Returning From Summer
We are honored to be back. But we need to let our regular readers know that ParaEducate is undergoing some structural changes. We are going to post on Thursdays we know, but after the Beginning of the Year check-ins, we’re likely to cut back on our weekly posts. Part of the reason: the team has different demands, and the other part, because of the summer we’ve had this year, we are publishing our new book later than usual so we would like the time to complete and make the book finalized. We thank our followers for understanding while we make these temporary changes.
Speaking of Returning…
We’re back! We know many districts have already started their academic formal year. We publish the blog during the regular academic school year on Thursdays in North America.
Passion (for education)
The word “passion” has come up a lot lately in some conversations. Success comes through passion—love for the process of education. Without passion, life simply is. And Renay can count the number of teachers she feels are successful because of their passion for teaching.
But paraeducators are often not passionate people. They fall into the education world sometimes on purpose but a handful fall into education by accident. And it is passion that may keep them there.
Passion is different for every professional. Sometimes it’s honest caring and kindness for students and other times passion is a lot harder to discern.
Passion is nebulous to some educators. But it has clear boundaries. Passion is more about acceptance of the tasks at hand and not the fear of drudgery, though drudgery is expected from time to time. It’s an adult making progress in smaller increments with students that may not be expected. Passion very simply is knowing that your job is to give and give a little bit more, even when it isn’t asked of you.
We will say that many educators give a lot, and then give that much more. And we know it can lead to burn out. But if you have passion, you know that your reason for being there is always going to keep you returning.
New Year, New Start
While we have you here, we would like to remind folks to make it clear to students, especially students with behaviors that often net the student a visit to disciplinary channels that every year is an entirely new start for that student. We do know that behaviors follow patterns, but privately talking to the student before they even set foot that every day they have many choices to make that we hope that student makes the choices that help keep the student in the class, engaged with their peers, and making academic progress as well as social progress.
We Get A Lot of Push Back Sometimes
It isn’t just behaviors, we also connect with maybe a student can try and read a very short paragraph aloud in class. Even with general education teacher support. This usually makes some of our students unhappy, being held accountable in class. But it is also a moment to give the student a chance to realize that they have learned something over the days they’ve been in class.
As an educator working with a student with a disability, it is all too easy to walk in that first day and look at those early assignments and state right away, “[The student] is not doing [the assignment].” Try a little bit, even if you’re sitting right there with the student. Back away when they manage to put their name on the paper. See if peer cues get the student’s attention. Give the student some space.
- Yes, even if they run away.
- Yes, even if they have a health concern.
- Yes, even if you still don’t know a lot about them.
We said space. Not leave the student and go to a whole other job. And while they have space, you should be observing, waiting to see where frustration starts to peek, what skills the student relies upon to try and attempt the more difficult process. Space also is the time to think when they need to process. And yes, the students will make mistakes.
Let the 2019-2020 academic year be the year of space and mistakes, and new starts. If you’re a new paraeducator, welcome. If you’re a veteran, welcome. We are a resource for all.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? 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 during the academic school year on Thursdays, unless a holiday. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.