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.

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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

Spring

Spring brings change and hope. Spring also brings allergies, more conversations about school appropriate relationships between students, and potentially for some students, moving on to the next campus.

What Is Waiting On the Other Side?

By now the next campus has probably come over. Students have made plans to attend their next school. Whatever that may be. For the young ones though, even if it is the second time changing campuses, perhaps the first time. There is a lot of questions. Fortunately, for students with disabilities, often there are tracks for students to visit their next campus to help them before they arrive to see their campus and to meet some folks who may be there in the fall.

But this is not the only strategy that needs to be used.

Students need to hear from their peers, or even older peers that everything will work out. Maybe it will be their first campus with a locker. Maybe it will be a larger campus and there are many buildings. Maybe it may be the first time they will have to change classes. But all of that will work out and they can feel confident if they give themselves time.

Spend some time with the student. Reassure the student that though they’ll have moved up to the next campus, that you still believe they can be successful.


Maybe it will be their first campus with a locker. Maybe it will be a larger campus and there are many buildings. Maybe it may be the first time they will have to change classes.

Some students express their anxiety very physically. Common challenges in this method include getting into fights with peers or even ripping at their hands. It is important to sometimes let students have a moment to deal with their anxiety. Many students do not naturally have words when they have a feeling they do not know how to mask or share.

Connect students with peers who also may be experiencing the same thing. Get the students to connect about the things they may share. Finding common ground about things not about the following year is pretty important. Building those peer relationships can help make things a little easier.

The Real Challenge of Spring

The part that students do not really seem to be able to focus on during this time of year while all the things are going on: the school year in progress is not over yet.

There will be more projects before they are dismissed for the academic year.

There will be more time with their peers.

There will be more assessments.

There will be time to improve.

There is time to understand the one thing you haven’t understood all year.

This week from Inclusion From Square One

Amanda Morin takes on how the argument for exclusion should be made and not inclusion. Check out the blog here.


That’s what inclusion is. It’s what we all want and are striving for—the feeling that you are at ease and belong without even having to think about it. It never once occurred to anybody in that room that I had to make the case for why I belonged there.

Amanda Morin

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, Campus, Disabilities, Inclusion From Square One, peers, Reframing, Resources, social skills, Spring, Students, Transition Activities | Comments Off on Spring

The Road to the End (of the Year)

We’re back! You might have thought we were taking a vacation. But that’s not what spring break really gives us a chance to do.

First, we released two new items on our Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Because both of these items centered around a specific theme, we created a bundle to sell if folks are interested. The items range for students of different abilities, so some may be more appropriate on some years than others.

And then we alluded to this before we left, but we really got going while we were gone. We started a new project: Inclusion From Square One. It’s not about resources, it’s about helping folks find the answers to “How”. How is inclusion possible? How do teachers…? How do families…? How do students…? All of those How pieces that are part of larger inclusion questions broken down to help groups navigate to an inclusive or even more inclusive education setting. The posts are up with Renay and Nicole Eredics’, The Inclusive Class, more are coming this month including Amanda Morin. There are plans for the future of Inclusion From Square One

Spring Dynamics

Spring provides some different issues at schools. The weather is changing. And no matter the age of the students, students know the air has changed. Unless you’re currently in the section of the United States that is experiencing the revisit of snow, the season of Spring really does affect the students.

Allergies make some students miserable. Some students seem to have lost their self control. Other students who just have found their comfort level in your class fall back on old patterns and are silent or repeatedly absent.

Add into this complex mess of issues with facing standardized testing, more outdoor sports, large projects, and unusual trip schedules and there is a pretty good chance that it may just seem you think you will lose your mind.

Add into this complex mess of issues with facing standardized testing, more outdoor sports, large projects, and unusual trip schedules and there is a pretty good chance that it may just seem you think you will lose your mind.

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  • Remember why days are long to young folks. It isn’t just because their families are possibly cramming in a lot of things. They just don’t have as many memories associated with the way things fill time. This is their first foray. You’ve been hurdling over projects with students for possibly a while now and they’re just learning how to get over them.
  • For the student whose executive functioning may not be where their peers are, remember to be direct with instructions. One instruction at a time. It can be complex if you’re running three or four students at a time doing different or even parallel activities, but making a check list for yourself while you give single step instructions is even useful.
  • Find ways to connect with quieter students. While we really don’t insist on the eye contact rule many teachers have, try and check in and see how they are attempting to work on that poem, get at their level, speak in whispers to the student. Drawing large crowds of attention drains some of these students. Realizing that some of these students have seven or eight separate adult contacts a day can also drain the student. Let the student know that you see them, but let them have their space.
  • Return and review the classroom rules with all students. Make this a regular occurrence. Remind students of the choices they make have consequences. Some consequences can be ‘small’, being admonished by an adult. Some consequences can be ‘big’, a report card that is less than what the student wanted or a loss of sports eligibility.
  • Tissues now more than even during flu season. And if you can swing it, hand sanitizer too. While it is not possible to get allergies from a classmate, encouraging basic hygiene is pretty important.

Spring feels joyful in all the types of celebrations that occur, no matter the reason. It is a renewal, a promise of hope. Education is a hope for many students. Being the stabilizing rudder for students to learn from their mistakes and learn to self-advocate. Build on what you’ve cultivated all 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 Inclusion From Square One, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Spring | Comments Off on The Road to the End (of the Year)

‘Twas the Night Before Spring Break

While we don’t have a lot of words for today, we’re trying to play catch up with a lot of things that need our attention, we thought we’d distract you with a moment of calm before that second before the bell rings to let the students go for Spring Break. Maybe some of them have already come and gone, but we have this right now in front of us. We’re waiting for our very own Spring Break.

And now we shall present: ‘Twas the Flurry After Spring Break

All through the campus, not a creature was stirring.

(Okay maybe a roach.)

The activities for Friday were all spent.

The students running away with glee in their voices. For the idea of ‘no school’ was at the top of their needs

While visions of free bathroom breaks danced in the heads of the educators for the long week ahead.

The science wing classroom reptilian buddies were all fed and snuggled in for a week of not being tapped at,

The computers were all set to ‘off’ in the lab

The brushes were set to drying in the art wing

The silence of music was rather poetic.

History books gained another few pages of information,

While the IEPs were tucked in the files,

The data both anecdotal and quantitative, the behavior reports, and the last minute parent email were going to have to wait.

The mini fridge — the hum was stalled: the plug pulled, the food that could not wait was removed

A week would be long and silent in the classroom, but tomorrow it would be a frenzy of activity.

We need the break. The room needs the break.

As the door closed with a click, we heard the promise, “Happy Spring Break. See you in nine days.”

Speaking of Spring Break, ParaEducate will be off for two weeks.

During the two weeks, we’re preparing for something we hope will be very useful to you all. Just to be fair, we’re not the only voice behind this project. Can’t wait to share it all with you.

Most importantly

Happy Down Syndrome Day!


ParaEducate will be off for Spring Break March 28th and April 4, 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 blog, Campus, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications | Comments Off on ‘Twas the Night Before Spring Break

A Seat at the Table

We have often eluded to this phrase ‘a seat at the table’ in our presentations. But today, we really did experience what this means.

We had the chance to be held accountable with other general education teachers in a meeting about potential piloting new curriculum. And the paraeducators who attended apprehensively were probably not as thrilled, but they were invited to join the group and their ideas were respected as the institutional memory of the last pilot was not within the bulk of the group looking at the new curriculum.

Then the group realized that their paraeducators would benefit from the training on a new curriculum to spot check students, as a whole student population will be learning how to face the challenges posed by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The teachers also listed other ways implementing curriculum in tandem with paraeducators would be useful for their next adoption, to be that leading edge, to take away the down time students could have in their education time getting them access earlier along their peers.

The seats at the table will continue to add on. The communities are growing from listening to each other.

ParaEducate

But beyond this, having a seat at the table with general educators reflectively means that the weight of special education’s role in every aspect of the education process was respected. And the paraeducators there walked away feeling highly valued and their contributions were something that could be heard, right, wrong, or just what was needed to make a coworker smile.

But this was one district. We know that this is not the norm. We know that many districts are challenged in this perception and may not get here as soon as many families will like.

The seats at the table will continue to add on. The communities are growing from listening to each other. But don’t say anything because it is to fill the space. Speak always to be meaningful. Pose questions that wonder. Make comments that notice. But never be afraid to not say something. Listening and processing is as important as being that voice at the table.


For all who celebrate the curves in life

Happy Pi Day (3/14)!

May there be pi and pie in your life in some variation.


ParaEducate will be off for Spring Break March 28th and April 4, 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, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on A Seat at the Table

You’re Going To Be Okay Anyway

For the past week, we’ve been working on a series of things to release and the graphics are nearly ready. These new items will hopefully be very useful to some folks very shortly. Early samples were really very useful. And then last night we received news that we crossed 800 followers on Facebook.

It is a bit of a celebration, but we temper this fact that our followers and supporters nee more than us just to be there and a connection out there in virtual space. We know that getting materials that others can use is very important to us.

Our time on the road did do us in, in fact we had missed a lot in those four days we were away. But this does make us think a lot about the struggles a paraeducator may have when a teacher is a substitute.

Some reminders for everyone:

  • Realize that some classes feel threats are a challenge to meet and exceed. This not to confuse patience with passivity. Students, even students with disabilities might confuse this information. Cooler approaches prevail.
  • Paraeducators in a classroom, even the ones who are specifically assigned 1:1 with students do have relationships with the other students. Some students may be slow to trust substitutes and that trust can be establish in a regular class period. A gentle reminder to students follow the school rules can be very helpful to everyone
  • Health plan information needs to be clearly marked to the substitute. As do recent additions if at all possible. As soon as that student is added to the class at least shove a sticky note just in case you’re out the next day.
  • Sometimes have your finger on ‘escape’. A student who might not approach well with any changes perhaps ask for their buy in to be somewhere else for a short block of time to work on the same content in a different location. Reward students for being proactive in their learning.


If a polite, “Hey you wouldn’t do that if the teacher were here.” can diffuse the situation and get a student back on track, then it’s not a big deal.

ParaEducate

It seems like a lot of information to leave a substitute for a general education class. But it also lets the substitute be aware of any nuances in advance of a class.

No, there is no obligation truly written into any contract that requires a paraeducator to help keep tabs on students when a substitute has come to class. A professional courtesy is helpful. It is exhausting and can be very draining. But think about the bigger lines. Respect between individuals, the infractions that  will get a student sent to the office. If a polite, “Hey you wouldn’t do that if the teacher were here.” can diffuse the situation and get a student back on track, then it’s not a big deal.

A word of caution, not all substitute teachers are receptive. It can be surmised usually very quickly. Always have a place of assuming positive intentions.

We’re well aware…

We’ve not skipped our Cal-TASH recap. We’re waiting to hear back on some folks from Cal-TASH. Though we did get to spend one more minute with Adiba Nelson and met her daughter, the inspiration behind ClaraBella Blue!

One more thing…

ParaEducate will be taking Spring Break March 28th and April 4th. We have something planned. We hope to be ready to share by then.


ParaEducate will be off for Spring Break March 28th and April 4, 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 Behavior Strategies, blog, Campus, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Students, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students, substitutes | Comments Off on You’re Going To Be Okay Anyway