Renay left last week for a quick personal trip. She returned to Los Angeles for a meet up with some friends from college because it was Homecoming. It was a good return for Renay. While many things have been added and altered around the university she got her formal education at, many things are still the same. It was a memory of the core of academia, a home for contributing to discussions and contrasting that with the importance of moving in and out of many different spheres of influence.
And as she was returning home, it was very much about those spheres of influence that help propel the days of being a paraeducator forward. Few adults could manage to be under the supervision of upwards of nearly twelve different people with all different expectations. And then work with up to ten students at the same time with different personal academic, social, and/or emotional needs. And then if there are folks who work in secondary, they have to contend with adolescence additionally.
But those spheres of influence are important. As one continues out in their life, those spheres can get bigger or smaller.
“I am not a hero.”
If Renay had a dime for every time she was called someone’s hero because she worked with students with disabilities, she’d very easily be able to retire and never work again. We won’t get into the amount for being called a ‘hero’ for working in secondary. Hero worship is not a strong suite of Renay’s.
Supporting the talents that exist.
Far too often the focus can be on the big three: math, reading, and writing. But there are other subjects offered in most schools still. Art, computer skills, or leadership/student government are places where supporting a student can also help a staff member find success in creating a relationship with a student. These moments help demonstrate to the students that staff are human and their lives though different, may have a way of giving a student a sense of freedom and success that may not be found in basic academics.
That student, no matter what you do, it’s an argument or something worse
There will be that student in your career that refuses your assistance. Something in their lives may prevent bonding with any one in authority or they could just be a very different type of person than you’ve ever encountered. All your tricks of bribery or behavior supports aren’t meshing with this student. You’ve resorted to the basic command voice just to survive the class time you spend in the space with this student. Two roads here: beg to get reassigned, or find another trick. There is no shame in either option. Some student/adult combinations won’t work. And that’s okay. If you can’t get reassigned, find some skills to help protect you. Take more breaks. Realize it’s not about you and get support from the classroom teacher to help mediate those more difficult days.
The skills are ever changing. Things are coming along in the year. Eyes are on the holiday rush upon us in the United States very soon. Take a deep breath. It will be all right. And smile. The year is approaching being half over.
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? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? 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.