Need To Know

We had thought about taking this week off and then we thought better of it. The observed holiday of Martin Luther King Jr Day is a pretty important day, not just because of his ideals that he shared on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. What do we need to know to be better educators in the face of ethnic diversity and experiences educators may have little understanding of?

Heroes and Heroines

February and March are major ethnic celebratory months; February being African American History Month and March being Women’s History Month. If you are wondering, Latin American History month is the latter part of September through mid-October and Asian American History month is in May, Disability Awareness Months happen all through the year, but also has a focus in October for many disabilities.

When choosing a list of individuals to explore with students, certainly it is quite easy to pick out the big names—Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington, or President Obama. But those names for less major contributors: Katherine Johnson, Bessie Coleman, Benjamin Banneker, take a little bit of research and are often not as attractive because of the research required to make those historical figures attractive.

In our observations it always feels easy to grab the big name for our students with disabilities. After all, which names will the student hear more of their entire life? That they will hear the other names in a presentation the following week or so. But what about student choice? That presenting a student a series of names that they may not have a connection to sometimes might be worth the energy of helping students see more individuals than they are used to hearing about. Sometimes for students the process and building an opportunity of connection is as important as the individuals to know about.

Sometimes for students the process and building an opportunity of connection is as important as the individuals to know about.

ParaEducate

What You Might Not Know…

Be truthful to yourself if you are unaware about issues surrounding one specific ethnic group. Learning how to participate in hard conversations is a part of being an educator and learning about the world that you might not participate in.

The other part, try to connect those individuals all year long and not just during those special months. It’s convenient to focus on other individuals during the special months, but having a series of folks that you are aware of in all industries is as important.

A Thought…

There was an online discussion Renay came across recently about the importance of knowledge on the part of educators. And there was a mention of the importance of being informed about the world and events beyond the classroom. One person in the conversation mentioned that their pursuit of education started with one of their instructors as they started their credential program mentioned that they should read the news, at least two different sources.

Paraeducators, unfortunately have many more demands on their time – like second or third jobs—than some student teachers. But the principle remains the same. Find something to educate yourself about. It might not be news, and frankly, with the national news the last few weeks, maybe a little less news might make one feel better about sleeping at night. But reading different fictional books, especially current fictional books that teenagers might find interesting, or books about the history of the city or town you live in. Part of the job is to keep learning. Some of us come by this more easily than others. But living on the knowledge you know is not enough to stay ready in a job that is perhaps one of the most demanding you will ever face. Having a focus beyond knowing your student helps keep things in life in perspective. Not just for yourself but how to present things to your students. It might be difficult to add in ‘one more’ thing, but there are perhaps more ways than ever before to learn about the wider world even if you do have multiple jobs.

Part of the job is to keep learning. Some of us come by this more easily than others.

ParaEducate

Some suggestions:

  • Start small. Five minutes a week. Maybe ten or fifteen for a partial podcast while you drive between jobs.
  • Share during lunch with your coworkers something you learned that week. If you don’t have a coworker who you can share, try someone you live with at home or even talking to a plant. It matters, trust us on that one.
  • If it is not sticking: find something else that does keep your attention. Don’t go looking for trivia level knowledge, just get your attention to make you wonder. If you wonder, your curiosity will follow.

One More Thing

We just found out: Renay will be at the first digital Cal-TASH in March. Can’t wait to see you all there. Want to know more about Cal-TASH? Check it out.


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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The Day After…

We wish we could take credit for the title this week, but we caught a re-tweet from Mr. Bigham, a Teacher of the Year from Oregon in 2014. “How many Day Afters have you had?” And it stunned us into silence first. And then, Renay started counting. In seventeen years working with students, there had been sixteen, but fortunately, only five had been national level. At least one was a national landmark. Some of those day afters are easier than others. The day after has implications. For the rest of us, though, the world still demands us to figure out how best to teach Least Squares Revision Line and how chemical bonds form.

Normally, the first week we get back from break, we think about the things we would like to do that we have not yet done across the entire year. How to better reach out and connect with more people, how to continue our long standing mission to train other paraeducators. However, this week, we cannot ignore what happened. We cannot sit idly by.

We have commented on political views as historic moments in time that we need to share with our students. What transpired in the halls and the chambers of Congress in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, was indeed historic. And there was a day after. We have tackled hard conversations with our students before. This was going to be no different in some respects. In others, it has not changed. And that part continues to be hard. Not just for the students who are different because of their beliefs, but for the students who are already anxious about the world as it is.

When we talk about hard things with all students—not just students with disabilities, we know we adults have our own emotions we need to wrestle with. Some of us are really good at dealing with them. Others of us are not. Some folks do not know how to judge when they are in over their head in the middle of difficult conversations. It does help if a history teacher or a more senior teacher takes the lead in the conversations that are difficult.

When we talk about hard things with all students—not just students with disabilities, we know we adults have our own emotions we need to wrestle with.

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Whether the conversation is the loss of life, a political event, or a celebration, hard conversations start with a few ground rules.

  1. Everyone who wants to should be able to say something.
  2. Those that do not want to participate even in the middle can leave politely without judgement.
  3. Just because you leave does not mean you did not have a voice and certainly you will not be unlooked after by adults on school grounds.
  4. Adults check their feelings and can leave the room as well.
  5. If you are cornered by a student, ask the student why they are asking. Help the student look up answers to the questions they have about the situation. Use resources provided by the district.

Perhaps now, more than ever, we, Americans, feel more. We have had a run of years of high emotions and now with a pandemic, some adults may feel a little more uncertain. As an adult working in a school, the surprise lesson for adults: It is okay to not know the answers. Modeling to students that there are ways that are appropriate to respond to major events is more important than ever.

It is okay to not know the answers. Modeling to students that there are ways that are appropriate to respond to major events is more important than ever.

ParaEducate

One of the things we would like to give a shout out: we did see a teacher who asked the class via distance learning for a quick write. Students were asked to leave their answers on their work they would turn in later for the teacher to look at. Students were asked if they felt they could share publicly with the entire class or even privately with the teacher directly. And that makes a difference to the students. There are some small benefits to being able to chat directly with the teacher for some students.

And just in case, as an adult in a school, you did not hear this: It is all right to not know the answer. It is all right to have emotions about the things that have transpired. You are in a unique position and this is all right to not be ready to talk about things directly. Take care of yourself. The students will follow your example.


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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There Goes Another Rubber Tree Plant..

Last week, one of Renay’s coworkers asked if anyone wanted a Rubber Tree Plant. Apparently, they can survive in Renay’s climate zone if they are kept indoors. And this coworker had an extra plant that needed a new home. But all Renay wanted to ask on Friday is if the plant came with an ant to move it from her co-worker’s house to its new location.

But even while the chuckle comes through, it made us wonder about the things that were important to moving rubber trees.

But even while the chuckle comes through, it made us wonder about the things that were important to moving rubber trees.

ParaEducate

Bet an Ant Can’t…

This past week, we had the honor of presenting with Supporting Inclusive Practices. It was a really fun presentation for us, we hoped if you attended you enjoyed being with us. We had all sorts of people from up and down the state of California. Hopefully, in the future, we will be together again soon.

High Hopes

Vaccines are beginning to arrive for health care workers in California. While the pandemic is far from over, this is a step in the right direction for most of the world. As the infection numbers strain health care workers’ ability to do their jobs, we want to thank the front-line workers in health facilities of all sorts knowing that the situation at hand was never explained in any textbook or any class.

With the vaccine being available, some folks will feel more at an ease returning to high-capacity venues. One of those high-capacity venues is of course schools. Now, some schools have been back for months, let alone weeks, but this will mean more schools can return to life as we know it.

Speaking of Hope, for those of you who celebrate Hanukah, the lights remind us of the importance of hope and connection to the things we share as a community. More than ever, it is important that we share our connections, even though we are being asked to stay further away. If you are able, supporting a food bank or another community outreach will help thousands of folks. If you cannot donate money, perhaps organizing folks to help distribute needed supplies to others will not go unnoticed. Checking in on your neighbors who are not as able to get out is also helpful.

Before that last bell this week,

Remember that everyone on staff is doing what they can to support everyone else. Thank a coworker for their support. Thank the families who are helping their students stay engaged in academics. Thank you to those who know that distance learning is not for them, but are working through the challenges just the same. It has been much clearer that inclusion is a team effort and that right now, the team really does include family at home as much as it has ever had.

For the Stars

ParaEducate will return for 2021 on January 11th and will remain on Mondays for the remainder of the academic year for 2020-2021.


ParaEducate will return January 11th, 2021. 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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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Eyes On the Prize

When Renay was in college, sometimes an upper class student would wander by Renay’s desk that first year and whisper, ‘eyes on the prize’. It was an odd mantra to a first year student in architecture whose personal goals were squarely centered on no longer being the student who managed to glue themselves to their desk. But that ‘prize’, be it vacation, dead week, or simply the grade they were working towards. Finding something to focus on and no matter how you got there would mean that you have come through on the other side.

We have rarely spoken about Renay’s journey in Architecture school, but this year reminds us a lot of the work that has gone into growth and maintenance of schools on Distance Learning and Hybrid. But here we are just the same. It is time to put our eyes on the prize. Certainly there is a lot less gluing oneself to a stool or a desk involved—at least we hope. But time to pick something in the near future to fix on and look forward to the goal.

But that ‘prize’, be it vacation, dead week, or simply the grade they were working towards.

ParaEducate

Why haven’t you talked about going back full time?

There are hundreds of students who are not being served by districts at any point on a computer for a variety of reasons. Some simply do not have technology. Others do not have supportive families. And many others are just not students who are finding connecting to peers and teachers online useful. The solution of distance learning for most students means we do have to return to traditional education.

One of the honest reasons we haven’t talked about going back, we, as a society, do not have a complete understanding of long term health outcomes for people who recover from this disease. And to be fair: it may be a decade before we really understand COVID-19. The other piece, despite the concerns we have for people with extra health concerns when it comes for vaccines, we at ParaEducate believe in modern medicine and support the health care workers.

We would love nothing more than to be back in a classroom, however the pace we have been teaching at cannot continue. We need to address the return to school back from a social-emotional standing. For many students, returning to school will be met with mixed messages and everyone will be at a different place.

And when we finally do see our students, they will have to learn how to be students again.  It sounds like it’s easy enough to do, but to do it right and to do the justice we need to get our students to turn around is a lot of long term work and we have to lead by example. Unfortunately, we have met many educators who do not share this concern that we can just pick up and run from the second we have students return to school. And for some students, that may well work, but for the whole student to feel connected, we need to spend some time talking about that unexpected gap year we have all just experienced.

And when we finally do see our students, they will have to learn how to be students again. It sounds like it’s easy enough to do, but to do it right and to do the justice we need to get our students to turn around is a lot of long term work and we have to lead by example.

ParaEducate

But Wait, what is the Prize?

Well right now, it is the weekend. But we know winter break is nearly here.

It is letting go things that escape our notice and not beating ourselves over it

It is enjoying the time we have with our people who we are close to.

It is being that voice on the other end of the phone that is telling someone else whatever it is , will be okay.

It is opening up the break out room and seeing that students have messages of ‘hello’ for every teacher every period.

It is hearing a voice of a student asking for help on a math problem.

It is knowing there is a repetition to the progress we are going to make, no matter how small that progress is made.

It is knowing that we lay our faith in hope as the time of the year dictates.

ParaEducate will sign off next week for 2020. It has been an original year to say the least and that one is most definitely in the history books.

We hope you and your loved ones are safe and we at ParaEducate continue to implore you to follow your local government instructions not just for yourself but for your community.

And while we are at it: Eyes on the Prize.

If you have a moment…

If you missed the memo: Renay will be presenting this week for Supporting Inclusive Practices. We are highly honored and look forward to meeting you all there. If you’re interested in registering for this free event, check out this link.

One more thing

For anyone, the Holidays are challenging. If you need support please do not hesitate to share the numbers or call Suicide Prevention Hotline.  Help is available in sign language and in Spanish.

1-800-273-8255


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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Seasons of Thanks

It might be hard to remember that feeling of gratitude that happened in May and June as all the kids perhaps drove by to get their diplomas, the way communities bonded and developed a new tradition to help build in thanks for the way education rallied and helped communities have a chance to recover. But here we are, in the season that begins with thanks. And we might be tired of waiting for whatever ‘end’ of COVID restrictions might be. But whatever your community is using, please keep using it. Please stay safe.

Let’s start with some thank you

To the parents, to the spouses, to the families of first responders, especially our medical workers, Thank you. While we educators might not know the cycles of challenges that are specifically faced by the medical community, we know that not only professional duty kept you going out and helping all the members of our community, you were bound to see this through. And at best, we are only half way through in most areas.

To the students, for our youngest students who have never known any other education, we thank you for being brave enough to keep trying. To our older students we thank you for knowing that this is temporary, that something like the school you have experienced in years past will come again. For the students who are stepping up, we thank you. To the students who are still frightened by this change, it will be okay, we are still here. For the students who feel they are not doing much, we are working on it.

To the families, you might not be thrilled with distance learning. You might be more worried about what your student is not able to do any longer. But what has generally been said, even your student with a disability, is not any more behind than their academic peers. Everyone is experiencing the challenges of Distance Learning or Hybrid, or full return with modifications. For the families who made decisions to stay home, we know much you agonized over those choices. For those families who made decisions to send their children to Hybrid or full return, we know that you too may have agonized over those choices.

To the educators and their families. The choices of returning to work or not is quite challenging. It is not just about the test of patience that has been laid at the feet of educators. For those who have started to only scratch the surface of ‘figuring it out’, for those who feel confident. To those who have spent extra hours helping coworkers. You understand the challenges that we are facing. You understand that the extra work that has gone into making things happen. You understand that the exhaustion that has reached a new level. You understand that things are not as easy as they should be. But nothing ever worth teaching ever has been.

You understand that things are not as easy as they should be. But nothing ever worth teaching ever has been.

ParaEducate

It is not easy. Nothing ever worthwhile should be easy. But we are continuing along with whatever version of school. We wish everyone well. We wish for happier times ahead.

Seasonal Thanks

We will be off next week for the holiday of Thanksgiving in the United States. We know this holiday may look different compared to previous years, but it means all the same this year. We remember the family who have shared and sacrificed. We remember the family that call and ask us every day. We remember to give thanks to our friends and allies who make the challenges of being away for so long a little bit easier to accept. If you are able, please contribute financially to a local food bank or shelter. And know that next year, will be a celebration to remember.


ParaEducate will be off next week for United States Thanksgiving. 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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Campus, Disabilities, Distance Learning, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, parents, Professionalism, Reframing, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on Seasons of Thanks

Hard. Good. Essential

It probably should not be a surprise that Renay was riveted to the television, like generations before her for the moon landing, for the Challenger Explosion, September 11th. And now, a presidential election that has broken a glass ceiling– a Vice-President-Elect who shares the idea of mixed heritage with Renay. A president-elect speech that addressed people with disabilities. With an incoming first lady who knows the world of education.

History favors the victors. But now it’s time to get to the real work: remembering the importance of community. No one wins until we all are working together to move the country forward.

Hard Work

We have never really discussed the tides of the week. But with Distance Learning, the week takes on a different tenor.

Mondays are going to be Mondays. You need the schedule of homework for the week, you need to have an idea of the hand outs, you need to get ahead in the reading, you make your game plans of how to help your students. You might make digital visual schedules today. And you have got to get into the digital classes and capture the essence of what the general education teacher is providing. And you are doing this without the walking across campus. You are probably doing it between juggling children of your own on their schedule, hopefully in your district, but it is just as likely not to have children in your district of employment.

Tuesdays are hopefully the same as Monday so the work you put in Monday isn’t as difficult as it possibly can be. And maybe the hours are longer or shorter. You might have meetings today. You might have them later in the week.

Wednesday, you think you’ve climbed that hill, you know the work gets harder from here. You know you have quizzes piling, you have work that needs to explain. And Thursday, you feel you have the world at your fingers.

But Friday. Friday makes hard harder. And everyone’s nerves are frayed. No matter how important something is, nothing should matter that much. And yet: it still does. It is a work day.

The point of this list really is to look at the pacing of yourself during the week. Take care of yourself during the day. Reach out to coworkers if you need support.

The point of this list really is to look at the pacing of yourself during the week. Take care of yourself during the day. Reach out to coworkers if you need support.

Paraeducate

Good Work

There is good work. And it comes between black squares with names, and no response, even on the full class chat. We know that staff is working hard with the skills they have and the skills that can transfer to an online setting, not all the skills do.

We thank you for your efforts in continuing to connect with students, no matter how they come to school.

Essential Work

Education is essential work. Getting information imparted is only a part of the equation. Facilitating friendships is also essential work.

  • Improving relationships from adult to student, student to student, is essential work.
  • Helping students see through the chaos is essential work.
  • Building foundational skills is essential work.
  • Making progress is essential work.
  • Connecting with families is essential work.
  • Making opportunities to build on community within school is essential work.
  • Remember that the school is a community.

If all these things come into play, then school makes progress with a variety of students.

We model. We build trust. We carry on. This is the land education was built on. And we will continue to do so.


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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Traditions

It is the beginning of November and weeks and days are pretty much blending together. Grades are showing up for most students by this point or they are about to. And in the world of technology that now dominates the educational landscape like some Science Fiction novel, to be certain, students are not necessarily thinking about the things that are not happening.

But Renay just came off two major personal holidays this week—Dia de Los Muertos and All Soul’s Day. While Renay admits that they aren’t major holidays she shares with many people normally, there is a profound sense of sadness to her that this is an event now that feels even more isolating though she knows many people celebrate. And through November and December are more holidays that are filled with deeper traditions, and the point is to gather and share the best of the year.

At school, traditions are a bit less personal. Right now, the missing costumes related events, possibly Homecoming for students who have recently graduated from high school, and special gatherings for parents and their children.

Opportunity does arise to make new traditions. Renay had an amazing amount of fun last week during her school’s spirit week. The winner: bring your pet to class day. In a class of students who would never turn on their camera, their pet being welcomed brought half the class willing to take a yearbook screenshot with their pet. Some pets, mostly cats, were not thrilled, but many cats have been champions—one student even left out an ottoman for their cat. The cat was most pleased with this offering as their throne for the day and was happy to nap there next to their student person. The close runner up: Students wearing costumes on Friday. By the way– Renay was “Distance Learning Mission Control”.

And that is the tradition to celebrate: the things we can find now. The smiles on our student’s faces, in their voices, their progress they are making no matter what. There are going to be the students that we worry about—any educator would be worried about any student. Those of us heading into Hybrid are also worried. There are things that are emotionally taxing, the roving that we are not doing, and the speed at which our lives as educators have been way too busy alternating with way too lax in other ways are also challenges. And if we don’t have those meetings with each other, we forget that causal meetings, meetings without intent, provide challenges to our professional growth and chances to learn what the other brings. In summary: we need each other in the education field more than ever.

Opportunity does arise to make new traditions. Renay had an amazing amount of fun last week during her school’s spirit week.

ParaEducate

The traditions to keep

It would be time to always assess what we need to do to be successful. What did work? What will the students remember of their education at this moment in time? Are we providing everything we can as educators to be the guide through the journey. What motivated the students? What brought them some happiness? What did they learn?

And then you take a second, maybe even another second, because these aren’t necessarily concepts students with disabilities share easily with others. But we will tell you that find the joy in the day. That student who needed a million prompts to do one task: he just did a partial task without a prompt. The student that makes you smile has learned to use that smile to make other students smile. The student that is helpful to others has continued to be helpful to others. If as an educator, you are not finding these moments fulfilling, it is all right. There are many things demanding your attention and you are not able to keep track of all of those things right now. But know and have faith that these events are occurring.

One more thing…

Renay was just tapped for something rather exciting coming up. We cannot wait to share with you.

And if you don’t know: We are nearly a month away from sending Renay virtually to SIP. Haven’t signed up yet? It is free and it is centered in California. They have two series, this one is geared just for paraeducators. We are excited to share our work with SIP.


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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Right From The Top

We had waffled about our topic this week. Probably a symptom of our mid-October doldrums, but we were mindlessly scrolling through social media when we came across a title of an article about administrators and their relationship with teachers. And that’s exactly what we were facing right now.

While the original article has little bearing on the relationship of an administrator and a paraeducator, we thought we’d look at this relationship.

In general, most districts the official supervisor for any given campus is held in the authority of the principal and/or vice principal. However, special education falls under two places (once under special education and once on the campus the services are housed). This often creates an interesting set of conflicts especially if a staff member was reassigned by the district—usually citing the number of needed minutes for students IEP to be cost effective. There are other issues as well.

Paraeducators, are also under the direction of anyone with a teaching credential. At that ‘moment’ for that snapshot in time: you are there with that person trying to figure out the best way to support any given student.

That is technically way too many people supervising one person in pursuit of educating three to five students at any given time. Especially when teachers technically only answer to one person, again in special education perhaps three entities (the family of the student, the general education administrator, and the special education administrator).

But really, what we need to tell you it’s not really that complicated in the minute in the moment, as you are going through your day at any given campus/device to support the students you support.

But how does an administrator support a paraeducator?

  1. Remember that they are on your campus and serve as another set of eyes on campus. They count as a person in the room for hybrid and small cohorts. They aren’t ‘just a service’.
  2. Remember that each paraeducator and their specific job duties are as unique as the student they support. Some students need direct one on one attention, but is their paraeducator giving the student a chance to try things on their own? Is that paraeducator aware of how the social interactions of a group with their student are playing out?
  3. With distance learning: do you know when they get their breaks? Did you know the schedule has the paraeducator on for five hours straight with no break? When are the department meetings occurring? Did you know the team is meeting/not meeting/meeting more than once a week officially?
  4. Find out from the case managers how they are getting timely information about changes that are going on in classes. This goes for virtual education and traditional education and everything in between. When a parent complains, this will help sort things out for everyone.
  5. Find out things about your paraeducator. What do they like? What was the last book they read? What their general education class preferences are and why? Do they have another job? [Honestly: the answer is probably yes, and find out how that affects their work-life balance.]
  6. Realizing that some paraeducators will need more guidance than others. It is all too easy to hope the paraeducator will ‘learn on the job’, and some of the best do. The others need to be explicitly told ‘yes’ or ‘no.
  7. Let the paraeducator know you are there for them as much as you are for the teaching staff. Come in to classes, watch how they work with students, find out what they know and do not know. Be ready to understand that paraeducator and their student relationships.

With distance learning: do you know when they get their breaks? Did you know the schedule has the paraeducator on for five hours straight with no break? When are the department meetings occurring? Did you know the team is meeting/not meeting/meeting more than once a week officially?

ParaEducate

Not ever paraeducator has aspirations to be a teacher. We need to statement this to be clear. But many could be good teachers with the right coaching and guidance. Administrators taking advantage and learning to guide all the members on their campus to being the best staff possible is not just for the teachers, though teachers are always going to be central to the administrative duties.


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Adminstrators, Campus, Distance Learning, paraeducators, Professionalism | Comments Off on Right From The Top

Turn This Thing Around

Grades have come out for some students or are about to for others, depending on their age. But here we have a chance to look at what the students are doing (or not doing). And again, every year we sit and watch things unfold with students.

Now with students in more different places in their academics than ever, it will be quite a challenge in the coming months to get students to reach the same conclusions academically as we have had in the past.

But fortunately, we have resources for that.

  1. Start with “I don’t know that yet.” Getting students reoriented to being at school is important for all students. They are not going to remember everything they were trying to cram in since they started school.
  2. Have a plan to help people up. Maybe more brain breaks, maybe more processing time. These are going to be situations that are going to look different daily. Some students like routine. Some students like a novelty. Some students will act like this does not matter: it does. They’re just too cool to say so.
  3. For students who do not have families who are supportive of their academic progress, you get to be their sole cheerleader. This is hard. You will be separating out the push back you will invariably get from the mixed messages the student is trying to decipher in their life. Sometimes it will be you sitting in the void asking and begging for them to respond. Sometimes it will be you sitting by wondering where they stored all that information and they are just getting it out. And other times, you will wonder why you are trying. It is all right. You can do this. We know it makes a difference.

Remind students that they can change and make adjustments to how they perceive themselves and allow others to think about them. And this is hard, especially for students with disabilities. Many students understand they don’t understand things and are reluctant to share that they do not understand something. Reaching out in chat when a teacher is hammering the class for responses (even copied responses) is not exactly useful to keep up when the chat scrolling by.

Remind students that they can change and make adjustments to how they perceive themselves and allow others to think about them.

ParaEducate

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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in Distance Learning, Grades, Shutdown | Comments Off on Turn This Thing Around

It’s Time To Talk Of Other Things…

We thought we’d start addressing hybrid learning this week. We know many schools are beginning to start their process of preparing hybrid learning if they aren’t already there. However, we got a concern that came across Renay’s desk.

The concern might as well have been dancing with air horns tied to the feet. “Are paraeducators doing less in distance learning.”

We have to say, every single time someone asks Renay if she’s doing less, she laughs. Since the start of Distance Learning, Renay says it’s actually probable that her work load has doubled, her commute is now nearly only five minutes (the time it takes to boot up three different devices and make sure they are fully plugged in for the day.) Yes, Renay has four academic classes this ‘term’ right now. But the hours are the same. Renay still has to scramble to figure out how to do the work, provide support to students who are even less likely to ask or want support, and connect students to resources to make their education possible. Renay is online for nearly seven hours straight just for work. And that includes meetings, connecting with general education teachers, responding to email, writing modifications, and trying to figure out how to new distance learning options for a student might work differently.

Educators are constantly trying to improve things for as many students as possible. We believe that everyone on any given campus in any given current set up are spread exceedingly thin right now and that educators need support emotionally and professionally.

At ParaEducate, we are pretty certain there might be individuals across every district who are working less. And we don’t want to speculate why. We know the majority of staff in every campus are working their tails off trying to make distance learning work for as many students as possible.

We have to say, every single time someone asks Renay if she’s doing less [because of distance learning], she laughs.

ParaEducate

Let’s Play With a Cactus…

We have decided to start talking about things with regards to distance learning a little more strategically. For our first round, we look at using the cameras…

Cameras on or Cameras off?

Cameras onCameras Off
Statistically speaking: the student is more likely to be engaged in the work. Educators can ‘read’ the room, and adjust for students who need support  
Seeing peers: Older students have more ways of seeing their peers, younger students may not. Seeing the person, not just the name on the screen helps those students know things are ‘all right’.  
Provide equity: students who do not have equal access to quality internet are more likely to be able to stay on if more people’s cameras are off  
Emotional crutch: Not just for the student with known anxiety that sea of faces is hard to sort through.  
Provide students privacy: not all students know that their peers may be sharing a smaller space with four or five other siblings or cousins, or perhaps family friends. And especially for students who are in group homes. It’s different if you’re a friend. But a classroom is not a friendship. And certainly your teacher is not your friend.
Table looking at arguments for and against using cameras with students

Is there something we’ve forgotten in either category? We might not know all the benefits of either

We’re On Our Way…

It is October. It is one of the most celebrated months for disabilities.

Just take a look at a partial list here:

·  Antidepressant Death Awareness Month

·  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month

·  Blindness Awareness Month

·  Celiac Disease Awareness Month

·  Celiac Sprue Awareness Month

·  Dwarfism Awareness Month 

·  Dysautonomia Awareness Month

·  Dyslexia Awareness Month

·  Global ADHD Awareness Month

·  Global Diversity Awareness Month

·  Head Start Awareness Month

·  International Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)

·  Long-Term Care Planning Month

·  Lupus Awareness Month

·  Mental Illness Awareness Month

·  National Audiology Awareness Month

·  National Critical Illness Awareness Month

·  National Depression Education and Awareness Month

·  National Disability Employment Awareness Month

·  National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

·  National Learning and Development Month

·  National Sensory Awareness Month

·  National Service Dog Month

·  National Spina Bifida Awareness Month

·  National Stop Bullying Month

·  National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

·  Rett Syndrome Awareness Month

·  Spina Bifida Prevention Month

·  World Blindness Awareness Month

So while this is an impressive list, the real question is ‘what to do’ about the ‘Awareness’? Can I, as an individual, move to an action? Do I need to talk to other people more? Do I need to lobby my local elected officials to do more for people with disabilities? What can I do?

  1. Take time to learn how the students you work with have their disabilities affect them.
  2. Give the students you work with space to make mistakes
  3. Ask the student what they need before jumping in.

If you have not met a person with a specific disability, don’t worry. You may one day.

A Long Awaited Announcement

Renay is speaking in a Paraeducator series hosted by Supporting Inclusive Practices. They are a California group working on helping educators become more inclusive. We are very honored and excited to be connecting with many folks up and down the State of California.


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 herehereherehere, 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 the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in ADHD, Campus, Conferences, Disabilities, Distance Learning, Inclusion, Intellectual Disabilities, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Resources, Technology | Comments Off on It’s Time To Talk Of Other Things…