We were wandering through a store the other day and all signs pointed to back-to-school sales. There is a certain amount of educator joy walking by notebook paper, pens, and markers. But it makes one face the truth that perhaps there might be a limit to the future of traditional back to school materials. The majority of last year, even for some students, was distance learning. Returning to school meant that less materials could be used – especially materials that were traditionally shared. But now a new year is about to start off, or has started for some students already.
What can we expect?
If you are in a state that has mandated masks for students: you’re still going to need a mask daily. And perhaps earlier in the summer we collectively had conversations about feeling different about masks at secondary than elementary, but most definitely at elementary and younger where students are not old enough as a whole to be vaccinated and might have contact with adults with high risk or even younger siblings at home. Why should we care?
It has been painfully evident that schools are important to communities. Not just for services for students, but as a vehicle for connectivity for children.
With this in mind, the new recognition purpose of school: to connect individuals and build the community. And this matters even more for students with disabilities. And we want to state perhaps the most important fact: it is never too late to build that community with students. To value the purpose of school.
And what about academics?
Academics is important. However, oddly, when we talked to Renay about the phrase ‘learning loss’, Renay says that she doesn’t believe in ‘learning loss’. But that is also the truth of special education—we meet the students where they are and this includes their academic journeys. So in Renay’s mind, we are not dealing with loss as much as shift in expectation. Where we might have expected that certain benchmarks for a student in skills, we might find ourselves supporting more emerging skills. And while special educators and paraeducators are ready, general education might not. So, providing scaffolds for not only the students but also for the general educators to help this unusual pathway we will experience as professionals.
This takes the whole support ant
Starting off on the right foot
Building your team starts early in the process. Not just thinking about schedules but how to provide access for paraeducators to attend any retreat or early staff meeting. Just to set the tone of being one giant community.
And if you were wondering…
Renay has a computer, a granola bar, a notebook, and a favorite pen.
Do you have any comments about this month’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 providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.