The suitcase is packed, the gear is ready, presentation all planned out. We’re heading out the door to Cal TASH 2019 today. We can’t wait the things we can potentially learn over the next forty-eight hours sends a bit of excitement. Of course it would be nice if our flight wasn’t delayed, but we know what awaits us at Cal TASH.
While we head out for all of these events, we are hearing about teams experiencing burn out. It is not uncommon this time of year to feel dragged over spikes in every single class. The majority of the United States is under several feet of snow, this is quite a challenge for many people, let alone families with members with disabilities. Everyone is in close quarters. There are more reasons to have behaviors that are not always pleasant.
But what to do about raising morale during this time of year?
- Remember to say ‘thank you’ on a regular basis. Coworkers and students. Say it for everything.
- Remember your work identity beyond that of working with students. At work, Renay doesn’t just randomly disappear for a few days at a time—she is sometimes called into other classes to help with technology problems. We know that there are many artists, readers, and those with thoughts who work with students and share their interests. We have staff who love to garden, staff who take an interest in outdoor hiking, staff who love sports, staff who are elite gamers online and off line, and many other interests. Share them with your coworkers.
- Visit the school library and wander the book shelves. Even if you are not a voracious reader, or consider yourself a reader at all, there is something very calming about reading book spines. You might even find a book that sparks your interest. You could connect with a student who is looking for a friend.
- This sounds crazy, we did talk about the weather being dangerous in some parts of the country, but if it safe, go outside. Get a little bit of sun. Watch the snow crumble around a fresh shoe print. Go back in, grab a warm cup of something you prefer. If you’re in a rainy area, hope for that break in the clouds, enjoy the way the rain and wind mix with the trees from the safety of inside the classroom.
- Take a moment to draw with students what the classroom would look like if you added a hamster tube around the room. Just let the students know that this will not be happening, but it is fun to think about. And it gives their mental squirrels a good place to be when things are not progressing the way we all think they should progress.
- Take breaks with your student. Ten problems accomplished? All right time for some wall push ups. Talk about the basketball game—it is February, what local basketball team is going where? Doesn’t matter college or professional. If you’re able, take a basketball out and get in 10 baskets each.
- Start small groups with three positive comments from everyone. We usually do this prompt with 3 positive comments about your weekend. Or three positive comments about our favorite video game. Just wrapping one’s mind around positivity helps.
- Use skill building to challenge each other. We often find typing games online (for free, there are many) and keep a list of scores with students. We find this gets some motivation in everyone and even reluctant participants find a bit of challenge in this. There are students from time to time who will blast out the competition, but for students who are starting to learn to type this may work with some.
But we’re really all about the ‘thank you’. Say it often enough and it will start making an impact.
A Random But Useful Side Note
We were also approached this week about a student. “They can do [thing academic or otherwise], but they don’t want to do that part when they are with me.”
There are a lot of reasons why a student will shut down. Sometimes, even when the student is viewed as capable, that there is something bigger that makes ‘one more thing’ a lot harder. It is okay to scale back sometimes to something that might be mildly age inappropriate. Cover the extra words so the student doesn’t have to sift through everything visually. Work for five minutes, get a short game. Do another activity that is not academically motivated. Go back a bit, build that rapport to let the student see you know they can do the things you really need to get to. Even in the middle of the year. Even with a student who you have known for a while. It will make all the difference and then progress can happen.
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.