ParaEducate pretty much lives on Facebook. Other social media outlets do have our attention, but not quite as much as Facebook. And sometimes, the ads that are sent to us are rather startling. The most recent one was an ad asking for folks looking to complain about overreliance on paraeducators.
We’ve seen quite a few instances in our career of overreliance. Evidence is shown in those perfect art projects in elementary school, accurately presented material in secondary, students who are never allowed to “fail”, however one might define ‘fail’. Students who never experience peer interaction and students who never really know their general education teacher, the fun activities at school, or the principal. Experiences that are allowed to every other student.
But what are paraeducators then actually for when you look at these moments that happen even at the most inclusive schools?
Paraeducators are for implementing the general education teacher’s or the special education teacher’s plans.
Paraeducators are for supporting students with their health needs, social skills, and bolstering academic skills.
Paraeducators are for supporting teachers in understanding students with their disabilities and with their particular needs.
Paraeducators are extra eyes in a classroom, but not always the eyes that will turn around and discipline on campus.
Paraeducators are aware of deadlines and try to help a student get there, but aren’t dying when the student doesn’t complete all of the assignment even with support.
And finally, paraeducators and teachers are a team supporting a student in their growth for the year.
How best to give a student opportunities to be a member of their school or classroom? Step away. Even for the student who needs you to be within five feet. Getting a perspective across the classroom may give you a better idea of what a student may be seeing or being annoyed by. Giving physical space gives trust to the student to try a skill before asking for help or teaching a student how to ask for help and accept help from someone other than you. Getting a chance for a student to learn from their classmates. Giving a student a chance to enjoy music day or a school concert. Give them a chance, even if you have to sit next to them half way through the event. Give them a chance to learn from the things they need to learn from. Give them the space to make mistakes and grow from that mistake.
Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, 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.