Too Many Eyes

We observe. We observe the teacher interacting with We observe behavior. We observe group dynamics. We really watch the students and try to get a feel of what we need to do, what is reactive, and what might work.

But under that magnifying glass, many students with disabilities are often repeat offenders. Either with behaviors or outlandish behaviors. And these behaviors are often preventing peer friendships or putting academics on the far back burner.

But there is a built in disservice our observations give many students with disabilities.

First and foremost, they’re often called out on their behavior. Not taking out a book when the teacher said to? (prompt) Didn’t get their homework out? (prompt) Even if it is a good natured, “What is your classmate doing?” that prompt dependence can build up.

Of course there is also the fear of social bias. Many students with disabilities are also students who are ethnically more diverse in general than the teaching staff. Students with disabilities also tend to be male compared to the generally expected female teaching and paraeducating staff. Inherently these two paths crossing can yield some biases, many of which individual adults are often unaware.

How does one decide which hills of behavior are worth the climb?

  1. If the behavior really does distract more than one student especially if it derails the class. This is a behavior that the general education teacher can redirect. Sometimes students do certain behaviors for friends and that gets a reaction from adults.
  2. Decide if it is a cluster of behaviors or it’s a challenge of transitioning. If you wait it out, does the student calm down and change gears into class or at least find something worth sitting through and dealing? Certainly when a teacher is trying to get a class to come back in from recess and any student who is demanding attention. Waiting it out sometimes proves to be a useful strategy.
  3. Call out the good things you see a student do. “Catching the good” for many students helps get students to do better. And it helps the anxiety over waiting for things to fall apart.
  4. Realize that sometimes that no matter what, you are just not going to get the student to keep it together. Take a deep breath and make sure you follow the behavior plan.
  5. Take data. Take data how many times you said something to the student, take data when the events happen. Maybe you can help find a pattern. Sometimes you find that the only common factor is you. So maybe you need to back up and wait things.

Take a deep breath. No student has to be a perfectly behaved individual to be included. It does help a lot when getting to make new friends, getting help, and being naturally receptive to learning even when things are very difficult to understand. But keep an eye out to learn what is really going on.


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, Classroom, Disabilities, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, Students, training | Leave a comment

Hands Off, Eyes Up

At some point in their academic career, most students with disabilities start having some issues with an adult who may follow them a little closely. Certainly, many students love the extra attention. But many do not. There are subtle methods for shaking off an adult: getting sent out of the room, refusing to make eye contact, or just flat out rudeness.

And when this comes within the first weeks of the new school year, one feels a little slighted. And it certainly stabs to the heart of the matter when you’re not a stranger to the student in question.

So some steps to deal with this behavior.

  1. Q-TIP: Quit Taking It Personally. While with a familiar student, this is hardest, but you can’t take it personally. Breaking away from adults is a part of growing up.
  2. Privately speak with a student about the behavior. You may find that they feel the extra adult attention is too much. This is a great time to set some limits and find ways to check in on their academic progress. Some students do rise to the occasion and it’s great to watch them have that growth.
  3. Setting limits with their time away with you is an important conversation to share with their case manager. Agree that you’ll be in the room for help, but you won’t be within their eye line all the time, and you’ll be helping other students. While you may be able to circle around the room to see what they’re up to, but you’re not standing next to them prompting them to get on task or checking that they have all the parts of their project to take home. Define their behavior though, they aren’t to be verbally rude to you if you do ask them a question.
  4. If this is the situation, be honest with the general education teacher that you’ve moved into data collection and will be supporting the entire class.
  5. If this method fails, have a plan to see how the changes will occur to still help the student have some control over their independence in the classroom. It is also important to remember that though this failed, that there will be other opportunities for independence but not at the expense of their academic progress.

Though the year has officially underway, it may feel like you’re trapped, but you’re not. Remember to support your colleagues on campus, paraeducators, office staff, general education teachers, and special education teachers. It will make the weeks seem less difficult when they can be very trying.


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, Begining of the Year, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Special Education Teachers, Students | Leave a comment

Too Many Words

Renay has come in the last few days in a malaise. Anything extra beyond sleeping and eating has really been put to the back burner. Days are filled with new schedules, new observations, new professional relationships, new students, and new syllabi.

While syllabi are a part of secondary school, for students with disabilities this may find this part of their day going over their head. And yet it’s time to really decode the syllabi.

What can a student with a disability, especially since this is a high stress time hearing things that they may not understand?

  • Reward the students for following along.
  • If they keep the page in front of them, reward them.
  • If they turn when their classmates do, reward them.
  • Give the student a list of key words to find and circle in the syllabus.

As for rewards: this varies by student. If they’re able to quietly leave, allow them to. Give them a favorite book to look at. If your campus allows it, give the student access to an iPad for some time to decompress. It’s been a long time since any student has heard a litany of words compressed into hour after hour. We can’t change that this is a part of the education process, but we can help provide a path to make this process easier.

Speaking of too many words, just a reminder in those early days to keep directions short and to the point. For some students with disabilities it’s really hard to sift through a lot of words.

Phrases like “Pencil please” is much more effective than “Get out your Pencil, paper, and text book for science.” Even better: try a visual schedule of things for students. The visual schedule is helpful and lets you walk away, giving the student some independence and a reliable path to finding some easy reminders. For students who can read, just write the words. If they cannot, either draw the picture or find pictures online to create the schedule for use in class.

Yes, it’s available now!

We’re very excited for our new book, “On The Shoulders of Giants”. We are hearing some good things about the book. Check it out here.


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, Begining of the Year, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications, Students, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Too Many Words

You Set the Tone

There are an awful lot of ice breakers in the first week of school. Name games that are old hat to some students, they are brand new to many others.

So how do you support a student with ice breakers?

If you can, get them to join the circle. Step back. See what happens. If it’s a memory recall, ask if the student wants support, but realize that some cases the student might get support from peers without your help. Remember the point is to just have fun. There’s not a grade or a moment that is so important they can’t step away. And especially in the afternoon, perhaps that is something a student may need.

If they don’t want to join the group, have them watch. Take notes for yourself. Be away from your student so you can observe them in the class. Go ahead and join the class in the group, set the example that you’re participating too with peers. This will help you learn the class’ names and give students a chance to learn yours. Yes, you’d have preferred if your student joined but if you keep an eye out, you may just find they will eventually join without a lot of bargaining.

Why should the beginning of the year be about fun?

It’s about getting to know each other, finding boundaries and being willing to be flexible. Already information can be observed in a large group setting and in a small group setting. You can already see how often a student might need a break, you might be juggling to figure out when you can take your break or where to meet up to transfer materials for a student who needs materials for communication or behavior. Most of all, it’s about getting students to buy in that school is the place to come to because while there is work, it’s also fun. Too often adults forget the ‘fun’ of school, although adults would prefer the fun to be at least directed and examine the process of learning. But the fun doesn’t happen unless we start to find common ground. That’s why we need the fun.

You told us about a book…

We can tell you our book is back with the publisher after a careful edit and review. We will also tell you we’re very excited to talk about “On the Shoulders of Giants”.  It is forty-three one to two page biographies of scientists through the ages, specifically scientists who contributed to the field of science and changed the way people thought about the world around them through the lens of science. The reading and questions for the scientists focus on students with more severe disabilities giving them material equivalent to their peers to connect to the information that may be occurring in science class. For each scientist, there are two sets of questions, one set is multiple choice directed to the reading for a student to answer. The second set of questions is research based giving students a chance to further their understanding about the scientist who was read about. Scientists from all around the world were selected and contributed in different ways. The book is coming. We’re very excited to provide this book.

Black background, green bars at 1/2 and 7/8 of the way down from the top of the image. White boxes on the 1/2 green bar from left to right two closed containers with arrows showing difference between with more arrows, a segment of DNA in purple (backbone), red, yellow, blue and red-violet nucleotides, and books on a shelf with different colored spines, different number of spine supporters four books standing straight up, one book tipped, two books horizontal.
Cover for the upcoming book

The flip side of selling this book, when we were setting the book up, we were discussing pricing with the publisher. The surprise came to us because the price point for color printed books had recently changed…by a lot. For a 200 page book, it would have been nearly $50 retail if we kept the book in color printing. We went back through the entire book and reissued all the illustrations, nearly four hundred and fifty illustrations. The book is much more reasonably priced. And for the first time ever: we’re offering a library edition of our book. So we’re very excited. As of this morning, our book is nearly 99% ready according to our publisher. Actual release date will be soon and we’ll let you know when that occurs.

Speaking of things we sell…

We were sorry to hear that Teachers Notebook is closing their options for selling in September. This affected us as one of the venues we were selling individual products through. We recently went through the settings and removed our store from Teachers Notebook. If you bought an item from us through Teacher’s Notebook and want to update your product if we update it through our Teachers Pay Teacher’s Store, contact us and we’ll get you set up.


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, Begining of the Year, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications, Students, training | Comments Off on You Set the Tone

Early to Rise

The new school year is upon us. Whether you’re a veteran, newly hired, newly reassigned, it’s much like starting a race. There is a lot of hope that goes into the new academic year. Did students grow up over the weeks we didn’t see them? Were the students safe? What new wonder did the student uncover during the weeks we were apart? Will we get a long? Will I get along with the new teachers? How was your summer? What’s something you’d like to learn this year?

The beginning of the academic year is a fury of activity. For the first day, be as prepared as you can. Bring with you:

  • Water
  • A pen
  • A pencil (with an eraser)
  • A highlighter or a color pencil
  • Notebook paper

Everything else, you can get later, but having these ready to go no matter how old your students are, you’ll be able to start supporting them right away.

How you support a student on the first day may vary. If you know nothing about a student, you may be reacting to the situations as they rise, and this can be very unsettling. By the third day, you’ll settle into a routine and can better anticipate changes as needed. And yes, sometimes what the general education teacher is going to need to come second or third as a student settles into routine. But it’s not the end of the world. We’re still all learning in those first few days and getting the buy in to return is a part of developing a professional relationship with a specific student, but also that class the student is a part member.

Be ready to participate in all the ice breaker activities, make a stab at getting to know the students’ names and start sifting through when you have a chance to look for peers that might be good allies for students you support. Hopefully the general education teacher has started doing so as well, but a second glance doesn’t hurt.

But on the second day, you’ll have changed. You’ll know that you don’t have to be reactive to every breath, but you’ll find other things that might catch your attention.

We mentioned earlier about developing a professional relationship with the students—bring a smile, something to laugh at. Remember a moment of humility as the things that students uncover for the first time matter to the student, even though you may have known it for years.

If you’re a veteran, spend some time with the newer hires and help them learn to navigate their return. It’s a marathon, don’t sprint, find a pace to keep you steady. Together you’ll find the way through the academic year.

Welcome back. It will be fine.  (No, really it will be. We promise.) We’ll all learn together.

Just in case you didn’t know…

Since 2012, ParaEducate has been a resource for Special Education Teachers, Paraeducators, and advocates for people with disabilities. We have provided a variety of information through our books, blog, and conferences. We are currently scheduled to be at AZ-Wins 2019 and have a few other conferences planned. We publish the blog weekly during the academic school year taking time off for holidays. Our primary focus is on the world surrounding paraeducators working with students with disabilities in K-12 inclusive settings. Feel free to contact us.

While we have you here…

So at this moment, for a second major review, our upcoming book is on temporary hold with the publisher. We should know in the next few days and be able to announce the finalized publication of “On the Shoulders of Giants: Selected Biographies of Scientists” included in this book are a series of introductory comprehension questions. Over forty scientists based in history cover the pages with their works contributing to the world of knowledge we have. Our vision for this book includes giving students with disabilities a spur in their connections to the material that their peers may be pursuing. The readings can help students with disabilities have information to provide their peers, even at a very basic level to contribute to class discussions or group projects. These figures of science have all given a variety of achievements and some successes are quiet while others changed the way everyone perceived the universe. We are very excited to share this book with you. And for the first time, a book will be available on an extended platform, look for our book being ready to go to libraries and traditional book stores.

Did you know?

Since 2012, ParaEducate has been a resource for Special Education Teachers, Paraeducators, and advocates for people with disabilities. We have provided a variety of information through our books, blog, and conferences. We are connected to a variety of other special educators through #BetterTogether


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, Begining of the Year, blog, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Students, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications, Students | Comments Off on Early to Rise

On Recharge

We have been off for weeks. And it’s sort of glorious to not have to go through the ins and outs of work. But the summer off for ParaEducate also means publication work.

We were ambitious eight weeks ago. We have a post it note on the main computer of the next twelve books we have in progress. And then we started fast tracking the first three on that list. We are not able at this time release the publication, but what we can tell you, we expect it to be ready in the next few weeks. The early lookers have given quite a bit of praise and support, and we believe you will like it too.

But the summer is about recharging and not just about the work needed to help make the academic year possible. Meet ups for breakfast with coworkers, friends, or other family, late night movie runs with kids, getaways even for a few hours, this is a side benefit of a education schedule, a block of time to schedule to do the ins and outs of not thinking about work. Certainly, one cannot generally survive on only ten months of paychecks, most paraeducators we know work a second and third jobs to make ends meet. But this isn’t the forum for ‘better pay for paraeducators’ (though to be fair we’re always thinking about ways to make that happen).

Between all of these things that we find necessary for life, we know in a few weeks we’ll return to our sites. We’ll peak a little looking for glue sticks or a sticky note pack. We might think about the birthdays we have right away when we get back to work, even of the co-workers.

We are actually out and about tomorrow at the annual California Teacher’s Summit. We take our road show to Sacramento State typically and connect there with different teachers and work on solutions for the past year and try to find a few new tools to walk away with. You might find Renay in the halls tweeting for us. Stop on over and say ‘hi’. We hope to meet with you there.

Enjoy your summer. Recharge. Unfortunately, vacations end with a bell for us. That bell is going to ring soon.


We will return August 16, 2018 for the 2018-2019 academic 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 ParaEducate, Professionalism, publications, Summer | Comments Off on On Recharge

End of the Year: Notes for Next Year

So it was pretty noisy for Renay at work today. It has been quite a week rolling into the final days of an academic year. Finding text books, finding technology, updating technology, keeping on top of tests, enlarging tests, finding space to take final tests, carving out final projects, still trying to hold on behaviors, but you know what: you’re just as excited as the students.

Whether you’re staying or leaving, you’ve spent the year getting resources. Just in case you didn’t know here is a list of folks we think are amazing resources.

Some of these folks are blogs, some of these folks are organizations, but all of these folks are great resources for Inclusive education at any level for any disability.  We receive no compensation for mentioning these amazing resources. But why do we continue? Because we always hear “We want more resources” from folks. Part of getting those resources is taking the time to look them up, reach beyond the 8 to 3 day, and to look beyond the student that is just in front of you. This is quite different than taking work home. Sometimes it’s just necessary to do a little investigating, to find out more.

Other good places, if you legitimately don’t know, ask the case manager/special education teacher. They are a wealth of information. They can even provide resources and training if enough people are receptive.

Thinking about next year, as you scan the room you may use as home base, you may be tempted to pitch everything into the recycle bin. And sometimes, it may be true that it needs to go.

But take time to look through everything. Ask some senior staff, “What is this?” (This is very different from “Why do we have this?”) Did you know that the reason we kept this manual from a computer system that doesn’t exist anymore is because we have a standard set of visual communication systems. Sure we rely a lot on the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) to really supply the bulk of our boards, but if we needed a specific word, here’s a jumping point. Or those binders on the shelf: they’re all adapted work for a student that might have been like a student we had previously. So tuck that knowledge away for next year.

While we have you tucking away knowledge for next year: take a moment to reflect who on your campus you like their discipline style for working with students, who has the best way of getting through to a student who is harder to reach. How about the person who is the most efficient at making on the fly modifications and adaptations? Who knows how to speak to a student, to really let the student know they are heard? Who has the ability to wait out a student who knows how to do a certain skill, but hasn’t been demonstrating it lately? Who knows how to appropriately bond with a student as an adult but still put that student at ease? These people don’t have to be other paraeducators, but many should be. Sometimes it’s the librarian, sometimes it’s the school nurse, a consoler, a behaviorist, a student’s peer, or a general education teacher.


The Days are long, the year is short

One hundred eighty days. Sometimes less if the student is sick often. But that’s all we get in the United States. One hundred eighty days, mostly 8 hours a day. Not just for academics but for social and emotional support as well. And after a lot of time, sometimes it’s not enough. Sometimes it’s too much. And sometimes, we put our faith in hope.

Some students have left the classroom, crossed the yard and we may never well see them again, they’re moving on either because their family is moving or because they’ve moved onto the next part of their lives.

One hundred eighty days of working with teachers who we may not have known before. Not have understood where they were taking the class but we buckled up we’re a long for the ride as well. The year wasn’t without high points, and there were certainly low points to make the highs seem all the higher.


While we have you here…

We leave up our blog as often as possible for as long as possible. With the exception of the majority of our blog posts from prior to May 2014, they are here as a resource for you. Check out our categories, maybe you will find one that you’ll need to file away for later. Or maybe you’re at summer school or ESY and you’ll need a reminder.

We will have one blog during the summer, so stay tuned. We will be finishing some publications and preparing them over the summer, so keep an eye out.

If you need a resource, contact us. We may have it, or if we don’t have it, we know who can help answer your question.

Thank you for staying with us all academic year. ParaEducate the blog will return August 16, 2018. Enjoy your time off.


ParaEducate ended their 2017-2018 academic year on May 31, 2018. We will return August 16, 2018 for the 2018-2019 academic 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 #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Behavorist, blog, Campus, Disabilities, End of the Year, General Education Students, Modifications, National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, Nurse, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, publications, Resources, SLP, Students, Support Services, The Inclusive Class, Think Inclusive, understood.org | Comments Off on End of the Year: Notes for Next Year

Retirement

We were actually scrambling for a topic today and then Renay announced she was leaving the pitch meeting to go to the retirement event for her district. And we all thought this was a crazy choice considering the end of the year is upon us and there were all sorts of things that we needed to accomplish as the blog channel for ParaEducate. So a few of us tagged along and we kind of had a moment out there with the honored retirees of the district.

So, this district takes up a hall and there are light snacks and beverages for all to enjoy. The event is combined between the Teacher’s Union and the union that represents the employees who are not teachers, which is separated from administrators who deal with employment, they are not eligible for union representation. Then the names of folks who were celebrating major milestones with the district were applauded, some were in the audience, many were not. The school board members were introduced and the superintendent spoke and stayed the whole night. This was an after work affair. Most of the district office attended, families of retirees were also there. Young grandchildren and adult children, and some former students all were in attendance in this hall. Though some left early, others stayed for the length of the event.

Coworkers would share a short tidbit about the coworker retiring. Some had a few, but some had many well-wishers on their next big adventure. And then the honored, would get up and have a few minutes to say something about their impending departure or where they were heading. Some said things of importance that they’d miss working with students, or they’d miss the questions that students would ask. But no matter what the job: secretary, teacher, paraeducator, or administrator, they all echoed that their core value was ‘for the students’. It wasn’t planned probably. But it resonated in the room with over a combined 100 years of professional years of experience. When teachers and staff are valued, they can make it through the lean times to support each other and provide that value to the community as a whole.

Another take away we held was the honesty the co-workers had for each other in this intimate forum. They all strove to be positive and laugh with each other. And that helped to bring the reminder that though our friends depart the memories stay with us. That it is only by forging bonds over a long time. That though results are expected quite quickly but the deeper professional connections are only made by years together in the trenches.

Which made us ask each other who we would want standing by our side when it is our turn to retire. And we looked around the names of the ones who had already left us for other choices and know that they’ll be with us. We know we’d name our families, but we’d want that teacher who helped us along the way if possible, the teacher who we inspired, and the student who found our methods useful. The parents who rode the waves with us while their student made no progress for years on end. The OT who helped us learn methods that were useful for helping a student get ready to be in class. The behaviorist who rescued us from a scary situation with a student. The general education teacher who knew when we had enough though we were trying very hard to help the student understand the material. The general education teacher who strived to get the test to us before the test was given. The secretary who knew we didn’t need another pack of sticky notes but had a student who needed to get out and away from class for a few minutes. The department chair who didn’t roll their eyes when we ordered another pack of markers.

The year isn’t over. It has a few more days left to build into memories and professional relationships. Cherish those last days. It is certainly someone’s final mile stone at the campus. Next year is “such a long way away”, but next year also means the campus will be different and that is another chapter in a career.

Just to be clear: we have no intention of retirement yet. There are moments, but we’re staying for the foreseeable future.


Speaking of retirements though:

ParaEducate signs off next week! Let us know what your favorite blog is from the 2017-2018 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 Adminstrators, Behavorist, blog, Campus, Disabilities, End of the Year, General Education Teachers, OT, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Retirement, Special Education Teachers, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on Retirement

Being honest about the end of the year

Not every year is stellar. Maybe a student was not a good fit for you. You struggled all year trying to balance behavior, academic progress, and healthy boundaries for you and the student. Maybe a general education teacher wasn’t a good fit for your work habits. There is also campus culture and then the community as a whole was not what you were expected.

Realistically though, many folks fold up as a paraeducator within a year. One of the goals we wanted to avoid was the energy and skill we wanted to put forth was to help paraeducators avoid that lonely island feeling that can happen, even for veteran paraeducators.

And we have reached out and met with not just teachers and administrators, but other paraeducators. We know all too well about things we can’t change – salary, benefits, retirement, breaks, the list goes on far too long. But we know a lot about the parts that are working and that within the control to help bring the campus together.

But what if you’re not able to stay or maybe this wasn’t the job for you, we’d like to tell you a few things.

  • You did make an impact. You stayed day in and day out when others might not have been able. You saw things that no one would have believed and things that were perhaps not so great. But you got to see the change that happened for the students.
  • Though you may not be fondly remembered, you were a part of the academic year. And just for the time you’ve been a part, you’ve gotten to take a chance to build the fabric of a community. And it’s a legacy that has a lot of meaning. It’s the thing you will take with you no matter the path through life.
  • The students do want to say ‘good-bye.’ Students are rather unpredictable. Every rolled eye, groan, or moan, is just a different way of bonding. The parts we get stuck on sometimes is that the student’s refusals and other off putting behaviors, but sometimes for some students, this is a way they know how to bond with an adult. Even for the students who have trouble connecting, a little card, or a hand drawn picture, that’s the best part of the work in question.
  • Don’t lose touch. Visit the following year if you can, send a letter back letting the kids know you think about them from time to time. Stay connected with your co-workers, they might surprise you from time to time.

We hope you return for next academic year. But we also want you to know that a resignation letter or a retirement letter is not the end of the world. We understand your life demands change and how things work out will direct you the way you need your life to go. However, if you do ever cross paths with a paraeducator, let them know about ParaEducate. We hoped we were able to reach you a little better during your academic year.


While we still have you…

We sign off in two weeks so we can focus on our academic end of year activities and prepare for our annual publishing rush. We have five books that are potentially up for publishing this summer. With this work we will expand the work in providing academic modifications to teacher to use with students with disabilities. We also have been working on connecting more folks through our #BetterTogether folks. So the summer is busy, but we plan on one summer blog and we will return for the 2018-2019 academic year in August.


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, 8 hours, Adminstrators, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, End of the Year, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, publications, Students | Comments Off on Being honest about the end of the year

We say ‘Thank you’, but sometimes it’s the only thing we can say…

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and there are some cute puns around the office. “Why does a phone wear glasses?” “Because it lost all its contacts.” There are thank you’s, there are little gifts from some students.

So we do have to say, we love the letters. The real ones from the parents or the kids, but especially the kids. If you have a class ‘thank you’ project, we might suggest, especially for the students who are still struggling with writing, get a pencil out on the paper and pre-write ‘thank you’ for the student. Then allow the student to cover the letters with stickers or stamps, following the lines. If you really have time, print out a really cool looking “Thanks” with special font, then use a glue gun and cover the letters. The next part will take time, but peel off the paper from the glue when the glue is cooled. Then place the full “thanks” over another piece of paper and let the student paint on the “thanks”. Variation of paint include spray bottles with water and paint, but keep in mind, that requires a bit of clean up.

But while it’s Teacher Appreciation Week, we also like to remind PTA and PTOs that everyone on campus comes into contact with your child. Be it a secretary, the school nurse, a paraeducator. Even if you student doesn’t need the services of a paraeducator, one may be in their class for another student. Education is not just the bits found on the internet and in books. Or what is shared from one person to another. Education today also involves reminding everyone of what skills they may need to interact with another. Education today involves being able to know when to ask for help. Education today involves teamwork, more than ever.

Speaking of Teamwork

In some classrooms, there can be as many as 5 different aides in a room. Why? Because maybe there are one or two students who need one to one support for very specific reasons. Then there may be another four students in the room who have less demanding needs, then a student who has touch in support for a different type of educational structure. Add in one student who is mainstreaming and then you suddenly have a party of adults and students in a room that was originally designed for only about thirty-five bodies.

By this point in the year, it’s probably a little too late to derail some personality clashes that can be involved. However, keeping it straight between adults of who works with what student and to check in with them is. This sounds very counter intuitive. Aren’t all the students “ours”? Well yes, and no. Some paraeducators are given very specific information about the student(s) they are working with. And out of self-preservation, others may not hear the information or because they don’t work with that student or with the case manager of that student. In a crowded room, there isn’t a lot of time to connect with all the adults privately about a student.

By the way, we’re a huge advocate of Q.T.I.P. at this time of the year. Remember that no one is personally plotting against you. No one wants you to have a lousy day by stating something isn’t working out for them. And it is certainly not personal that a student cried because you told them to take some salad with their lunch.

This is the hardest time of year. There are no breaks but the big one coming ahead as the weather turns (mostly) warmer. It is far too easy to just say it ‘doesn’t matter’ and sit back. Being consistent does matter. That twelfth reminder is not an exaggeration. Intervention is needed. Support the students. Support the teachers. Support each other.

And Thank you, as always for all you do, with the resources you wished you had, and the time you really wish that would slow down, we couldn’t possibly stay the course without you.


ParaEducate ends May 31 for the 2017-2018 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 8 hours, Appreciation, blog, Campus, Disabilities, End of the Year, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on We say ‘Thank you’, but sometimes it’s the only thing we can say…