Renay will not mince words: writing the blog on the go is not her favorite activity while traveling for a conference. After all there are a lot of things to think about: audience demographics, presentation time, presentation type, how to best engage (typically adults) with the material. These are, after all, difficult concepts to process, but what really is important is not the content but the walk away. What will the audience remember?
Renay is pretty used to being the only paraeducator at conferences. There are conferences geared to paraeducators (CSEA Paraeducator’s Conference in California, specific to the districts that have union representation and wish to educate their teams, and then there is the biannual Paraeducator’s Conference on the National level), but they don’t talk about the expanse of the special education world.
There are many parts, most often we’ve lumped them together as ‘teacher’, ‘paraeducator’, and then ‘not either of those two’. But there are specialists.
- Advocates: folks who have been there, seen that, and are helping districts and parents work to a student’s best outcome in pursuit of their education
- OT: Occupational Therapists, folks who understand sensory needs for students. Additionally, OTs address how the mechanics of the human body affect the behavior of some students when doing activities like typing, writing, or other fine motor coordination
- PT: Physical Therapists, folks who work with students who have specific needs with regards to stretching or other gross coordination. Often can work with APE.
- AT: Assistive Technology advisors, folks who understand technology and how to help students have access to do activities. This can be in the form of a switch to operate say a blender in Home Ec or a tablet or computer to communicate.
- Behaviorists: folks who understand how to read observations of students and their reactions to consequences. They help build strategies for students to buy into their education through many different sources.
- APE: Adapted Physical Education, folks who take students to their general education PE class and help the student with learning physical skills at their ability level to become better coordinated in doing physical activities. Often can work with PT.
- Mental Health: Someone trained who helps students meet their emotional needs. This is typically a licensed therapist who helps to build trust and work with the student’s needs to be addressed to stay mentally healthy.
- SLP: A person who is a Speech and Language Therapist. Not only does an SLP address the way someone may speak, they also help students navigate their communication devices (both technology and low tech), learn social skills to better connect with peers in school, or decode some things that are typically found in the domain of English Language Arts.
All of these other folks, aren’t ‘extras’ or truly ‘other’. They get to work and advocate for a student just like everyone else. With direct exclusion to Mental Health and some of the work a PT may do with a student, most of these ‘other folks’ can push in and help a student in the natural setting of their classroom or observe and make corrections to help the student access the most of their education.
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.