In the flurry of projects that get hurled at students this time of year, it’s a good reminder: it’s just school and it doesn’t need to get all done. For years we’ve discussed modifying curriculum and adaptations. But what if the student still doesn’t do it when it’s modified or adapted?
- There may be a good reason why: no support at home for homework. Even activities like coloring a map does not always mean it will get done. Families of students with disabilities may have additional therapies or have socio-economic stressors limiting completion of work. Additionally, families with students with disabilities just want time at home to be a family and sometimes that family time is not just homework time even if they may have other children who do not have a disability.
- The material is still too high for the student to participate without significant support. While a good goal is independence, sometimes a student may still be learning to read or identifying numbers. The student may not be able to access additional materials or understand all the words of a video they watched online.
- It honestly isn’t that important. The number of paraeducators who look at Renay with pure shock when she says that the assignment isn’t important even though it may be half of the student’s final grade means the phrase doesn’t register. Many students are honestly emotionally fragile for a variety of reasons. If you work with students who have behaviors, identified as emotionally disturbed, or other reasons, you may not be able to access the reasons, school at this moment is not the goal. That intervention for the repetitive behavior is more important. Stopping the self-harm is more important. Making certain the student is safe at home is more important.
- The student’s inability to complete a modified or adapted assignment is not a reflection of your work. Your job is to help the student with access, not to work them beyond their abilities. Certainly, the student needs to try, and that can be evident especially at this time of the year.
- Passing the responsibility to study hall or the tutor may not yield any more results. Some students and their disabilities make after school time or later times in the day may result in more inability to get things done.
- Doing the activity assigned by the general education teacher may not be the best representation of the student’s learning.
- The student has the right to fail. This part gets caught up in a lot of arguing, but sometimes, students make a conscious choice, even students with disabilities. Whether it’s going with social image, burn out, or not caring, the student’s work is still the student’s work. If you removed the paraeducator from the equation, how much of a difference would the nagging have made to the student to attempt the work? None?
It’s hard to see someone ignore something as important as their own education. But all those little pieces may sometimes be just parts of the life that makes up a student. It does snowball, but learning these lessons now before a student gets out into the world beyond traditional schooling is important.
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.