When this week started, as does every week we publish, we normally have about twelve to fifteen blog ideas running around. Sometimes we scramble those ideas because something happens in the middle of the week and that highlights something that needs to be addressed. Then other weeks, we run with ideas and sometimes they’ve worked in our favor and other times they haven’t. This week, like so many others, we have so many ideas and then our feet got ripped out from underneath us through a very rough “Challenge Day” back to back with different student groups.
But it wasn’t the fact that the Challenge Day was or wasn’t what we thought it should be. And it wasn’t that we all came home weary from secondary trauma from admitting in public to instances that affected us just as much as a student in the room. It was the discussion questions before and after Challenge Day that got to us today.
Before the assembly, the students were asked, to either journal response or orally share in the class.
- In your opinion, what are the biggest social issues at our school?
- Does our school feel like a community? Why or why not?
- Why do you think people mistreat others? What can we do to reduce mistreatment on campus?
In the follow up, students had the chance again to journal response or orally share depending on the teacher’s choice:
- What was your experience like at the Challenge Day Assembly?
- What was the purpose of the program?
- Are you willing to “Be the Change”? If so what are you planning to do?
Students were optionally also questioned,
- What do you notice about your school after the program?
- What would you choose to be different?
- How can you or other peers act to bring about these changes?
- What would the school of your dreams look like?
How does this apply to paraeducators? Because paraeducators see the climate and culture on campus. Paraeducators have an ability, like students, to help inform administrators of specific behaviors across many students. Paraeducators know if the school feels like a community, and they can help move change forward. They are one part of a whole.
A few teachers commented at the end of the day, surprised to see some paraeducators had gone through the “Challenge Day” more than once. While some teachers volunteered to fill in for some teachers, others had been startled to realize that paraeducators were the staff continuity through the entire presentation, that their placement was not necessarily voluntary and that they were supporting students who may have had a variety of social-emotional responses due to their respective disabilities. And they were not just supporting students with disabilities, but also their general education peers.
ParaEducate and paraeducators across the country don’t have the answers for why people continue to mistreat each other or what the visions of each campus should be. What we do know is that communities can rise up and be better than they have been, students should feel safe at school, and that every day, everyone at a school is working to achieve that goal for every student.
Once more, with the same enthusiasm: Congratulations to Nicole Eredics of the Inclusive Class for her book with Brookes Publishing, “Inclusion In Action”, coming next Friday.
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.