.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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 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, Behavior Strategies, blog, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, peers, Students | Comments Off on Opening the 2019-2020 Academic Year

Not the Summer We Had Planned

We want to say first of all, it was not a bad summer on our part. It was just the type of summer that got away from us.

We are in progress to publish. We suspect that we will announce the next book in the Fall, but we shall see. What happened? We opened the manuscript we’ve been cultivating for two years and then scrapped every single page except the dedication page. This means that all the illustrations got shifted, and some are under revision to work with the artwork we originally started. On the plus side, we had originally anticipated this new book would be over 400 pages; the revision brought the book down to fewer than 200 pages.

It’s been almost seven years since we’ve gone to a summer conference, but we got the chance to go to Lawrence, Kansas, for KU SOARS. KU SOARS is a summer session driven mostly to the Masters of Education students but parents, self-advocates, and others all participate in the three days of  break outs, cooperative learning, and help new educators walk away with a plan to approach educating all learners. We were quite honored to be at KU SOARS and can’t wait to hear how those educators are doing in the near future.

We were quite honored to be at KU SOARS and can’t wait to hear how those educators are doing in the near future.

ParaEducate

Renay also has the privilege of working with a Social Emotional Learning program this summer. This is not an easy summer program to help kids who struggle already connect with some

We return with regular blogs on August 15. We are working out some details, but we may change from a weekly blog. We still want to connect with new ideas for the new academic year, but due to pushing our publishing later this year, we will really need to look at what we will need to say in the upcoming weeks.

Have you seen our other resources?

Renay is our connection through www.inclusionfromsquareone.com . If you’ve not seen it, take some time. This July, we connected with a few self-advocates. Inclusion From Square One will run another month in the near future.

We know the days of summer are precious, but now Back to School Sales are around the corner.

We are taking part in the TPT sale, use the code, BTS19 for up to 20% off all products August 6th and 7th all day.

We thank you for your support. We look forward to connecting with you all for the 2019-2020 academic school year. See you August 15!


ParaEducate, the blog, is returning for the 2019-2020 academic school year. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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 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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Counting Stars

We know some districts are now officially done for the school year. Renay says she envies you just a bit.

There is a sense of relief with the end of the academic school year, as things aren’t winding down, they are just entirely over that the world stops and if you exhale for just a moment you will survive just by that simple first puff of air.

The world kept turning but now it’s time to look at what we really need to say at the end of the year.

We thank the Professionals

For all the ones who stepped up to do additional supervision, the value added moment of connect to students, and the ones who help other professionals on campus out to address behaviors with a specific student, for those who answered the hardest questions, for those who said the hard words, for those who listened, who helped guide new employees into understanding students, and to those who did the thankless jobs that never got recognized.

The job is hard, but we do it together because it builds a community worth coming back to every day. It models better strategies for all students that co-workers collaborate in many different ways daily.

… to those who did the thankless jobs that never got recognized

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We thank the Students

For the ones who had to tell yet another person what their disability really was, beyond what was black and white on a piece of paper, for those that showed us the meaning of one person with a specific disability (or combination of disabilities). We are also thankful to the students without disabilities. You showed your peer patience and truth whenever you interacted. Some of you also demonstrated the process of friendship but most of you did not want to start on this journey at the beginning of the year but you slowly learned and found a way to understand. We also thank the students that made us laugh…Renay was recently asked by a student if she was really “Batman”.

We thank our followers on Social Media

There are hundreds of options to read on the internet when it comes to special education. And we cover a range of information on a weekly basis during the academic school year. And time and time again, our followers share our posts, celebrate with us and let us know when we need to reconsider our point of view.

The thing we need to say

ParaEducate will sign off tonight from the weekly blog until August 15, 2019. We will have one unannounced blog mid summer sometime talking about summer activities we have planned.

Thank you all for a wonderful school year.


ParaEducate, the blog, is done for the 2018-2019 academic school year. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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, #TeamInclusion, Advocate, APE, AT, Behavorist, blog, Campus, Classroom, Commonality, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, Mental Health, Nurse, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, PT, SLP, Special Education Teachers, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on Counting Stars

Thoughts on Modalities of Learning

Renay had to renew her CPR/AED/First Aid this week. The last thing anyone wants to do before the end of the year is connect with the fundamentals of human health in a crisis, but in three hours after putting in a full day, Renay was certified.

But why would we tell you about this?

Renay has known for some time that her preferred modality to learning is reading and then taking a quick quiz perhaps the next day. The quiz could be short answer or even multiple choices, but the constant reminder to file away information and organize the information is actually a specialty that Renay possesses. This is how the entire company centers around Renay’s access and retrieval of information. However, this is not how any CPR/AED/First Aid class should be taught. There are discussions, there are hands on, and sometimes, there may be a test and sometimes that test is physical and sometimes that test is written on paper.

When trying to generalize the best way to share information to the masses, not everyone understands material in the same manner. And this is the thought sometimes sticks adults hoping to help students with disabilities.

Modalities, or the methods in which students learn, are usually discussed ad nauseam by some educators. The modalities, in no particular order are:

  • Visual: commonly associated with reading, pictures/graphics
  • Auditory: listening and conversational
  • Kinesthetic: “learn by doing”

And these dovetail into the nine types of Intelligence (again in no order in particular)

  • Intra-personal
  • Spatial
  • Naturalist
  • Musical
  • Logical
  • Existential
  • Interpersonal
  • Bodily-kinesthetic
  • Linguistic

But what does this all have to do with students with disabilities?

How students get information and contribute to their learning is impacted by their disability.

We have known students who have an amazing sense of musical intelligence and none of the intra-personal skills.

We have known students who never looked at a single word, absorbing all sorts of content from lectures.

We often hear that students, with and without disabilities, need to be “doing” more often. That doing is what students value. But again, we also know that this is different for every student.

But we also find that students sometimes believe that only one method is the best for them. While we also may concede this is true for many students, this is not necessarily a useful tool in their box.

We use items like visual schedules or a check sheet to help students with their day because there is a lot of sensory information (sound, lights, textures, smells, and more). Giving a student something that can help mitigate all the mental mess that happens when all the demands come together.

We give verbal directions to students, even when they need instructions on the board, because sometimes you still have to ask a security guard in a building what floor a certain office may be on and how to get there.

We provide students with tools and have them report back to us about the potential use or the information that will result in the best methods for using that specific tool, be it a simple tool like a hammer, a ruler, or a pen in order to relate to more complex tools like cars or 3d printers.

We give verbal directions to students, even when they need instructions on the board, because sometimes you still have to ask a security guard in a building what floor a certain office may be on and how to get there.

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We develop a model, a diagram, or find a picture to best describe the emotion, the movement, the imagery built from a reading.

For all of these modalities, output is expected. Be it written, spoken, or constructed. The appreciation of output can be a struggle for some students with disabilities. That not all teachers have the time to wait for answers to be spoken by a student. That not everything that is known can be touched or built but doesn’t make the item or concept any less real. That some things are too big to ever be seen, or a reflection of an artistic choice that cannot be reached visually.

The students we work with have a variety of things awaiting them. Some will go on to work. Some will go on to post-secondary education. And all of these paths will result in a variety of success. Rejecting one modality because a student does not prefer that modality can make practices with that modality much more difficult, or opportunities to self-advocate for clarification as needed.

A few years back, when working with a class of students who were preparing to work on understanding themselves as individuals better,  the outside adult, a psychologist, pointed out to the students that it was not their strengths that they needed to celebrate, it was their achievements when the things that less motivated them were reached, those were the things that needed to be focused on, to move forward to appreciate the struggle, to be able to handle the things in ones life that contribute to the difficulties.

Life challenges students in many ways. One cannot always predict the outcomes or the expectations that will be ahead.

That Reminder You Don’t Always Think You Need

We hunted around a little, but probably not as hard as we should have. But we’d like to do a little end of year reminder that some students at this time of year are a little less than gracious about things. Especially students who are having anxiety for what may await them next years. Typically centering on students who may be transitioning, these students tend to display anxiety in many ways.

Some students self harm, some in less dangerous ways, students who pick at their fingernails, hair, skipping meals, being rude, having social issues, or dying their hair a different color. Other students may find that much more dangerous paths self-medicate or perhaps engage in more dangerous behaviors in that search for an outlet for their anxiety.

It is not a reflection of you as a professional if a student engages in any anxiety behavior. You certainly can feel that pull. You may have worked with a student for a while. You’re invested in seeing students succeed. We recognize that this can hurt and worry you.

Follow your campus protocol for reporting students with self-injurious behaviors. (Ask someone, usually an administrator what to do; they’ll walk you through it)

Be honest about your own limits. A student’s anxiety is not just “a phase.” And even more true for a student with a disability. Seek help for you to deal with your worries for the student separately from school.

That Last Note

Next week is our last week. The End of the School Year snuck up on us hard.


ParaEducate will sign off for the 2018-2019 academic year on May 23, 2019. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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, blog, Campus, Disabilities, End of the Year, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Mental Health, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Self-Advocacy, Students, Transition Activities | Comments Off on Thoughts on Modalities of Learning

The Things That Are Digital

A few weeks ago, Renay was a part of an exploratory committee for new curriculum. Renay has a seat at the table representing special education. The last time Renay reviewed materials for curriculum adoption, the companies were just starting to introduce digital copies of the book or audio copies. Now, the opposite is nearly true, it’s optional for a hard copy of the book: all majority of the texts and supplemental materials will be online.

Part of the world has made a digital leap. For students with disabilities, may things being technically inclined really makes the difference. But the world is not always thinking about students with the whole spectrum of disabilities.

Digital curriculum benefits some with disabilities. We recognize that first and foremost. Students with executive functioning are less likely to lose their materials. The book is there because it is online. The papers that go with the assignment are there and in some cases it is as easy as clicking the “Turn in” button specifically tied from the login directly to the teacher of record. Students who need written words read to them can use the direct accessibility features to have the reading read to them.

Digital curriculum benefits some with disabilities. … But digital curriculum can come with barriers

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But digital curriculum can come with barriers. Curriculum built on digital platforms comes from a place where the assumption that students are ‘digital natives’ that while smart phones may seem commonplace, laptops have been available to students to use in most districts since they were quite young. It also may assume that a student can access the material after hours. However, for a student with a severe disability, some material, especially grade specific material is incomprehensible. Most digital curriculum is locked at a level beyond the lowest student’s comprehension without a connection to their world.

We appreciate the direction of digital curriculum to pair-share and the teacher moderated class discussions. This gets students actively thinking about the material they may have read or uncovered. Sharing ideas in groups is useful. Except when you’re the student being asked to contribute and you weren’t able to read the material. Digital material read by the device output (speakers or headphones) to the student gets some students who might not be able to contribute, but listening to material and being able to respond within minutes is not always possible if a student has an auditory processing delay. Students with ADHD who race through material and annotate required readings may not be connecting to the material read or listened to. This is a task to get to choose how much energy to expend on the material. The name of the game will be “get it done.”

Modifying expectations is a fair choice with digital curriculum. However, what to do with students who are still emerging readers when the material cannot be adjusted? Should the only choice be to exchange a digital curriculum activities that might look less than enticing to a student whose entire class is working on a computer?

For discussions perhaps making groups up to four might help some students, but all too often the larger discussion groups wave off the materials and then turn to whatever else is more enticing, school gossip or sports for example. The model may deny a chance for a student to form their ideas both students with disabilities and their general education peers. After all, chemistry is an idea that has been explored and what is in front of them dealing with the student drama is often much more alluring.

When the entire class is on computers, the goal is that all the students, regardless of ability are on computers to access the curriculum. Substituting appropriate videos is often suggested, but that also implies time to review the videos and knowing that the student will not just be ‘listening’ and that their contribution to the class will matter. Additionally, if one student is watching a video, how is that student then interacting with the material the entire class is to work with?

We know that digital only curriculum is new, but the modalities we have seen presented is a little disheartening. We understand that expecting the spectrum of learners in any given classroom is daunting, but it is the challenge that is before every single company that creates curriculum. We also know that what works one time for one specific unit may not also be an effective modality for the next unit with the same student.

We have provided suggestions to work around digital curriculum, but the suggestions aren’t the best suggestions out there. Just be ready. Digital is coming. But we’d like to see a wider range of abilities addressed.

Side Notes

We were watching at teacher this week teach one of the three most hotly contested fictional books that discuss race as a key point of the entire book. The books are, in no particular order, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Huck Finn by Mark Twain, and The Color Purple by Alice Walker—we recognize that other books broach the topics of racism, but these books come with specific vocabulary.

This got us thinking about resources how to have those hard conversations with students about race and the other –isms that exist.

We came across two great ways to funnel those conversations for all students of all abilities. We thought we’d leave the links here for your reference. Even if you aren’t a part of the class conversation, knowing how to guide students through a frank, respectful, open conversation about race, race relationships, history, and the changes that the United States tries to recognize the road to true equality is still incomplete.

From PBS specifically for Huck Finn, but helps shape discussion points and respectful conversation:

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/cultureshock/teachers/huck/section1_1.html

For all other questions about race, gender, ability, check out

https://www.tolerance.org/

From Teaching Tolerance specifically about the N-word

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2011/straight-talk-about-the-nword

Kindness and Gratitude

We thought we’d wrap up this week by remembering the professionals who helped shaped our methodology. We know we aren’t done, and true professionals are never done learning.

We know each campus is filled with folks who are working hard to help all students.

Thank a person who works in education for remaining to help continue to contribute to the future of all students.


ParaEducate will sign off for the 2018-2019 academic year on May 23, 2019. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Group Work, Inclusion, paraeducators, peers, Processing Delay, Professionalism, Resources, Special Education Teachers, Students, Technology | Comments Off on The Things That Are Digital

The Surprise of May

May is an unusual month really. Some schools are getting out for the year. But the real surprise of May how you turn around and suddenly it is May. In traditional academic schedules May is a month when you have too many days left and not enough days left.

Taking a few moments and remember where you were a month ago or back in September. Progress has been made.

May is a month when you have too many days left and not enough days left.

ParaEducate

We assure you that as things get faster as the end of the year approaches, these days are a part of the fabric that make things a bit bitter sweet.

But this is also not the time of year to only think about this year. Next year’s planning is already under going some review. This is also a time when final evaluations of staff are in progress.

  • If you tend to lead, learn to step back, let someone else lead the way.
  • If you don’t like being in charge, take a chance to speak up anyway–a kind word to a colleague, a word of support to a leader
  • If you listen, share what you took away from a conversation.

Even if you do not know if you will return or even return to the site you currently work: act like you will return. Demonstrate a longevity even if it may not be true for you.

Speaking of May…

We realized last week in a conversation with the rest of Inclusion From Square One that we needed to announce our final blog for the 2018-2019 academic year. It is May, we will end this year on May 23.

The things you find when you least expect it

We have been working on a few side projects here at ParaEducate. We mentioned on our Facebook that we came down on a question: what resources are available (for free or low cost) about specific influences by the federal government or the state governments about specific topics. This is a very muddled question.

The story involved that we ended up supplementing a teacher lesson with some curriculum issued by a different state in a state government office. Which is wonderful and free to everyone with access to a computer. But this had us asking, “What do other states offer? And what does it look like?”

It turns out, the real problem is, “What do other states call this agency and do they have educational materials for their state?” We are getting much better at leading the questions into what should we be asking.

So for some students, this may be in California tracking the water sources, which is available, but then finding material for a student who may not be able to access the material written for high school students.

So we literally started listing off topics that are generally important that are sometimes examined by science classes, and then trying to find the different government agencies both federal and state levels. When we’re done, we’ll share but we are finding a variety of information about this.

Oh, We’ve Introduced Them, But We Really Haven’t Spoken…

A few weeks back, we mentioned that Renay was working with Inclusion From Square One. What we didn’t know in March when Renay started working on it was that it wasn’t a one and done sort of event.

Inclusion From Square One is a resource for folks looking for the “How?” of Inclusion. Beyond the question of “Why” [and sometimes ‘Why not?’] is often asked and explored. The journey is often disjointed for many different groups, parents, schools, and students.

Renay has plans for both our blog and Inclusion From Square One. We’re proud to work with Inclusion From Square One.


ParaEducate will sign off for the 2018-2019 academic year on May 23, 2019. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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, blog, Campus, End of the Year, Inclusion From Square One, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism | Comments Off on The Surprise of May

Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large

In college, Renay would sometimes refer to this book by Rem Koohaus, an architect, S, M, L, XL. Koohause documented buildings that he designed based on scale of the project. Details and an overall examination of the buildings that were designed throughout the world.

There is a connection to education. Sometimes the small things matter. Sometimes the big things matter. And sometimes there are things so big, even adults grapple with them. But there is only one way: through.


It feels like a mountain. In reality this is a divot. But don’t let others accuse you of a divot not being important, but don’t get locked at this divot either.

ParaEducate

Small

It feels like a mountain. In reality this is a divot. But don’t let others accuse you of a divot not being important, but don’t get locked at this divot either.

Does it matter that the holes are on the left side of the paper?

Yes and No. Realistically, the teacher has to flip through dozens of students papers, that one that is backwards and upside down takes time away from the process. For students who desire jobs, filling out forms, even online forms, follow strict rules and patterns. The holes on the left side is one of those patterns to key in on. Yes, even if the student types everything. Some students do have unusual minds, but it’s a small expectation that a student can get on board

Did you miss the signs of a student’s anxiety? They are having problems after school at home.

There is an imperfect world with supporting a student with a disability. Even one when you are assigned to work 1:1. All students, get some space at some time from their staff. They can do little things without being handed every second. It will be all right. But this means it is all that much harder to spot signs of anxiety for some students. You never want to leave a student without support, and often those little extras during the day are hard to see.

Medium

These are the hills. They go up and they go down. You’re exhausted. Sometimes you’ve run the same hill over and over again.

The school library removed the lowest level books from being checked out. How are students who are struggling readers going to have a connection to the school library?

This could be an open conversation. Libraries have finite space. The lowest level books may also not necessarily have a broad appeal depending on the campus. But now there needs to be a new reason to visit the school libraries. There is a unique feature of a student wandering the books, even when they are ‘wasting time’. Encourage the library to consider the spectrum of readers that are enrolled at the campus.

How do you sift through a student’s barriers all day?

Is it refusal because it the task is too easy? Too confusing? Too hard? Did they eat at all today? Did they break up with a significant other? Is this anxiety? Do they need a break? Do you need a break? How many instructions have they heard in five minutes? In half an hour?

Large

You’re always climbing. You’re helping, you don’t know when this ends.

Students who have all this ability and no desire to demonstrate the ability they do have

This can bother some staff. The goal of being in school is to provide proof that progress is the core focus of school. But you hate to see the student selling themselves short. Social emotional learning can help some of this, but not all. Recognizing that students have to dig a little bit for themselves. Whether that is working on keeping a pencil to write with in class or

Extra Large

You can’t go back, and you can’t keep going.

The student you support has now started doing a series of actions that could be considered criminal.

Take a moment. Remember that the student can have the ability to make decisions. Many students, with disabilities are unable to think long term. Teaching the thought process to decide beyond the instant moment is key for all students. But the actions you may be hearing about or seeing indicate your student is in process of restorative justice or spending time with lawyers.

You have to decide professionally at some point how to continue on with a student who is displaying dangerous behaviors. Remember again, the student does not necessarily understand all the implications of the things that are happening. The student does need to know that there are limits to their behavior.

What do you do when it is the cliff and not the wall?

For some students, no matter how much they try, they do not know how to get to that next level of understanding. This is a time to help the student appreciate the work that they can and have done. It is time to look at the appropriateness of the work. Try to make the extra large maybe smaller and less cumbersome.

Why is this useful?

One of the problems faced daily by everyone in education of youth is just deciding what to respond. Thousands of decisions have been made on a daily basis. Trying to keep perspective there and being realistic that a student is learning and growing that it’s not always this lost direction.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to be a guest blogger? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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, Behavior Strategies, Disabilities, General Education Students, Inclusion, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large