ParaEducate 2019

Committing to the Long Haul

The part that gets frustrating is paraeducators expect to be trained. Most are tossed into the fray and the results are hope for the best. For some people trial by fire works because the only way to know if one can really handle what might be happening is to really experience it. And this creates a level of either those who can or those who find that this method is not the best way to go about helping students along the educational process.

But every time Renay goes out to give training to paraeducators, there’s a small problem. When planning for twenty to fifty people for a training, suddenly at start, there are only five. And of veteran staff one person if we really looked at the numbers. All too often veteran staff feel disenfranchised and do not attend trainings.

But how to fix this?

  • Offer Professional Development, or chance to increase payment.
  • Build presentations that help veterans teach a campus culture to new staff.
  • Offer smaller trainings (1-2 hours) specific to awareness/tips for working with a specific student
  • Have general ed teachers teach the highlights of specific upcoming units.
  • Have a specialist (OT, PT, or Behaviorist) come in and teach specific skills to staff for collecting data or interventions. Perhaps while it may be directly suited to one student, the skills learned could help other students

We resolve…

Every year at this time, we talk about things we’d like to accomplish over the upcoming year at ParaEducate.

We’ve been looking at our publishing list, the books we have in process, and we’ve looked at the books we’d like to start. We aren’t certain but we know we will keep working on our books. We’ll get it right.

We appreciate our supporters all around the world.

We want to connect more people. Beyond just social media. We’re looking forward to sneaking a few #BetterTogetherIRL moments.

We want to keep making skills review for paraeducators on line.

How can I do all of this?

Often we are asked “Wait, you did this all on day one?” Actually no, Renay managed to learn this all by about day 400 and is still learning. What is right for one moment is not right for the EXACT same reason twenty minutes later. And not just because it’s a different student or a different relationship with a general education teacher.

What we suggest though: do one thing.

Choose:

  • Demonstrate that you believe the student can do the things asked of them.
  • Demonstrate that you believe your co-worker is ready to take that leap and work with the student
  • Stick to one task with a student and praise them for following through
  • Stay organized, keep things in one place so you can find them.
  • Have more patience for students who need more time to process speaking, let them find their words themselves

There are many others, but try one of these. Resolve to keep one of these suggestions for a week. See what happens to your life professionally.


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, #BetterTogetherIRL, 8 hours, Behavorist, blog, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, PT, Skills Lesson, Special Education Teachers, Students, Support Services | Leave a comment

When Will I Use This?

The space that ParaEducate operates in is pretty much stacked in an assortment of gifts and ribbons this time of the year. And like our students, we have only one thing on our mind: vacation. The upcoming break is much wanted right now. There was a lot going on this week at work: students have abundant access to sugar at this time of year and even if the air in California is not tinged with the potential snow in every corner of the state, it is at least tinged with the knowing expectation of a break from school. Every adult on campus knows without a doubt that the students are about to explode with every moment thrilled that school will let out for days.

But sometimes at this time of the year, there are things that make us stop and remember that school is still in session. So when the question that came up from someone, “When am I going to use this?” snapped us out of our stupor of trying to maintain a hold on the little bit of world we were trying to control, we had to take a moment.

We have issues with this question when it comes from a student. Academically speaking, all of “this” curriculum is necessary. It’s training about thinking, it’s the challenge that broadens the mind. Even as we, ParaEducate, like to look at big ideas and not the factoids that drive some ideas.

Individually, however, the answer is much more complex to a student. Adults, both in and out of education, recognize that the life that awaits all of us can be complex and we will not know what skills any one person will need.

It is fundamentally possible that a person can legitimately avoid ever needing the quadratic equation outside of a direct math class. However, the quadratic equation teaches many skills. The process of using the equation, including keeping track of multiple variables, understanding multiple symbols of math, tracking multiple answers, is the real goal. For some people, even knowing and applying an existing equation to a solution is far better than trying to develop an answer with limited resources. This yields also to the skills of understanding to know when the answers inside the box are as important as having an unusual answer.

The world is changing. Having more skills and being able to flex those skills is important for all students of all abilities. And perhaps the skill of learning to waiting out the answers for not peering into the mountain of one’s future should not always come as an ascent but as a single step.

On the other hand, is the lesson so indirect students are unable to reach quick conclusions about academic relevancy? The pursuit of knowledge is a goal and finding the questions to fuel individual curiosity is the challenge at the root of every lesson in school. But all too often the option of ‘not teaching this topic’ is too easy to separate out some students from others. This raises other issues of equity in education.

There is, of course, the immediate response: is the student annoyed or is the student rude? There are ways to derail class with the tone and suggestion that class is not relevant to just one single person, that even though few people may directly use a specific skill sometimes is limited to only a specific industry. But the investment in “now” should be ‘figure this out’, and wait and see. It is hard to deal with students who seem jaded by the education system—many students with disabilities are legitimately jaded by the never ending following of being challenged by things that are too far over or too far below their skills. The rallying cry then becomes “teach the way they learn” or engage the students at their level and the push back is from other educators and parents demanding to keep students accountable. It is a very strange place to be in the middle whether or not any student has a disability or not. Teaching students that patience is the skill. That one day the skill could matter.

Skills look different for all students and skills need to be varied. Not all students will learn all the information for the long haul, no matter how the information is taught, explored, or built. But the process remains. And so we continue on.

One last bit…

Before we close out, if you celebrate Winter Solstice, Festivus, Christmas, Kwanzaa, other holiday, or calendar New Year’s: enjoy the celebrations.

We are signing off until January 10, 2019. May you and your loved ones have time together, however you define it.


ParaEducate will sign off for Winter Break, next week, December 20. 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, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Holidays, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students, Winter Holidays | Comments Off on When Will I Use This?

Pause and Celebrate

The Storm

The week here at ParaEducate started pretty normal. Monday came and went. Nothing seemed out of place. And then the absences started flying. People were sick. People were sharing germs. It got messy pretty quickly.

Sick days are meant to be sick days. That is why they are built into the system. It may often feel like you cannot be absent, it is pretty important to take the sick days so you can recover. While we know many paraeducators work more than one job to make ends meet, one of the features of the job involves being able to take a sick day for being sick. This does preclude those who take a lot of sick days, that’s a different problem for some folks and it may address another need they have with supervisors.

But it is not just the missing coworker, some districts have a pool of substitutes ready to go in and fill the gaps. The information given to substitutes varies. But some information should be given to the substitute to best work with the student(s) they may encounter and the staff members they will work with.

Being sick is not fun at all. Things are always going on. But everyone works better when everyone feels well. And we all appreciate when our coworkers return healthy ready to tackle the challenges of every class every day.

Celebrations

There are two parts. The first is it’s the season of celebrations. There will be a staff party. There will be staff expectations: a potluck, a gift exchange, a white elephant gift. These events all happen pretty much during December, no matter which December holiday you partake in, if any at all. Be willing to participate. If you are not willing to participate, prepare for the ribbing for non-participation unless you have a religious reason.

The second is that we have an announcement this week: not only will we start our February off in Arizona for AZWINS, we will be found in San Diego for Cal-TASH. We cannot wait to share our presentations with you in those venues.

Who is your #EduHero?

This week, The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion ran across #eduhero. We started exchanging heroes online via twitter. And there’s quite a list of heroes, especially when you go to our Inclusive list of special education minded folks. And they’re not just teachers in the trenches. There are professors whose research is helping to improve inclusive practices for all students. There are consulting professionals: doctors, OT, PT, SLP, APE, and Technology specialists. There are parents of people with disabilities and people with disabilities of all types.

The list is huge. And it’s growing. Heroes come from all over. And all heroes look out for each other.


ParaEducate will sign off for Winter Break, next week,December 20. 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, #kindness, APE, AT, Behavorist, Campus, Conferences, Holidays, National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, PT, SLP, substitutes, Support Services, Winter Holidays | Comments Off on Pause and Celebrate

To The Strengths

What a student brings into the classroom can vary on any given day. Some bring tools to be able to do school. Others bring personal trauma and challenges that they can and cannot share.

But when we look at the things we enjoy about our students.

The student who comes in, every day and asks how you are. And no matter what, you find it in yourself to find a smile for the student because even when you aren’t working at your full capacity, you find something to be happy about to respond to that student.

The student who has been giving you the most unkind behaviors all week turns around when another student is being rude and says, “You don’t get to tell an adult working with you that!”

The student who has been fighting the entire year over a school policy has written five complete sentences on how the school policy is wrong.

The smile on the student’s face when they got a win at the wrestling tournament.

When we celebrate the strengths, we remember that students are just students. While we also have to remember the things we have to help a student with, because ultimately they are not able to do everything that may be asked of them minute to minute and day to day. School is hard for many students with a disability. Find a smile in every hour to enjoy.

Before we leave this week…

Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate! Enjoy the season and the spirit!

National Inclusive Schools Week

It is National Inclusive Schools Week. We are often still struck sometimes when we walk onto a campus in another area and we realize that they are happily chatting with us and they are not an inclusive campus. But to the normalcy of segregated classes for students with disabilities for the majority of their day makes us twitch. We can point out the research that supports life long benefits for all students with inclusive education, but we also recognize that even within each student: their academic pursuits will vary.

We have lots of thoughts about inclusive schools and we have some more plans soon to keep this discussion going. And as always, we keep looking for ways to make education #BetterTogether. Stay tuned!


ParaEducate will sign off for Winter Break December 20. 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 ourwebsite. Paraeducate is a company interested in providing materials,information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published weekly during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Campus, Disabilities, Hanukkah, Holidays, Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students, Trauma | Comments Off on To The Strengths

Talking Through the Rough Draft

Two weeks ago we broke down the parts of a five paragraph essay and how to modify the expectations of doing early essays in their secondary academic career. This week, we are working on “How do you get a student to write anything [let alone a paragraph or essay]?” There are many ways, and we know working through ideas that can be bouncing around in a student’s head about the topic is not exactly intuitive for most guiding another person.

Before we get started: source material is the research or in the case of a literary response, the book or reading specifically chosen for the essay.

The talking through

There are two paths to take with talking a student through the sentences to write down the paraeducator can scribe physically pen to paper or type in a computer to get the essay in.

Writing the words as the student says them is probably quickest, especially for the rough draft. If there are graphic organizers, use them from the student to help direct their sentences. But be direct. “Well what do you want for your topic sentence” is not nearly as useful as, “The topic sentence for [this topic from your thesis] covers these quotes of your evidence. Why was [this topic] important for you to talk about?” In the second method, you are helping a student find words to put down and drawing attention to the material they need to reconnect with.

If it is not an essay for a test, ask clarifying questions. Offer options especially for transition sentences. Writing tip: look up transition words. There are many lists for the transition words.

The stumbling that happens, especially for young writers, is that an essay is not a conversation or a blog post. An essay follows some academic conventions:

  1. No pronouns used unless it is within a quote from the source material. A pronoun is a word that includes the following: I, she, he, it, they, we, our, zer, zey, and so forth. Phrases to avoid include, “I felt that …”, “In my opinion…”, “She was so heart broken when he…”, “They found the rock samples…”
  2. No contractions. “Can’t”, “Won’t”, “Didn’t”, and“I’m” unless it is a part of the source material.

Keeping that in mind, most folks do not naturally speak in conversational academic language, but because you are scribing, write specifically as the student speaks unless they correct you. It is important to keep the student’s voice in their essay. Outside of an essay for a test, you can prompt for a complete sentence after the ideas have traveled out of the student. Be aware there are some nuances, while outside of the rule of academic writing that are a part of learning a method to write an essay. That part will be corrected through editing and revision. Too many students get hung up on the fact that five paragraphs seems like a lot, the important part is getting the words out and down.

If the student directly type in, expect a slower progress than sometimes just speaking.

There is Technology…

We are often asked about text to speech. While the technology has progressed quite a bit and is available in more platforms than ever, text to speech requires a few more skills that some students may not have including enunciation. Text to speech also requires to ‘get to know’ the user.If Text to speech is a system that is to be utilized by the student in place of physically typing separate the skill of learning to write from the first text to speech attempt. Make it a point that the ideas need to be the foundation to writing. Then have the student go through and read the work into the device.  Over time, ideally, text to speech will get easier for the student to use, especially reviewing the rough draft for use of academic language. It is also important to know that text to speech formatting will require a lot of work in the end to get any document into a teacher’s preferred format.

The goal is to get the words down. Academic communication is really wrapped up in the pattern of statement, evidence, and analysis. This can be daunting for a student who may have recently mastered writing a sentence or struggles with reading. Essays are not about the wall, they are about the path getting to the wall and describing the climb over that wall no matter which version of a modified essay your student attempts.


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 ourwebsite. 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 Campus, Class Specific Strategy, ELA, Essay Writing, History Class, paraeducators, Skills Lesson | Comments Off on Talking Through the Rough Draft

Beyond the Graphic Organizer

We would have liked some organization this week, but as of six hours ago, we didn’t know we’d be on vacation. At least from the work of paraeducating, and not ParaEducate. ParaEducate is about 3 hours from the Camp Fire, while everyone at ParaEducate is safe, needless to say the state of the air quality of the Central Valley of California has left everyone hoping for rain. But before school was canceled citing health concerns now that we’ve reached ‘Unhealthy’ AQI, we were looking at the process of writing an essay.

We realize some folks still have nightmares about essay writing in high school English classes. And most times, folks don’t always believe that a modified assignment can dovetail into a general education English class. They can, and they cannot. For the purposes of this demonstration,we will be looking at a traditional 5 paragraph essay assignment. Before you take a student through an essay, you have to wrap your mind around what an essay is and is not.

An essay is ‘advanced’ in the idea that it is a connection of paragraphs that lead through a journey. Nuances in writing are complex. There is a balance between a student not knowing how to overcome the barrier of ‘I don’t know’ and the loss of their voice because you are directing the student’s work hoping to help the student find the teacher’s vision for each student. Master wordsmiths break all sorts of rules when writing, however, learning and adhering to the skills of a traditional essay helps all students learn the patterns and when the student is able to start ‘breaking rules’, they understand what they are doing.


There is a balance between a student not knowing how to overcome the barrier of ‘I don’t know’ and the loss of their voice because you are directing the student’s work hoping to help the student find the teacher’s vision for each student. 

The Traditional Assignment

Not to induce nightmares, but here’s the breakdown: a teacher has a prompt and the student writes an essay to that prompt.

A traditional 5 paragraph essay has 5 separate paragraphs, the first being an Introduction. The introduction paragraph will have some background information and most importantly, the thesis statement outline three pieces that will be explored deeply in the body paragraphs.

The body paragraphs, of which there are 3 separate paragraphs: are written in the following order: topic sentence, piece of evidence, analysis of evidence, and concluding sentence. It is often encouraged to have at least two pieces of evidence with analysis for each piece of evidence. Evidence can be a quote from research or other reading that is needed for the prompt. A variation of an approach to analysis, depending on the subject, very common in History based classes, is that the essay introduce a counter argument or disproving ideas that are refuted by the primary evidence.

The final paragraph is a concluding paragraph. The concluding paragraph must restate the thesis and connect to reflection, but does not introduce new ideas or counter ideas previously mentioned.

Modification


…make the wall less cumbersome to climb over.

For students with disabilities, the point is pretty often to “do less”, make the wall less cumbersome to climb over.

Variation 1:

The student write a 1 paragraph “essay” to the prompt. Depending on a student this could be a 5 sentence paragraph (Topic sentence, evidence, explanation of evidence, reflection, and conclusion.) OR a 12 sentence paragraph where evidence and a reflection on each piece of evidence is provided, but is contained in a single paragraph. The students doing this version are not necessarily expected to have very deep understanding of the evidence provided, but this would be a direct link to a subject expressed by the prompt. There are many graphic organizers that support the writing of single paragraphs. One just has to search the internet. We understand that the “Hamburger Graphic Organizer” is fairly popular with writing a single paragraph.

This variation is the most useful with students who may fatigue easily because of their disability or who are easily distracted. Additionally, this option is for students who are still emerging writers, they’ve been able to write a sentence on topic independently but maybe not respond to a longer chapter book yet.

Variation 2:

The students writes an Introduction paragraph only.

This would be a student who is still ramping up past writing a paragraph on topic. This is an exercise used by some teachers just to gauge the students’ readiness in essay writing. But for some students, just getting to that opening paragraph and writing a concrete thesis is enough.

Variation 3:

The student writes an Introduction paragraph, a single body paragraph, and a concluding paragraph. In the introduction, the student focuses on one idea in their thesis. The body paragraph will have the student explore and provide evidence that one idea. Finally the conclusion is teaching them to wrap up the entire paper.

Before we leave modified essays, we want to point out we specifically left off ‘filling in a graphic organizer’. A graphic organizer is a tool. For students who can write, or are being encouraged to write sentences,starting with a graphic organizer is a great method. The next step is to take those pieces and connect to sentences.

But what about peer editing?

Peer editing is a rather difficult move when working with students with disabilities. There are some thoughts here on that too.

  1. Just let the students see the work as it is. Certainly the peers may comment that the work submitted is too short, but follow constructive criticism and help the student see the parts that are most effective to their growth as a writer.
  2. Swap papers that are modified only with modified peers in the class. This is often a good idea. Sometimes students who are modified actually don’t have the ability to go through a peer’s five paragraph essay. It can be daunting to look at a peer’s three to four page essay and realize you only formulated a few pages if at all.

Peer editing is invaluable to all students. It helps students learn to appreciate skills their peers have it gives students a chance to see opinions other than their friends.

We amazingly didn’t forget Formatting

Formatting an essay is a little cumbersome for some students. Fortunately for the most part, while format is often part of the grade of the essay, it is not the end all and be all of skills. Being comfortable around a computer is usually pretty important at this point for a final draft of an essay. If you ever need help with a specific layout, look it up, or the school often provides manuals to approach the different writing styles.

This leads into citations as well. A modified student may not necessarily complete a true citation in the format that the teacher likes. There are wonderful resources now online that allow students to format without consulting a table. Just drop in a URL and you’re off and running. Some students with disabilities will constantly need to be walked through the process, even a modified citation system. Giving the process will help later on in if they choose to continue to pursue academics.

We nearly had to write an essay just to explain an essay. Essay writing takes some finesse to lead a student through. We will talk about that more soon. 

One more thing…

We are off next week, November 22, to celebrate the annual Thanksgiving traditions observed in the United States. If you celebrate, we hope you are with loved ones. ParaEducate will return to blogging on November 29.

Another thing…

For anyone in any of the areas of California under evacuation or whose families are affected, we wish you safety and some healing peace while the firefighters on the lines continue to address the devastation the fires have caused. Those in the areas with horrible air quality, please continue to practice safety and caution when having to go out and look in on those who may be most likely affected by the poor air quality.


ParaEducate returns November 29. 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 ourwebsite. 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, Class Specific Strategy, Classroom, Disabilities, ELA, Essay Writing, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, Students | 1 Comment

When You’re Not Working as a Team

When we ask Renay sometimes what to do when we don’t like some of our co-workers or our assignment, she says first thing, “Don’t bite them.” And we laugh and we say, “No, really I’m not getting along with that person. What can I do?” After we were done laughing, we know that not everyone communicates in the same way, even among adults.

So here are some tips to improve your ability get along with a fellow professional

  1. Try to have some space. Try opposite ends of the room.
  2. To avoid personality clashes: be honest and upfront about “Hey, can you take notes in this class we’re together and I will keep track of the students who haven’t handed the assignments in.” Offer up equal responsibilities in interchanging manners. Do not always do the heavy lifting but don’t use that against the other person. Make the responsibilities clear so that you both have spheres of influence to help the entire class.
  3. Kill them with kindness. If that coworker is late, always make sure that the students they service are set up ready to go when they walk in. Smile. Hand the notes over.
  4. Always speak professionally to the coworker with students and other colleagues. There are a lot of reasons not to like someone, but be professional first.
  5. Support each other. Especially when enforcing school policies.
  6. Realize shared spaces, like the classroom, are to be neutral if you really need to discuss something. Pick somewhere else with space to walk away if you both get heated.
  7. Find out things they like. Get to know the person. This seems antithetical. But if you find out that coworker likes dark chocolate, every now and then a small piece of dark chocolate or a bar on a special occasion does grease the wheels of kindness.
  8. Make your goal to be a clear communicator. Avoid sarcasm or little jokes because others don’t hear those special lifts in your voice all the time.
  9. Be respectful if you realize you’re the one they’ve put boundaries on. This is sometimes hard. But realize that your methods of working with students may not be an appropriate method for working with all students.

There are a lot of things going on in a classroom, but agreeing to put professionalism between the adults and students as the ultimate goal helps create a starting point. You don’t have to agree 100% of the time, but you have to make the best of the relationship and find away to have mutual respect. 

One more thing before we go….

We want all interactions between professionals to be kind and productive. There are all sorts of people who are good fits for working with different students. Like we often tell students: you can’t pick your bosses. Sometimes the job you need is the job that has unfavorable conditions. Knowing how to communicate professionally can go a long way to helping students learn to treat others with respect, even with a difference in approaches is an important thing to model to all students.

It is Veteran’s Day this Sunday. Most of us have Monday off. On the 11th hour, of the 11th month, on the 11thday, it was agreed that the Great War (World War I) would end. While this day is Veteran’s Day in the United States, it means no less. So for those of you who have chosen to wear a uniform or were drafted, we thank you for the ability to continue to have rights as citizens in a democracy, the option of voting for who we best feel will do the job we need to get done, the recognition that we can help our fellow human beings out across the world. We recognize that all our Veterans gave something of their lives, even without going overseas to serve.

Wherever you are, thank you for your service. To your immediate family who felt the loss of your long days, missed holidays and other special moments, thank you for your service.


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, 8 hours, Campus, Classroom, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on When You’re Not Working as a Team

Connecting (More) Dots

No matter how hard we tried all week, we were at a loss for this week’s blog topic. First we were grappling with the tremendous loss in Pennsylvania and not being able to say words for something that continues to happen—that our places of learning, schools and places of worship are still targets for hate and fear for our communities. And we still had to get on top of the major release we are currently preparing for December. Then we had this major interruption called “Halloween” which results in all students on any given campus having trouble focusing so that really becomes the “first thing” we have to address to support all students over anxieties and reminding of school appropriate behaviors.

So we struggled really with this week’s blog. But then we realized, we’ve written it based on what we saw our colleagues across the #BetterTogether.

This week, from Amanda Morin of Understood.org, she went and looked at the importance of drills and her son’s anxiety. We have an accompanying article we wrote about the things to consider when doing drills for students and what to talk to administrators about.

Through Twitter, we were mentioned multiple times as resources, and the resources that we were named alongside aren’t folks to ever ignore. Our friends at several different places have always provided us a lot of information when we don’t always know what to do. Understood.org, Think Inclusive, Nicole Eredics from The Inclusive Class, and The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion are our typical associates, but we also rely on Kids Included Together, Removing the Stumbling Block, Shelley Moore (Check out her YouTube Channel).

Speaking of Twitter and #BetterTogether: We saw some of friends in the Jewish community of Pennsylvania help each other rally together. And this reminded us of  something bigger.

Why bother connecting the dots? Because we’ve learned from so many professionals over the years that education cannot be a solo endeavor. Without the demonstration of community, we do not bring inclusive communities to our schools. We ignore the foundations of how we try and build our world up in our little corners to help be shored up by more than one set of hands at a time. In that modeling, we provide our students in and out of school that connection to understand the world by working together. ParaEducate doesn’t come up with the blog posts in a vacuum, we are honestly influenced by social changes in the world and we see the interactions of hundreds of educators on a daily basis and we collectively swap ideas how to help each other. 

Education is not a solo act. It’s a hard concept to learn, even by educators who have been there a long time. But we’re all here. We’re figuring this out together.


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, Behavior Strategies, blog, Campus, Classroom, National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Resources, School wide emergency plan, The Inclusive Class, Think Inclusive, understood.org | Comments Off on Connecting (More) Dots

Veteran vs New Hire

Renay was telling us the other day how she had clearly become a veteran. There was a recent hire in the room helping her with direct instruction and on the other side of the room was a veteran paraeducator with a student in the middle of some behaviors that were increasingly getting loud and more dramatic. The Veteran, was dealing though the recent hire was very uneasy with the situation as the student’s behavior was becoming louder. The other students were employing time tested strategies, noise canceling headphones, asking to work outside, and the students were allowed as they were.

In addition to supervising students and their work Renay was preparing for another class later in the day by reviewing the strategies students would be expected to use in class. While Renay wasn’t efficiently working, she was working. Meanwhile the new hire was looking over at the other student.

After class was excused for the day, the new hire looked over at Renay. “How do you do that?”

Renay spoke to the new hire and explained that veterans trust each other. She then also explained to the new hire that their job in the event that the student’s behavior needed more support was that he was to take the kids elsewhere on campus that the veterans, with experience in different behavior interventions, even for tantrums and meltdowns, they’d work together.

That feeling of being unsettled when it appears that a student is trying to purposely hurt a coworker shouldn’t be an easy one to over look. It takes a long time to not react with the little slaps or punches some students employ in a way to communicate displeasure with being held to a standard when their favorite activity is so much more attractive. And every veteran, no matter how seasoned, has limits to what they will tolerate from a student’s behavior.

Some things to keep in mind before stepping in:

  • Ask before stepping in. Letting the staff member really know that you know they are struggling but also being aware that they need to call the shots in the relationship with the student.
  • The other students come first. If a student in having a hard time communicating or is refusing a choice and starts to be very upset about the choice, the other students in the room come first. Whether this means they go out to enjoy the wonders all around campus or learn strategies to cope, that may be on a day to day basis.
  • Know that the main behaviors won’t last forever. Behaviors such as hitting or tossing are a part of communication. Responding with, “I am sorry to see you are upsets. We can wait until you’re ready.” Or redirecting, “I see you were doing a classroom job, can you show me how it is done?”
  • It is okay to be unsettled. It’s not the way folks think classrooms, any classroom should be. If you have questions, please ask the case manager or even someone who works with the student. They will be as honest as they can be so you can better help support that student learning to work in a classroom environment and then eventually other things in the world.

Some behaviors feel like they will take forever, but the students do learn who they can get the results they’d prefer very quickly. One day there will be a new challenge or a complete change and the nostalgia will kick in and you can relax for a little bit and remember when just getting through two activities was such a chore. 

It’s on our mind…

For years now, we’ve observed a suspicious rise in kids who aren’t motivated. Grades, calls home to parents or guardians, self-satisfaction aren’t motivators. Small rewards daily aren’t motivators. It doesn’t matter if students are being asked to build and apply skills, ask to question the status quo. And it certainly doesn’t matter how old the student is, if there is something unsettling at home, or if they’re dealing with bigger personal issues.

But we’re not unaware that this is hard to deal with. It’s frustrating. As educators, even the most basic level of every class is necessary to move beyond the classroom.  We also are very aware that retaining students doesn’t change outcomes.

The students aren’t all students who have disabilities, but often they are students who do and the student has decided, for good or bad, that they will not put in any effort into their formal education.

It is hard as an educator knowing that students don’t know what awaits them after high school, with and without college. But educators don’t want to give up on any one student. Certainly some educators are better suited to some student types than others, like all personal interactions. But when it’s consistent from instructor to instructor, with no mater of approach, it’s disheartening to watch a student just be ‘housed’ in any education system. We’re looking into this issue. We wished we have answers. 


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, Campus, Disabilities, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on Veteran vs New Hire

Dots

Our minds split this week but we couldn’t let go the memory of this week. But we had to spend some time plotting out the blog this week. And what we ended up with resembled a lot of dots. So we chose to connect them. Even if they didn’t really want to go together.

Life and Memories

In 1989, Renay will tell you it was her first earthquake she could remember, and she was still in elementary school. And it wasn’t a small thing considering the fact that over one hundred miles from the epicenter she rolled along with the waves of the earthquake in the middle of dinner. But when Mother Nature strikes, there is very little any one of us can do but appreciate that we were hopefully minimally prepared in some way.

A constant reminder for everyone: drills happen, as today is the Great American Shake Out in regions that have earthquakes. Make sure there is a plan to help a student get under a desk. Know where the exits are. Be prepared to help move debris out of the way. Use the school approved systems to communicate during a disaster. Emergencies are just about the only time we might suggest that absolute following of procedure is critical to helping all students in the event when it happens during school hours.

Between Students

We started this part a couple of different ways. When trying to pitch this idea previously we found we’d get off topic, because peer interactions are really core at inclusive education. When going out to watch students and their social interactions with peers, it’s a little foreign but so very familiar. Connecting dots with some students with how to connect to their peers is sometimes a lot more difficult than it seems. Add in the awareness to desire to be nothing more than like peers who most likely have no disability or a disability that is much more hidden than the one of a student with a significant disability and sometimes peer interactions can turn down right messy. Most students are honestly not unkind to students with significant disabilities. However, students with disabilities can be unusually unkind to other peers with disabilities. Sometimes it’s because some students with disabilities do not have a lot of contact with other students with similar disabilities. Occasionally, students feel they are ‘above’ another student because of grade, age, or they don’t understand that a disability can look very different from person to person.

  • Facilitate kindness. Everyone is a member of the school community. Some folks just need a little more time to do some things than others. Encourage kindness between peers when praising students doing the right things.
  • Teach that not every disability presents the same, there are items that help a student who has a disability communicate and that sometimes frustration is normal for anyone with and without a disability and in those moments of frustration, we all forget how to communicate the way we would when we aren’t frustrated.
  • Remind students that they stand up for each other or they can be lost without everyone. Take advantage of school programs that help connect students like Mix it up days to introduce peers to each other and just be kids.
  • Be honest about limits though. Peers who have difficulties speaking even if they use AAC may also naturally fatigue. Meeting new people and learning to navigate those social interactions takes time.
  • Teach students with disabilities: friendship, true friendship, does scientifically take over 300 hours. (If you want the study, google it, quite interesting). Friendship isn’t just that two people like being around each other, though that is at the core of being friends, but it’s about exchanging ideas and sharing interests. Friendship involves giving and taking from both (or more) people. And best friends, those are people who spend the most time over the longest time. For the youngest students, this is probably the hardest to understand, with or without disabilities—time is very different to the very young.

With peers life is better. At least if you’re lumped in being miserable, you can at least smile across the room and be miserable together. Or share a giggle on the playground about the time someone sneezed with a gummy worm in their mouth.

True friends are gifts. And no one should ever be denied that chance.


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, AAC, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Commonality, Disabilities, Inclusion, National Anti-Bullying Month, paraeducators, peers, School wide emergency plan, social skills, Students | Comments Off on Dots