Renay is off in a corner making up a math project that she thinks may work for something she will share soon. But how busy she has been has made us appreciate something more this week. There are many things we’ve said multiple ways, but we need to keep saying them. We really need you all to hear the words: students have things going on and veteran educators need to let the new educators learn and grow with support.
First is that everyone has something going on. What we do not see with a student, all those emotions, things they think about when they are not concentrating, those things they come with the student. We’ve said a lot of about students who have trauma in their lives and we recognize that educators may feel helpless with that student needing help. But more resources exist now than ever. More schools are trauma informed, and have crisis responders within the district. Not every student will let adults know and not all adults on a campus know exactly what is transpiring. Choose kindness, even when it drives you nuts. Yes, you can set boundaries, but choose to be kind even with your boundaries. “I prefer you use words appropriate for the classroom.” Or “I am a teacher, I am here to help guide you in the classroom, and I know you are having a difficult time, but everyone in class is expected to take turns right now.”
Secondly, the reminder that even veterans need to learn a new trick. It is flat out intimidating to walk in as a new staff member teacher or otherwise, and not know what questions to ask. Veteran staff are often issued to newer teachers, and there can be some growing pains.
- Watch then react. Some teachers are not bothered by some things some students do. The student that needs to get up and move and pace in the back of the classroom? That’s normal to them. That ticking sound the student makes? Not a big deal.
- Be willing to learn from them. Sure the way someone else taught this topic was really useful. Or that lab is great. Or a very inconvenient way of graphing but it works for most of the class. The things they bring up and have the student do, even as a new teacher, might actually catch the student you’ve worked with for years.
- If it is bad, let them know privately. Not in front of students. And never complain about any teaching adult or educating adult on campus to another student. It’s really unprofessional.
- If they take you to task, don’t offer professional criticism again. Be cautious. They may not be used to working with another adult in their room at the same time.
- If you can’t stand being in the room with them, see if you can switch out with someone else. Get out of the professional relationship if you can. If you cannot, remember the next point…
- Believe in the new teacher in the same way you believe in your students’ capacity to learn. Some teachers come to education and they have thousands of hours of working with people with disabilities. Some teachers come to education and they have had an uncle or a brother with a disability. And some teachers have only had that one class they took that one time and the notes were recycled the second they were done with the class. But they will learn to work with the students with disabilities. And they will even love some. Give it time.
It has been a busy month. October is a perfect time to take stock of all that the year has yet to offer. And duck: because grades are coming. If not they’ve already arrived.
Before we go…
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.