We observe. We observe the teacher interacting with We observe behavior. We observe group dynamics. We really watch the students and try to get a feel of what we need to do, what is reactive, and what might work.
But under that magnifying glass, many students with disabilities are often repeat offenders. Either with behaviors or outlandish behaviors. And these behaviors are often preventing peer friendships or putting academics on the far back burner.
But there is a built in disservice our observations give many students with disabilities.
First and foremost, they’re often called out on their behavior. Not taking out a book when the teacher said to? (prompt) Didn’t get their homework out? (prompt) Even if it is a good natured, “What is your classmate doing?” that prompt dependence can build up.
Of course there is also the fear of social bias. Many students with disabilities are also students who are ethnically more diverse in general than the teaching staff. Students with disabilities also tend to be male compared to the generally expected female teaching and paraeducating staff. Inherently these two paths crossing can yield some biases, many of which individual adults are often unaware.
How does one decide which hills of behavior are worth the climb?
- If the behavior really does distract more than one student especially if it derails the class. This is a behavior that the general education teacher can redirect. Sometimes students do certain behaviors for friends and that gets a reaction from adults.
- Decide if it is a cluster of behaviors or it’s a challenge of transitioning. If you wait it out, does the student calm down and change gears into class or at least find something worth sitting through and dealing? Certainly when a teacher is trying to get a class to come back in from recess and any student who is demanding attention. Waiting it out sometimes proves to be a useful strategy.
- Call out the good things you see a student do. “Catching the good” for many students helps get students to do better. And it helps the anxiety over waiting for things to fall apart.
- Realize that sometimes that no matter what, you are just not going to get the student to keep it together. Take a deep breath and make sure you follow the behavior plan.
- Take data. Take data how many times you said something to the student, take data when the events happen. Maybe you can help find a pattern. Sometimes you find that the only common factor is you. So maybe you need to back up and wait things.
Take a deep breath. No student has to be a perfectly behaved individual to be included. It does help a lot when getting to make new friends, getting help, and being naturally receptive to learning even when things are very difficult to understand. But keep an eye out to learn what is really going on.
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.