For some of you, tomorrow is your last day of work for 2016. When you return, you will be back in the classroom for 2017. But this is also the second most candy oriented event in schools, and there are bound to be gobs of chocolate and peppermint sticks/candy canes being shared around along with the coughs, sniffles, and whatever other aliment that appears during this time of year.
Some reminders for the last few days:
All things in moderation. If you know a class may have a celebration that day, and you are going to share food items as is most common this time of year, try not to compound the issue at hand.
Remember reward charts for the last few days. It is so easy with special schedules to get wrapped up with ignoring the fact that the student did not have math, so why should they earn any stars? But was the student kind that day to their classmate? Did they participate in an activity that was off schedule? Find a reason to keep rewarding the student. This helps later on down the road.
Temper behavior with reinforcing expectations. We get it. We’re excited too. Excited for that last bell, but in the meantime, there are still tests to take, projects to finish, presentations to present. School, in all forms still has to occur. And yes there are still Winter concerts, family events, winter galas and other events that we all look forward to just as much as some of the students.
Plan an alternative activity. Well, back this up a half step: expect everyone to participate, even for 5 minutes. Some activities may be too complex or too loud for students. So this yields the necessity for step 2, have an alternative activity prepared. Whether that alternative activity is outside spinning on a playground item, or maybe in a sensory room jumping on a trampoline until the end of the day, let the student know there will be an escape if they need it.
Be realistic in expectations when it comes to craft time. Is it important to anyone that their craft project look like the most perfect item that the students will come up with? What is important about the craft projects: did the student try to follow directions (Hey, create a check list that they can refer to!), make sure that the student participated. This is different than the “student participated and then I went in and moved the parts in to place.” If the yellow leaf is on the green leaf and not above, it’s not the end of the world. If that part is purple and it should be black, let it go. It is the student’s effort. And when they bring it home, they’ll be happier because of their energies put into the project.
Remember the importance of your manners. This is sometimes easy to get lost in the shuffle. “Pencil on table” or “binder out” as communication to streamline the extraneous noises some students cannot filter through is important. But this is easily remedied as “Pencil please”, “binder please”. And remember ‘thank you’. Your students may not understand ‘you’re welcome’, but getting into the habit helps make the world a better place.
Keep an eye on spaces for a student with a wheel chair. Moving desks for a gathering or other activities can easily box out a student or prevent easy egress from a room for another student. It’s also the time of year when there are larger jackets and lots of wet things that are easily lost. The spaces inside seem tighter because they are. More indoor activities have limited what some students are able to tolerate.
Finally, remember to enjoy this time. When at an activity, and the students ask you about your family traditions, it is okay to say “My family celebrates [holiday of choice].” Or if your family does not celebrate a known winter holiday, share that “This is not the season my family celebrates a holiday, but I like hearing about all of yours.”
One last thing before we sign off for 2016, ParaEducate just made 600 Twitter followers this week! In six months, we’ve reached 100 more folks. In 2012 when we started ParaEducate and were only on Facebook, Renay had questioned the impact that social media would have within the sphere of education. But as time has gone on, social media and education have grown up side by side, enriching teachers from the world beyond their classroom. ParaEducate is proud to help reach teachers, paraeducators, administrators, parents, people with disabilities, and other professionals working with folks with disabilities.
In 2017, look for us at SXSWedu in March with some of our #BetterTogether folks: Nicole Eredics of The Inclusive Class, Beth Foraker of the National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, Sheryl Zellis, and Robert Rummel-Hudson with Schuyler Rummel-Hudson.
You can find us during the holidays on Facebook, our website, Twitter, and Pinterest.
ParaEducate has several books and you can find them all on Amazon.com.
We will return January 12, 2017. 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.