Laugh. Educate.

When the week has been hard because all the students can think about is a day off, you can feel like you are just counting the minutes along with the students. But there are some moments of clarity.

Renay has been sitting in health class with students supporting students to learn about positive choices to make and the remaining lessons of the class are subjected to laughter and smirks by the students. But Renay has been holding a line being professional over the health class. At the end of the day though, reviewing the little giggles: it reminds us that there is joy in watching students learn.

At the end of the day though, reviewing the little giggles: it reminds us that there is joy in watching students learn.

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Something is uncomfortable, a fact, a new science procedure, a realization in English class we laugh. And the educators in the room may internally smile. But it will be the thing that carries them through the day. After a million times redirecting a student to stay on task, then finding something to make one smile can carry you through.

Educating is a hard industry. Most folks are believed to not make it past five years. Remember the laughter as someone learns something new. Find the joy in the day. Educating alongside a student with a disability in an inclusive classroom is unique because one is not alone. Those moments of educating together are shared. Especially ones that make us smile.

Before we go:

ParaEducate will take the week of United States Thanksgiving off, November 28th. If you celebrate any variation of Thanksgiving, we hope you are with people who appreciate you and the things you bring to the table.

And to our veterans, especially those who have served the armed forces and are brave enough to enter the classroom, here and abroad, we thank you for your service and sacrifices.


ParaEducate will be off the week of November 28. Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, Campus, Classroom, Morale, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism | Leave a comment

The Conversations You Need Have Ready

The whole week blinked by in a few minutes for us. In fact, we did miss our posting date, but we had some other things needing our attention this week, the cobwebs in the office were decorations, and there were costumes to share.

We have been observing Renay lead conversations with students. Getting the students to realize their behavior or understand how the information they are taking in from class connects to their lives.

Watching someone have the conversations that we are not ready for helps keep the tenor of tone even. That takes time to learn how to give the right words when the moment demands the tone. Being firm and stern matters sometimes. Being calm matters more. If you have that elevator response ready, your students know they will be able to count on you in the future.

Every time Renay approaches each student, the approach is a little different, but the content remains the same. Name the behavior that happened, ask the student about the reasonableness of their reaction, give the student the tools to avoid the situation in the future, discuss the consequences, tell the student you believe they can be better, be prepared to run after the student, remind the student that in about ten minutes they will have a chance to try again.

Conversations about a student’s awareness of their disability

Students may know what the features of their disability divide their abilities from their peers. But until there is a real difference, when the student can’t keep up in a class, or they are overwhelmed by academic demands some students don’t face squarely with the challenges some disabilities present for students.

Remind the student that there are great things they can do just that the things that are bothering them, while possibly important, are not stop signs, they are potentially just brick walls. Working at the wall may make some things more possible. Remind the student the truths in their strengths is not a platitude to make them feel better, it is what will serve them longer when things get more difficult.

Remind the student the truths in their strengths is not a platitude to make them feel better, it is what will serve them longer when things get more difficult.

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Redirection after a behavior

Students get derailed. All students, not just students with disabilities. Be specific with the behavior. Be specifics with two or three better choices for the next time. Be honest about future consequences.

Those Uncomfortable Talks…

Helping a girl with a pad during her period at school, or discussing why we don’t stare at girls let alone stare at anyone within two inches of their person. Growing up is just as difficult for adults who are along the ride with the students.

Be factual. Loop the case managers back in. Lean on the school nurse a bit for the big questions. And avoid being embarrassed. Kids ask sometimes because they are genuinely curious. Do not flip out, avoid the conversation, or forget to ask why the student was asking. If the student is asking a question, there may be a really good reason.

On a related note: if you have some deep personal convictions about human anatomy or anything related to sexual health, take a deep breath before you start with a student who has asked you to explain something to them. While all our advice is primarily for people who work in public schools, we are very well aware that many public schools in the United States are on a huge spectrum of providing knowledge to students. If you are at a school that does not match your comfort level, do not go off and support a student beyond what you are allowed. Provide the information to the case manager to connect with the families.

If you’re at a school that provides more than your comfortable with, take a moment and learn along with the student. Most information about health is provided in a non-biased way. Find some zen or ask to be assigned differently: you are entitled to your personal opinions. You are not allowed to share your opinions in a classroom without there being direct ground rules.

Before one completely loses their mind. Educators repeat themselves. Often and frequently. Find a way to make a checklist. Find a way to teach students to self-select. Remember, wherever they are, however, the student is, some days, you may have to meet them at their level. Every day is a chance to do it over again. Maybe you’ll figure it out the next go around.

The role of relationships, especially during difficult conversations is a way to bridge gaps with students who may otherwise seem harder to work with. When a student trusts you, the world could collapse around you and things will still be awesome. It will be the reason you will come back every time to try and make a connection with more students. That first moment though, have a few things you’d like to always have ready to go. Just in case that first moment is a hard conversation.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Behavior Strategies, Disabilities, General Education Students, paraeducators, Professionalism, Skills Lesson, Students | Leave a comment

Copy, Paste, Repeat

Renay is off in a corner making up a math project that she thinks may work for something she will share soon. But how busy she has been has made us appreciate something more this week. There are many things we’ve said multiple ways, but we need to keep saying them. We really need you all to hear the words: students have things going on and veteran educators need to let the new educators learn and grow with support.

First is that everyone has something going on. What we do not see with a student, all those emotions, things they think about when they are not concentrating, those things they come with the student. We’ve said a lot of about students who have trauma in their lives and we recognize that educators may feel helpless with that student needing help. But more resources exist now than ever. More schools are trauma informed, and have crisis responders within the district. Not every student will let adults know and not all adults on a campus know exactly what is transpiring. Choose kindness, even when it drives you nuts. Yes, you can set boundaries, but choose to be kind even with your boundaries. “I prefer you use words appropriate for the classroom.” Or “I am a teacher, I am here to help guide you in the classroom, and I know you are having a difficult time, but everyone in class is expected to take turns right now.”

What we do not see with a student, all those emotions, things they think about when they are not concentrating, those things they come with the student.

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Secondly, the reminder that even veterans need to learn a new trick. It is flat out intimidating to walk in as a new staff member teacher or otherwise, and not know what questions to ask. Veteran staff are often issued to newer teachers, and there can be some growing pains.

Some reminders:

  1. Watch then react. Some teachers are not bothered by some things some students do. The student that needs to get up and move and pace in the back of the classroom? That’s normal to them. That ticking sound the student makes? Not a big deal.
  2. Be willing to learn from them. Sure the way someone else taught this topic was really useful. Or that lab is great. Or a very inconvenient way of graphing but it works for most of the class. The things they bring up and have the student do, even as a new teacher, might actually catch the student you’ve worked with for years.
    1. If it is bad, let them know privately. Not in front of students. And never complain about any teaching adult or educating adult on campus to another student. It’s really unprofessional.
    1. If they take you to task, don’t offer professional criticism again. Be cautious. They may not be used to working with another adult in their room at the same time.
    1. If you can’t stand being in the room with them, see if you can switch out with someone else. Get out of the professional relationship if you can. If you cannot, remember the next point…
  3. Believe in the new teacher in the same way you believe in your students’ capacity to learn. Some teachers come to education and they have thousands of hours of working with people with disabilities. Some teachers come to education and they have had an uncle or a brother with a disability. And some teachers have only had that one class they took that one time and the notes were recycled the second they were done with the class. But they will learn to work with the students with disabilities. And they will even love some. Give it time.

Believe in the new teacher in the same way you believe in your students’ capacity to learn.

ParaEducate

It has been a busy month. October is a perfect time to take stock of all that the year has yet to offer. And duck: because grades are coming. If not they’ve already arrived.

Before we go…

Inclusion From Square One is in the middle of their publishing week. Check out the newest post from Lisa Friedman of Removing the Stumbling Block.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #kindness, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, Inclusion From Square One, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Removing the Stumbling Block, Students, Trauma | Comments Off on Copy, Paste, Repeat

Eye To Eye

Renay was in a full-on sprint this week getting through the week with several projects and when she came in today to discuss our weekly blog, there were two things on her mind: one on one paraeducators and the speed of education.

For the majority of the paraeducators out there working with a variety of students, one on one is a mixed bag. The complexity lies in the simple fact that other than being asked to work with a specific student one on one, a paraeducator has no say in the creation of being a one on one support. The IEP Team makes the ultimate decision for the student’s pursuit of academic, emotional, and social growth while at that campus.

Students who need one on one paraeducators typically have excessive behaviors, a major health need, many academic support needs in a classroom, or a combination of all the aforementioned.

The question is always: How does one give the student the support they need and the space they need to be a student?

Students make mistakes. Students can wander and wonder about things other than what is right in front of them. The same experiences should be given to a student who needs support one on one.

There are times when it feels as your supporting a student that you cannot break from their routines or their needs. We usually suggest taking a Q-TIP (Quit Taking It Personally) at this point. Not to short change a bad pairing, especially a one on one, but if you’re dreading coming to work, or you are very worried about your own safety, that is not a positive working environment. We really do suggest you talk with your case manager for that student and explain that it is not a good set up for you.

We usually suggest taking a Q-TIP (Quit Taking It Personally) at this point.

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But why are one on ones loved and hated? Some families demand that their student have a one on one and the rest of the IEP team may push back in the interest of Least Restrictive Environment for that student. Some families never want a one on one for their student, wanting their student to wander freely through the experience of education, which could be possible but upon observation, maybe some more support, though not necessarily a one on one is needed.

Other one on ones have different personalities and priorities. While personalities with a student with a disability may need adjusting, the priorities are really long-term outcomes for the student—and yes, even their IEP goals.

One on one support can develop a relationship. And in this relationship, the adult has to consider a few things.

  • Are you recognizing that the student is maturing?
  • Are you giving time for the student to develop relationships with their peers in their classes?
  • When you intervene or redirect a student, are you giving them time to try and figure out what the request by the teacher was? This is a big one, even if you have to be right next to the student because of a health need, give them time.
  • Remember that their work is their work. The letter ‘H’ is written in the line above? Leave it. The coloring is outside of the lines? Leave it. They forgot sentences end with a period? Leave it. They don’t understand the instructions so go off on their own tangents? It’s okay. No, it really is. Any student with a disability has to learn from their mistakes, just like their peers in general education.

One on one is challenging. Though Renay will be the first to tell you she enjoyed her time working one on one with students. She knows it’s not always appropriate for all students. She also knows it is not the best world for many of the students in the long term. But for a year at a time, consider the role, you may be surprised at the outcome.

Speaking of Giving Them Time

Renay was walking across campus today when a student she knows flopped across the ground and sat in the middle of the quad. On the plus side, the student chose a space where people could easily walk around them. On the other side, well, flopping in the middle of the school day when folks have places to go, even when they have a visual schedule, well, it’s inconvenient.

But it got us thinking about how school can be a bit of a rush slog. From another perspective, school could just be about going to different places, and doing different things, with seemingly different rules about how much can and cannot be tolerated.

From another perspective, school could just be about going to different places, and doing different things, with seemingly different rules about how much can and cannot be tolerated.

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Some things that we know work:

  • Meet the student there. Okay flopped down in the middle of the quad? Well, guess the class is going there. You won’t need the entire class, but if you can find one or two motivating peers, maybe class can just be outside or wherever the student stopped for the day.
  • Try a sensory diet. Schools are loud places for many students with sensory complications. Temperatures are strange from the hall to the classroom and the light can be quite different. Lockers slam, the noise echoes. People crowd halls. Check with your OT about things like this. They will have suggestions.
  • Give the student the time. Leave class five minutes earlier. Yes, this means packing up earlier. Take the time to get through the sections that appear to make the student struggle.
  • Wait this out. The student will figure it out. And while they may be missing therapy time or something you know they enjoy; it doesn’t matter. The world isn’t built for many people on it. All we can do is wait and let them know we are there. The student will let you know when they’re ready.

If Renay had a dollar for every time the world demanded too much of her, she’d probably tell you she’d retire in a few years. She might have to wait longer if it was a quarter or so, but the world doesn’t stop for anyone. For some of us, we try and keep up for the times we can, and the rest of us take breaks. But it is also important to understand when someone else is taking that break.

Before We Go

Next week, Inclusion From Square One returns! For one week, we’ll be talking about a variety of things, our highlight will be a shared post from Jewish Special Ed! We’ll talk about that more next week.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, IEP, Inclusion From Square One, OT, paraeducators, peers, Q-TIP, Reframing, Students, Support Services, training | Comments Off on Eye To Eye

On The Horizon

It’s been a week here at ParaEducate. We’re lucky in our section of California: we didn’t lose power. But that doesn’t mean the weather hasn’t played with the attention of all the things we’ve needed to accomplish. The weather has affected working with students, working with the things we need. Fortunately, the weekend is nearly here.

Where Have We Been?

This isn’t a post about the blog going somewhere or ParaEducate coming back from somewhere. This is a post about history.

It’s the middle of October, one of several months dedicated to a variety of disabilities. We aren’t here to quibble over the phrasing of ‘awareness’ verses ‘acceptance’. We’re here to look at how far we’ve truly come.

A bit of truth-telling we need to share—Renay has been on a professional detour of sorts and hopefully will be making something we need to really delve into this history project we are about to embark on.

We promise this is worth waiting for.

Wait…Isn’t There Supposed to be a Book Announcement?

ParaEducate has been working on a very special book for three years. Of which, in the last five months there was a complete re-write. Not a partial edit, a completely new file was started and built around the original project.

The book is currently in multiple pieces being reassembled and sorted through. It involves some intensive illustration and not all of the original art pieces are quite ready. We’re almost there. We promise. You’ll be the first to know.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in ParaEducate, Professionalism, publications | Comments Off on On The Horizon

Teaching With Training Wheels

Renay was out doing data sheets this week, her life seems to have returned to the world of data. She was working on some data from a student teacher, trying to wrangle the instructions and provide the students she supported with help.

Student teachers are fun. They’re young, they’re hopeful, they mostly are cool.

There are some things we need student teachers to know and appreciate:

  • We know your time to work with the students you’ve selected for your projects is limited. We appreciate you getting your feet wet and figuring things out. Watch us before you start your data or your approach. While the student may have never hit another person, we saw their hands clench when you bent down close. We saw the look of disdain in their eyes when you asked for their eyes. We said nothing, partly because you need to be aware of these things and partly because we did not want to undermine your burgeoning authority.
  • Data Sheets need to be simple. Yes, the goal should be there, but what symbols, numbers or tracking? Be concise on the way we should gather information. Our job is to do our best to follow your instructions.
  • It took us years to learn too: prompts to correct students need a minimum of 20 seconds before offering up another prompt or choice. And do not creep up on the student.
  • You can be wrong. And we will smile and take it. But let us show you a few tricks, we’ve taught a few student teachers as much as a mentor teacher.
  • Take a moment to appreciate the fact that while one (or two) teachers are signing off on your work in the program, you’ve got at least one other professional keeping an eye out for your well-being.  
  • Get organized now. Not later. Not next year. Everything goes into a specific folder. Be ready for things to get lost. Make copies. Print extras. Find the system that works for you now. You’ll thank us later.
  • Ask about the acronyms. We’ll shout them at you as we run down the hall…we know most of them. The ones we don’t know, we’ll ask someone else.

You can be wrong. And we will smile and take it. But let us show you a few tricks, we’ve taught a few student teachers as much as a mentor teacher.

ParaEducate

Student teaching is a very unique place in a professional career. Some have more information about tactics than others, and it’s your job to share the wealth, not just sit down and be in awe of a good, or a team that is learning to find the skills to work together. Don’t worry you’ll get the hang of it before your next term sends you somewhere else.

October Is Busy

October is literally one of the most celebrated packed months for people with disabilities.

October is:

  • ADHD Awareness month
  • Down Syndrome Awareness Month
  • Dysautonomia Awareness Month
  • National Dyslexia Awareness Month
  • Spinal Bifida Awareness Month
  • Occupational Therapy Awareness Month
  • October 6: World Cerebral Palsy Day
  • October 15: White Cane Awareness Day
  • October 13-19: Invisible Disabilities Week
  • October 13-19: International OCD Awareness Week

Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in 8 hours, Campus, paraeducators, Professionalism, student teachers | Comments Off on Teaching With Training Wheels

By the Month

Things have finally settled into a routine. There are a lot of bolts that need tightening as September leaves all those early days as a far memory. Approaching October things to remember that behaviors to encourage include asking for help when a student needs it. October is about knowing that the student always does not have a pencil when they come to class.

  • October is the reminder to students that they have choices.
  • October is the reminder that there are consequences for those choices (grades).
  • October is the reminder to wait before going in to help students without being asked.
  • October is the reminder to look beyond behaviors to find the things you like about the student.
  • October is the reminder to appreciate modifications.
  • October is reminding the student that you believe they can do the things they believe they cannot do.
  • October is the reminder about really getting into the groove and working things out to make the best year possible.

You aren’t winning the battle by taking the hills with students. You’re winning the battle of making a difference with a student with patience and perservance — the same skills we want all our students to demonstrate eventually.

You’re winning the battle of making a difference with a student with patience and perservance — the same skills we want all our students to demonstrate eventually.

ParaEducate

The memo your principal normally doesn’t send

Participate in the spirit week. Sure, you might forget the thing every day, but try a few of them. Yes, we found a jersey we can wear to work, or the tie-dye shirt, or the crazy socks. (Okay maybe not the socks, they need to be washed again.) It isn’t lost on the kids that you’re participating. Maybe consider dressing up with a cape on superhero day. You know the blanket with clothespins on the shirt like you were still three years old. The kids appreciate it. As do the other adults. Having fun together at work is contagious, it makes the hard days easier. A campus that is supportive for both students and staff is a world of difference for the campus community as a whole.

By the way…

October means that Inclusion From Square One will be publishing again. We’ll let you know when they’re going to run their stories.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, Inclusion From Square One, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students | Comments Off on By the Month

Two Roads…

We’re going to let you in on a little secret. Renay’s least favorite poem is Robert Frost’s poem, “Two Roads Diverged…” However, she worked past that disdain for this week.

“I don’t have a disability.”

Whether it comes in a moment of exasperation or a moment of clarity, at some point, many students with disabilities come to this point and state, “I don’t have a disability.” Especially if they need help with their academic work. For the side of the adult, this brings about a lot of thoughts.

Are we too physically close? Did we give too many instructions? Who has been making fun of the student? What brought this about? Does the student know?

But at that moment, the real question is, “What do I tell the student?”

There are ways to be proactive before the question ever comes around. Special education teachers can start by opening the door and talking with the students on their case about their disability, the official name, the fact that their disability has patterns that make certain things difficult for that student. This would also be useful if this conversation came in preparation for the student’s IEP.

Some pitfalls: the family not wanting the student to hear their reason for the IEP.

Take on the question at the moment?

  • Really truly, proceed with caution.
  • Do not feel obligated to talk to the student then and there. You can simply state, “I am sorry you seem frustrated.” or you can ask, “Why did you make that statement” But don’t read too much into it. Report back to the case manager, no matter what you chose to do.
  • Did you read the first statement?
  • Have a coworker present if at all possible.
  • Be factual about the way their disability presents itself. “When you get anxious, you get a break and your teacher might not always see that you need a break.”, “Your mind has trouble when you hear directions, my job is to write the instructions down for you to see them.”, “You have trouble seeing the board, my job is to make sure you have the handouts enlarged.”, “I’m coming around and asking students if they need help, but I am especially asking you right now what you understand.”
  • Tell the case manager this happened.

Some students may truly not need help. Observing from the back of the classroom, having a clear line of sight to that student may truly be enough. Letting the student know that you’re there to help is very useful, and even when they ‘don’t get it’, they know they have space to try and find methods to figure things out.

While we are on the subject of proximity…

It’s that annual reminder, while some students require that you are within an arm’s reach for health or specific need, try and step away from students and give them space. Let the student make a mistake. Let the student drift off and be off task for a few minutes – what? Their peers are most definitely daydreaming, tired, stressed, or otherwise, just like the student with a disability. They may just hide it better.

Their peers are most definitely daydreaming, tired, stressed, or otherwise, just like the student with a disability. They may just hide it better.

ParaEducate

One more thing…

Speaking of proximity: If you need to vent about a student and their behavior, be sure to do it without the student around. If the student appears, take that deep breath and let it out slowly. Drop the venting right then and there. Get yourself into the space to work with the student. Don’t keep talking about the behavior. You are the professional.


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Behavior Strategies, Disabilities, paraeducators, Students | Comments Off on Two Roads…

What To Do vs. How To Do It

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

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

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

In the sub binder the absolute, non-negotiable:

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

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

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

ParaEducate

While We Are Talking About Subs

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

One more thing…

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

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


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, Campus, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, substitutes | Comments Off on What To Do vs. How To Do It

Juggling Backwards

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

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

The Mind of a ParaEducator

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

Both have to remember:

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

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

But a paraeducator also has to remember:

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

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

ParaEducate

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


Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online herehereherehere, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company interested in providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | 1 Comment