There is probably no other sound on earth like it. The first bell of the first day of school. And it doesn’t matter what grade or how many years a staff member works with the district, but that bell is the final mark of everything that has happened in at least a month or two since you were last on campus and dealing with day to day behavior responses, meetings, health plans, meeting IEP goals, emails, crisis interventions, and making conscious decisions that will trickle down the day.
And then, with all that stress of a classroom that may not be ready to receive, syllabus waiting to be copied, the lunch you forgot to bring with you sitting on the counter at home, the bell rings, and professionally, you change. The smiles come out; it is the first day of school. The new school year on that first day is all about one solitary thing: hope. Hope that things will go differently, that students will learn what they couldn’t learn last year. Hope that behaviors changed over the summer, and hope that pleasantries will last more than one day.
That’s what the new school year is for, changing the direction, stepping into a new role.
Speaking of stepping into a new role, Some things that administrators, case managers, and teachers can do for paraeducators.
Be reminded that paraeducators work on your campus.
This is an odd thought. This adult is here, they have a specific job and they may not be counted. And paraeducators may be left out of events like pot lucks, department meetings, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and even after school gatherings to wish the week away. Look for them in the evacuation of your campus.
Remind them that they are part of your academic team.
This comes more from teachers, but being included on beginning of the year meetings to better facilitate roles throughout the school year. Have a place to start with regard to discipline and responsibilities.
Have a reliable way of communicating with them.
Text, walkie-talkie, email, what system and when can you get to the aide in question. Why? Because running them down in the halls sometimes takes planning. You may not always know where they will be, and they may not always know where they will be, especially in the beginning of the year when behaviors are the most unpredictable for students, especially new students.
There is no greater way to start the school year with the reminder that we are all welcome at school including paraeducators.
If the new school year has just started, or if the new year is on the horizon for after Labor Day, take a moment to inhale that Hope we spoke about earlier. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually last long but it carries through when times are tough. If that first bell has rung: it’s not at all too late to start these three things at all.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, here, and here. ParaEducate is 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.