It is a truth in education: things go wrong. After all, you have at least thirty different cogs making a machine of a classroom run. And each of those cogs are likely to follow their own interpretation of the instructions. Any little thing, at any moment can turn this finely tuned machine upside down.
Fire alarm going off unexpectedly? Sure, three students are in the back of the classroom crying.
Student literally ate another student’s favorite yellow marker. Student responded by breaking out into a fist fight with the previously hungry student.
Student’s parents have decided to stop a therapy they were using with their child. Student’s behaviors of work avoidance increase and that student’s successes are brief if at all during a day.
Another student has moved for the fifteenth time this academic year. You are nearly certain that the student and the family are probably living in the family van at night.
A substitute was not the right fit for a series of students or classes, and now you don’t quite know how to help them make it to the end of the academic day.
The student that always needs help could not go more than ten minutes without asking for help one day and followed you around asking for help. No matter what you did to shake them off to get them to use other resources, they stuck to you like fly paper.
You support all the students, but you find yourself shell shocked. And you walk over to pick up your lunch or jacket at the end of the day and you just cannot think about getting to the bus, your car, or your bike to get yourself home. At least not yet.
Those things that are happening during the day are still swimming in your head. And the final bell has rung. And they’ve followed you like a dark cloud. You might not be bothered by it really, but sometimes this does add up over weeks. And especially with stresses that appear in December that can be social and familial, this does lead to a perfect storm sometimes.
Some strategies for coping with this chaos?
- Sit for a moment at the end of the day. Your mind is swimming with things you might have to do: report data for IEP goals, file a report with Family Services, follow up with the Principal for student discipline. But just sit. No phone, no papers, no hurry to find that missing document. Take a deep breath, slowly let it out. Let the day go. Don’t think about later and the millions of other things you know you will need. Let go of the day. The final bell has rung. It is okay. The day was hard. But everyone is fine.
- If you are lucky enough to have a confidant on campus, see if they are available after work, even for a few minutes. If you work with other paraeducators, talk to them about the day’s events. If they witnessed the same events, discuss what would need to be done the next time, or if something bothered either of you. You’ll find that perhaps you were not the only one bothered by the situations at hand. They may even know what to do for the “next step” if this is bigger than either of you should address by yourselves.
- If you find that this may not be enough, you may need professional help. Some districts offer counseling for its employees. Do not be embarrassed: take advantage of this item. It can be really hard to do this job for the hours, for the lack of benefits with the same number of stressors that happen in some other jobs.
Renay has always loved the end of the day chats. It can be hard when other people have just as many demands on them that they have to be somewhere, but those moments, realizing that they are beyond contract, help put the situations into context. Tomorrow is another day to start over. But today, we’re here and now supporting each other because we were all together when it happened originally. Being inclusive as a school doesn’t just mean the students, it means we’re looking out for all the staff members too.
One last thing before we go, ParaEducate was named with The Inclusive Class, Think Inclusive, Removing the Stumbling Block, National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, Ollibean, Kristie Pretti-Frontczak, and Kids Included Together. We would be remiss to note that the majority of these named are also members of #BetterTogether and are amazing resources for different facets of inclusive communities. ParaEducate is honored to be among them. Thank you to Brookes Publishing for recognizing all our work.
There is only 1 more blogs for 2015! 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? Find ParaEducate online 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.