Recap #caltash2018

Cal-TASH is home. Six years ago, Renay and Megan introduced ParaEducate to a Cal-TASH audience. So having skipped last year in favor of SXSWEdu 2017, we were glad to be back with a very familiar venue and familiar faces.

One of the things we like about Cal-TASH is not that we’re fighting for inclusion, we can spend the message about successes with inclusion and how to bring the world of inclusion for students in K-12 even bigger than just their campus. Of course there’s always the Cal-TASH Bash, an open dance that bridges the evening between the first and second night. It’s a great way to network and enjoy the company of many folks. Admittedly, we typically don’t spend a lot of time at the Cal-TASH Bash, but it is a nice event that is low intensity to meet up and discuss things that are not about anything serious and to get to know other people that come to Cal-TASH and hear stories.

The opening keynote had a great discussion about housing issues for adults with disabilities. We had been aware it had been a growing issue in California, and that steps need to be taken to make sure that people with disabilities are included when addressing housing needs for communities. And with that closing, the sessions were open for two days of a full schedule.

4 Things You Can Do Right Now To Stop Disabling Your Child or Student

Adiba Nelson is a energetic speaker. She is a parent of a child with cerebral palsy. Her daughter did not come, but it is clear through Adiba’s story about raising her daughter the past eight years that her daughter is a very accepted member of her school.

Adiba has also realized there is a lack of books of people of color with disabilities. She is the author of ClaraBelle Blue, a book for young readers about a girl who has adventures but happens to need to use a wheel chair. She also made the book available for purchase at the conference. We were glad to meet ClaraBelle Blue.

From the Amazon description: “”Meet ClaraBelle Blue” is the first book in the ClaraBelle series, and introduces you to a snazzy little preschooler with major moxie – and a hot pink wheelchair!  In “Meet ClaraBelle Blue”, you see ClaraBelle face the naysayers in her class, and show them all the things she CAN do, and how LIKE THEM she really is, regardless of her challenges. Keep with the series to see what sorts of “adventures” ClaraBelle gets herself into!”

Inclusive Education Speakeasy

On the schedule, there were several events we wanted in the next session but the other sessions were full and then we found that this was also the session that held the Speakeasy. We were introduced to them two years ago and the Speakeasy was a wonderful session this time around as well.

We share strategies to help other teachers connect and we will be working with many teachers over a year sharing modifications and working to help support the teachers over the state of California continue to provide inclusive opportunities for students.

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Early Childhood Special Education Students and Families

Diana Montejo and Saili Kulkarni shared their research from Cal State Domingus Hills about finding research to help support strategies in education for young children (Preschool-Pre-K). The rake away: there needs to be more research done in this field. Especially since resources for families who are culturally diverse (Immigrants, English Language Learners, homelessness, distrust of authority, and students with disabilities) are at a premium. Barriers are immense and difficult for families who may be culturally likely to believe doctors and teachers without question.

Implementing Emergent Literacy Instructions for students with Disabilities in General Education Classrooms

Pam Hunter, Kathleen Mortier, Damielle Fleming, and Lakshmi Balasubramanian shared a program that connected with many students improving over the course of a year with direct fidelity to a reading program. Videos of an inclusive model of learning to read helped engage many students who were all between kindergarten to the second grade both with and without disabilities. It was quite a successful program.

The participants used the program with direct fidelity, but the data was still being understood at the time, so we’re hoping to revisit these students in a few years and see how they are doing.

How to Select and Use E-Books to Support Students with Reading Difficulties

Dr. Sung Hee Lee from Cal-State Fullerton shared some information we were not surprised. Since 2010, the number of kids that have read a digital book has gone up from 25% to 46%. E-books, especially for students with disabilities, and targeting young children is very popular with many specific groups. Partially because e-books offer audio recordings, some more human sounding than previous generations of electronic readers, access to resources like dictionaries, note taking, and highlighting. Dr. Lee shared with us three other subscription based offerings: Raz-Plus, Tumble Book Library, and Project Gutenberg.

University-School Partnerships for Inclusive Practices

Amy Hanreddy and Kathy Peckham-Hardin were pretty much the reason to attend this session. Both professors with Cal State Northridge, Amy and Kathy’s work with LAUSD since 1996 to help make the district more inclusive has helped give many students with disabilities success. Specifically, with the Chandler Learning Academy, representatives from this program spoke about their successes, students, teachers, and administrator have participated and worked on raising quality of education to move to a more collaborative model to support all learners. And we know it works. We’ve seen it first hand. But the road was long and still there is more to go.

If LAUSD can become inclusive, there’s no excuse for other districts in other states.

State of School Inclusion in California: Why do School Districts Vary so Greatly?

This session was highly interesting. Brought to us by the Chapman University of Policy and Planning, they took a GIS model (Geographic Information System) to map inclusion for students identified with Intellectual Disabilities or with Autism [We know that these identifications can be found in one student, but the data doesn’t reflect that for this particular research] and their districts which were asked to participate and look at students with the specific disabilities by participation of at least 80% of their school day. Of the 241 school districts that were offered a chance to participate, 32% returned information.

While we did take pictures of the maps offered, we are going to refrain from sharing them here. But what we saw, shocked us as a whole for a moment, and then we weren’t surprised by the results either. We know that California is better than some areas about providing inclusion. The areas that did not light up as densely or did not have data can reflect that there may not be inclusion or they chose not to participate. Imagine comparing this data across the country. Realizing there are a lot of factors specific to California that can account for the data too, we highly suggest you find out more about the Third Annual Disability Summit at Chapman University.

The official release of the data from Chapman University will be on May 7, 2018 at the Marybelle and Sebasian P. Musco Center for the Arts. Please register with chapman.edu/tpi for more information.

The Rigorous and Accessible Middle School Inclusion Classroom

Our last session, our last moments for Cal-TASH 2018. And we were not disappointed. From Camino Nuevo Charter, a collection of schools in Los Angeles, the MacArthur Park campus is a charter that made inclusion an priority and they demonstrated the ways they accomplished it. Included in their campus came a consoler and they are on their fifth year of inclusion.

Demographics at this campus the majority of the campus is Hispanic, the majority of the campus is socially economically disadvantaged, with 13% of their nearly 600 students identified with a disability.

Their co-teaching strategies are meeting with great results. Their campus devotes time and resources into getting staff to meet and it is a priority for the campus. It clearly shows and the additional costs of having six special education teachers to manage the students and balancing the multiple age groups of a full K-8 campus has benefitted many students.

And then, as we walked out of the last session, Cal-TASH was over. Until next year. Oh? Our session? Yes, we presented. Yes we did quite well. Yes, at Cal-TASH, paraeducators can come to the table. We are at the table because not only we are contributing to the education of students because we also need to hear what is coming on the horizon.

If you need our session handouts, check out our website and find the links to our handouts there.

Next year: San Diego. Unless we get swayed again by another conference, but not likely.


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, #TeamInclusion, Adminstrators, Autism, Campus, Co-teaching, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Intellectual Disabilities, ParaEducate, Special Education Teachers, Students, Technology | Comments Off on Recap #caltash2018

Six.

It’s our Sixth Anniversary! Technically yesterday. That is the hazard of being a ‘leap year’ company.

One of the things that seems the most often confusing is honestly at what point did “ParaEducate” become separate from “ParaEducate [the book]”? The thing is: one could not have started without the other. We’ve told this story before though—the world as we see it can only to continue to build from our growth on adapted and modified curriculum. As we’ve grown in scale we’ve looked at the expanse of materials that can best express that a student is seeing and experiencing in a classroom. We’ve continued to progress and are actively working to complete many more materials.

We chose our anniversary to coincide with the publication of the book because this was the jumping ground for us. None of the things we provide: YouTube collaborations with a variety of partners, conferences, private trainings, and more publications.

We know what it means to walk into a staff meeting and get them oriented on the future. A future for each student, both general education and special education. We don’t exactly have a definitive answer what that future clearly looks like, but approaching graduation or even a certificate of high school matters for each student. As a company we’re much more comfortable with reach out and introductions building the teams and sharing strategies for working with students.

ParaEducate is honored to make it to our sixth year of service to the special education community at large and hopes to continue to do so. We’ve also been reached by some old friends and cannot wait to reunite and bring you more materials.

Our connection with the world in general has grown by leaps and bounds. Especially in the last few months, we’ve crossed into new territory on Twitter and Facebook. We will continue to make strides with Google+, though we do not update as often as we know our followers there would like.

We’ve been looking at getting better connected with making sure that every paraeducator knows they have a chance to be a part of a unique opportunity: education. Every little in road matters. We will continue to reach out and be there with the blog, the website, and our publications.


What’s the mess?

Renay is prepping for Cal-TASH this weekend. So we have a lot of things going on in the main office.

We’re also looking at the actual completion of long awaited academic materials. We’re really hoping to release these items within hours of each other so we’ve been holding back trying to prepare all the materials at once. This has taken a lot of research into both Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and what has worked for students with a variety of abilities. We are hoping to publish this summer, but will push back the date to get the material right. This will be a major release and represents three years of preparation and work for ParaEducate. We are excited to continue to be able to provide materials.

So the summary: we hope to see you all at Cal-TASH, we’ve been around for six years, we have plans for 2018, and we are very glad to have you here. Thank you for your continued support.


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Appreciation, blog, Campus, Conferences, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications | Comments Off on Six.

Elephants

In special education, sometimes there is and there is not an elephant in the room. Elephants tend to take the form of questions such as, “When will the behaviorist [or other support service] actually get us something we can read and use to help the student with the behaviors [or student need]?” or “Does the classroom teacher actually understand that [the student] doesn’t feel connected to the material?” And our personal favorite, “So, how is that really going?”

There are a lot of things that go into the day. And if every issue became an elephant, even the ones that students create, you’d have an awful lot of elephants and not a whole bunch of ways of getting those elephants out of the room confidentially or even sometimes at all depending on the type of elephant.

Elephants also come in the form of doubts. “Did we make the right call?” “How do I get the student to value that they can do this activity?” “Did I not let the student know that bothered me?”

We’re reminded of an early job interview question from the technology sector around 1998.

“How do you put an elephant in the refrigerator?” The ideal answer was ‘Open the door and put the elephant in.’

If one managed to give a similar answer, the next question was, “How do you put a giraffe in a refrigerator?” The ideal answer was “Take out the elephant and put in the giraffe.” The idea was to remember that there is a process and a goal.

There is a process and a goal for everything. Sometimes the goal is to just survive for some students. Sometimes the goal is to teach self-advocacy. Sometimes the goal is to learn from the events that happened. And still sometimes the goal is to advance. To make the world better. And that’s what we want for all students. Not some mystery. Not some wink.

We believe that all students can succeed. Sometimes not all at once, and rarely if ever on a schedule that is related to the academic calendar year. But success is possible.

And then, before you know it, those elephants that took up the space in the classroom, they’re slowly deflating and wandering away.


The elephants that sit on our chest at night

We sat numbly last week. It happened again. Another school shooting. Another moment to panic over the fact we take students out of class sometimes for sensory needs to wander around campus hoping that the muscle movement can help the student find some sensory regulation. Another moment to worry over the fact some other adult was late to class if they’d get locked out of the classroom if something were to happen. Another moment to panic that we just won’t really know when enough is enough. Another moment to step back and realize that for all our students, with and without disabilities, emergency drills are important. Another reminder that teachers are human and feel emotions deeply that they need help too. Another moment to step away and reassure students that you are there for them. Another moment to teach a student that you too are human that you cannot possibly talk about another person’s death by gun shot in a school. Another moment to take a minute to look at the campus and think about the evacuation strategies. Another moment to introduce the students who have the most communication difficulties to the campus police officers to indirectly remind the officers that a major emergency will complicate things for that student. Another reminder that kindness to others is important. Another reminder that students who feel connected to teachers and staff feel heard. Another reminder that students have valuable voices in how their schools conduct themselves. Another reminder that students are a part of a community and that community can be the size of a city or as large as a country. Another moment that makes everyone question the scope and sequence of personal rights and personal safety. Another moment to take a deep breath and continue forward because that is what we will do when given horrible news in front of the students. Another moment to take the time to teach students the importance of process and role of government in many localities and the difference between pity, empathy, fear, and courage. Another moment to remember that while last week we lost 17 lives, we have been sitting on this debate since 1999 and even earlier when it comes to violence at schools.

Take some time for yourself. Review your school’s emergency procedures. And may you never have cause to use them.


The elephant brought us a cake….

We will do our anniversary blog post next week. Find out what we have in mind for 2018!


One more elephant before we leave:

Next week, we will be at Cal-TASH! We cannot wait to see you there!


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in #kindness, Behavorist, Campus, Conferences, death, Disabilities, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students, Support Services, Trauma Sensitive | Comments Off on Elephants

Guest Blog: An Open Letter to My Special Needs Student:

In November of 2017, we were contacted by Rebekah Edwards, a paraeducator asking to be a guest blogger for us. After reading her first post, we agreed her story was something worth sharing. Rebekah reached out to us from a Central Time Zone State. We are glad to have the ability to share Rebekah’s reflection with her student, the type of professional connection many paraeducators have with many different students in their careers.


June 2017

Dear “B”,

The time has come for me to say goodbye. I have not looked forward to this day. When I have thought about moving away, I quickly re-shift my thoughts. My heart hasn’t been able to “go there.”

The first time I saw you, it was love at first sight. I knew without question I had been called to teach and love you. I felt the important weight of that charge. I knew immediately what a precious gift you are, and what a privilege it was to serve you. It did not take long for your presence in our school to bring joy to everyone in the building. Your personality casts rays of happiness to each person you come in contact with. Smiles are an involuntary reflex to all when you walk into a room.

I am so proud of what we have accomplished together in the two short years since we met. You have risen to the challenges you have been given. I have loved watching you learn and grow. You have left me in awe, with the capacity of your great mind. You have been so hungry for knowledge that at times I couldn’t feed you fast enough. I have received the greatest fulfillment teaching you to read, helping you count, and watching your world blossom through the power of an education. You have truly been the greatest highlight of my career. I have improved as a human because of you. You have helped me grow in grace towards others. You have taught me how to be a better friend. You have ushered much laughter into my life. You have facilitated a greater love in my heart. Because of you, I have experienced God in the most uniquely beautiful way than I ever have before.

There is a promising and purposeful plan for your life! I had hoped to journey further with you into your future, but I have been praying for the one who will now step into that role. I hope they will be everything you need them to be, so that you will exceed all expectations and reach all your dreams. As much as I love you, I desire them to love you

more than I ever could.

At the end of the iconic movie, “E.T.,” E.T. prepares to board his mothership to return home, and leave Elliot behind. He reaches his alien finger out towards Elliot’s heart and says, “I’ll be right here.” A day may come when I am a vague memory to you, but your heart light will shine in me forever.

Love,

Mrs. Edwards


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in Campus, Classroom, Guest Bloggers, Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Students | Comments Off on Guest Blog: An Open Letter to My Special Needs Student:

The Professional Contract

We’ve spoken a lot about the relationship that a paraeducator can have with students, but not really done an amazing job with the relationship between general education teachers and paraeducators. We’ve spoken a bit about getting teachers to utilize the skills that a paraeducator might bring and we’ve talked to student teachers, but really looking at the relationship is pretty important.

Sure, we’ve asked every teacher to introduce us formally and recognize us as an adult in the classroom, but what happens if you come into a situation in the middle of the year?

So we give you the professional contract.

Dear General Education Teacher,

I am your paraeducator. I am an adult in your room.

Every day I am able, I will come into your room at set times, perhaps twice a week depending on need of the student. I will let you know in a school professionally recognized contact method if I am to be absent for any time I can possibly let you know. I am charged by the campus to follow through on campus protocols for safety and campus wide rules.

My primary responsibility is to the student(s) I am assigned. Sometimes in the guise of helping that student, I will hide my help for that student by doing work for you. Sometimes the student doesn’t need direct academic help so I may be freer to give you assistance. Other times, I need to sit back and observe and it may not look like much then, but trust in me to be a professional that will complement your teaching style.

Let me know your preferences up front. If you’re new to the profession, I will try to reach out to you and help you understand I’m not here to inhibit your professional growth.

I do not always necessarily know where you are going with a lesson for the entire class, but I will help you if you let me know where you are headed I can assist you or help follow your plan for a lesson or a unit much better than having to do piece by piece. This a great help to students who need AAC vocabulary loaded or even for students who may not be doing academically on grade level as their peers. Having a road map to help these students interact academically with their peers is critical and lessens the wait time these students may have due to the fact that I may have to wait for someone else to create a parallel curriculum or access to materials that might work better for the student in your classroom.

I may not initially be an expert on the student that is in your room. But I know a few things more about finding behavior patterns or know some key traits of the disability that the student may have. And then again, sometimes a particular student will surprise us both and it’ll work in the student’s favor. We live for those moments.

I will do my best every day to make sure our mutual work place follows school policy and is a welcoming environment for all students.

I will model your expected output for your class. To that end, I do need to be counted on getting any and all handouts.

I will let you know what we observe that is working with the student we share or the class as a whole as often as I possibly can.

I want this time we share together to be useful to all students in the class. I know sometimes you may see that I am late. It’s because I’m finishing up with another teacher or student. Or maybe I finally found a restroom. Or maybe I desperately needed my fifteen minute break because it was a very trying class period. I respect our time together and I am doing my best by all the students I am working with.

I often think about the medical mantra, “First do no harm.” And though this is the starting point for medicine, it is also a starting point for a professional relationship and developing a long term relationship we can always come back to.

Your professional partner,

 

A paraeducator


Don’t Forget

ParaEducate is presenting at Cal-TASH. Find us March 3rd at the event venue!


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in 8 hours, Campus, Classroom, Conferences, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism | Comments Off on The Professional Contract

How do you learn that? Getting over the fear of computers

So it’s pretty much no secret that Renay has always been very well versed in technology. If you ask her, the story goes into something about early introduction, a cart rolled in during kindergarten, but never being able to touch the ‘sacred school computer’. Until the third grade and suddenly there were enough computers for partners of 16 students. Those early days of computers didn’t really fuel curiosity but they filled a skill need. So when other paraeducators see Renay responding to technology problems, they think she’s the end all and answers all the questions about computers.

But that’s not just it. Renay has talked about technology before. It’s been a significant part of her life and clearly is the mainstay of ParaEducate’s success. But we spent some time with Renay observing how she works with students in computers. It’s time to look at how one teaches a students, even those with disabilities how to go through the steps of using a computer even in an unfamiliar program or app.

One of the hardest things is to talk someone through the steps of doing something on the computer, especially if you see what they’re doing and you know you could do it a million times faster. Whether through trained motions or visual memory, the process for saving a file, finding a file, or even opening a file has very similar steps since computers moved further away from keyboard only input. Sometimes it’s just talking through the steps: Use the mouse, find ‘file’, choose save as. Depending on the student, Renay may also use a finger or a pen to visually target the area that helps with the steps.

Despite the fact that computer skills are one of the most obvious job skills, step back and remember it’s all right for the student to learn from the experiences with the computers or other digital devices. Let the students try the device without you stepping in. In more advanced classes, especially surrounding robotics and computer programming part of the learning is literally built into the struggle. But especially with some students, be aware of how much they are struggling to make sure they are not beginning to hate using computers. It is a hard balance, but everyone deserves to learn to have fun with computers.

Renay also memorized all the basic commands, but that’s more a reflection of her age—the keyboard commands were required “back in the day” because the mouse wasn’t quite available. There are lists that are available, but the basics for both Apple, Chromebook, and Windows based machines are the same. This takes out some of the time one might use to go through certain commands. Google this and print it out and carry with you if you’re not one to memorize these commands. But by using the commands will make things much easier.

While Word or GoogleDocs are pretty similar, other apps like PowerPoint or Google Slides are extraordinarily different but accomplish the same task. Additionally Google Sheets and Excel both have nuances that result in slightly different outputs especially when graphing. So how to become more comfortable with them? Start with remembering: the basic commands are the same. Realize that you have a goal with every basic application: to produce a product.

Imaging software is a lot more complex, but starting with looking at the screen. Find icons you are familiar with first. Things that look like paint brushes can be altered quickly and produce interesting images. Stepping deeper are selection tools and these all look very different. More advanced imaging software can yield 3d printing. This requires a level of accuracy and understanding of visualization programs that may take a few trials.

Go ahead, take some community college classes to learn how to use specific software. There might even be classes at an adult school close to you. If you’re working with a student and they are on a web based learning system for a class, see if the teacher can add you as a ‘student’ to let you get familiar with the interface when you aren’t trying to peer over a student’s shoulder. While I have you thinking about that, realize the program of Hour of Code doesn’t actually have an age cap. You might not be thrilled about learning to code with a cartoon character designed to attract very young children, but it will help you learn process and strategy for solving computer based problems for coding.

Other places to get stumped is potentially using the school system for saving files. Some have save to device, others have a cloud storage system. Knowing how to get the student to save and how to help the student search is important. And while we’re on the subject of saving, file names need to be useful. Fifty copies of “untitled documents”, especially two that may have been created the day before is not very useful. Encourage the student to write the purpose of the file as the save name, no matter how the document is saved. Some computer classes require specific saving conventions.

While we’ve covered a range of types of programs students may be asked to use, ideally, you should be very comfortable with a word processor and a presentation software. The database/spreadsheet software is a bonus. Get familiar with the basics. Know where things are, find out what some extras are. Be good in those and realize that every class will at some point be writing something like a paragraph eventually. Be confident with keyboarding. If you do not know the traditional layout of the US keyboard, spend some time with typing games (there are many free online). Get used to the keyboard, improve your typing speed.

While not everyone needs to be an expert, being able to help students with technology so they can learn to properly use it is very important in the world we live in today. Taking these little steps on the outside can help you give skills to students who will find these skills very necessary in their future.


While We Have You Here

We have confirmed our guest blogger! We cannot wait to introduce you to her and her story! Coming soon!


Just in case you missed it…

ParaEducate will be at Cal-TASH March 2 and 3. Find us and many other education resources and exchange ideas and find out what is on the horizon for self-advocates and special education.


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 herehereherehere, 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.

 

Posted in 8 hours, Class Specific Strategy, Computers, Conferences, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Skills Lesson, Technology | Comments Off on How do you learn that? Getting over the fear of computers

How to Write A Report of Academic Progress of a Student For Paraeducators

Official reports actually aren’t in the regular expectations of paraeduators. From time to time though, because one is asked to write an academic report about a student, especially if a paraeducator is working in a small pull out group. So this can be nail biting for most. Some highlights to make this easier.

  • Officially, the only real report occurs in the IEP meeting. While your report may be used to help the case manager make informed observations and report to the IEP team, it is not the end all or be all of the real report.
  • Unless you’ve written hundreds, you’re going to write at least one draft before you hand it to the case manager. It’s okay to go out of order of skills or concerns but make sure you group them in your final draft.
  • Be objective and direct. Use the student name, avoid pronouns.
  • Anecdotal data, or the data that tells a story, is to be used conservatively. This isn’t a time for a story. Phrases such as, “Observed student calling peers by name or asking their name to get to know peers on playground on many occasions.” is a much better and succinct way of documenting specific progress or positives you see with the student.
  • To start: list all the positives you see with the student and their academic progress. Sometimes this list can be short, but the idea is to be as positive as possible. Sure the student rolls their eyes at you when you ask them to do something, but then they do it.
  • Look at things that may be on the horizon. You may not know the exact state standard, but what would be the next skill? Can they write a complete sentence? Have they written a paragraph? Can they write more than one paragraph? Can they use evidence to support their idea? Math: can they connect fractions, percents, and decimals? Can they follow a formula? Can they identify 5 elements on the Periodic Table? Are they looking information up before asking for help?
  • Take a moment before you do your final draft. Realize how much your student has grown. But also realize that sometimes, even with best laid plans: students take a step back. What will it mean for that student to take those steps forward with scaffolds and what it would look like for a student to not grow at all. But do not let those things keep you from describing those next steps.
  • Realize your words are going to be a tiny part of what the IEP team will consider and discuss about the student. Sometimes they will opt to stay with where the student is in their progress because other things are more important to the entire team.

The request does not always come around very often. But it is nice to know how to do an academic report.


It is official:

Our Twitter account turned 6 yesterday. We’ve had over 2400 tweets and more than 900 followers.


Just in case you missed it…

ParaEducate will be at Cal-TASH March 2 and 3. Find us and many other education resources and exchange ideas and find out what is on the horizon for self-advocates and special education.


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 herehereherehere, 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.

 

Posted in Conferences, Disabilities, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Skills Lesson, Students, training, Uncategorized | Comments Off on How to Write A Report of Academic Progress of a Student For Paraeducators

What We’ve Learned From Teachers Who Did Not Quite Match the Students Supported

Originally, we entitled this piece, ‘What We’ve Learned From Bad Teachers’ and we had a long debate about the issue. We wanted to recognize that just because the teacher didn’t match a student’s learning style or need the teacher wasn’t ‘bad’. The quantifier of ‘bad’ was just a stopping point for a lot of our discussions. Every teacher, special education, general education, they are just as dedicated as the next professional. They champion many students and colleagues along the way in the education year. This is a truth of all communities, both in and out of the educational world: some folks just don’t get along. So, those of us who don’t get along have to find a way to deal with that.

We aren’t always certain why a teacher may not match a student’s needs. There are some reasons we might suspect, but the reasons are not always clear. Some teachers may have had poor inclusive experiences thereby wishing to limit their inclusiveness. Some teachers believe in pursuit of not lowering academic expectations for any student. Others may not be adaptable to attention seeking, classroom disruptive behaviors. To be fair, as a professional wading into the fray, whether you know that teacher or not, with a student to support, paraeducators are often caught in the crossfire. It can be a tenuous professional relationship so remember to take a step back and realize that some things in life you cannot fix. Be frank with your administrator and your case managers should the need arise.

But there are amazing things to take away from these educators as well. While we started off on a negative tangent, we want to leave you with some take aways for those of you who are in a professional pairing that may not be ideals. Life is infinitely better when you can find something to embrace and walk away with a light sigh or even a smile.

  1. Inclusion is a mindset. The mindset that teaches that everyone is valuable. This also means accepting a teacher’s differences as well.
  2. Embrace the mess. Learning is imperfect. Complex subjects require lots of review. And then, sometimes, complex subjects are just a blip on the radar.
  3. The journey is more important than the end result. Reminder: it’s just school. This tends to infuriate some parents, but when they have a moment, they too relax and realize that maybe their student will not make the ideal progress and that’s okay.
  4. Take cues from the student(s) you support. If they aren’t bothered, then they are fine. Don’t put any more energy and concern if the student has none. Yes, even if the grades “count” or “don’t count”. If the student is genuinely engaged with the material, let the student enjoy the teacher.
  5. But always choose your words carefully. In person to person, in email, in text, in any correspondences that may occur. Remain professional.

Lying would say it was awesome in each classroom we ever walked into. Sometimes the professional relationship is about sitting back and watching relationships unfold. It can feel emotionally destructive. And if it is emotionally destructive, please tell someone with the authority to change your schedule. A schedule should be done quietly and professionally without gossip or rhyme or reason. There are lots of different personalities in a single classroom. Look for a way to keep the positive staying on top.


Did you hear?

Nicole Eredics, The Inclusive Class, has a new book! We’ve seen it and we’re so very excited for her. If you order now with the code EREDICS you get a discount and a very cool book about academic adaptations. We’ve waited a long time for this book. So excited for her!


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, Campus, Classroom, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students, The Inclusive Class | Comments Off on What We’ve Learned From Teachers Who Did Not Quite Match the Students Supported

2018 and ParaEducate

We’re back! We were fully charged earlier this week, no matter if the kids had a happy holiday or not, they’re pretty glad to be back.

Which brings us to the point of the things we want to look at over the next twelve months.

  • First we want to continue to inform and help our followers move beyond being trauma informed to trauma sensitive. Some of the students we serve have things that impact them daily. Compounding things for these students we serve: they have disabilities. And it is always all too easy to ignore the trauma in favor for what is right in front of us.
  • Additionally, we really want to look at more academic specific strategies to give students a better understanding of their access to academics. We’ve recently been preparing science and history texts ready to go to publication. We’re almost ready and we can’t wait to share that with you. And while we’re on academic specific strategies, we also want to give you basic skills to work with students—the writing skills, counting money, how to walk with students on a field trips.
  • We want to really talk about technology again. Technology is our backbone here at ParaEducate and we’re actually really good with it. We want to bring that same confidence to you.
  • More about skills: we want to give paraeducators skills for talking in class about class related materials and how to speak to students when disciplining.
  • We mentioned back in November, we would have a guest blogger! And we totally plan on having that guest blogger soon. We’ll keep you all informed.
  • Oh, the big news, if you missed it over break: we’re heading to Cal-TASH 2018. We are fortunate to be able to return to Cal-TASH and can’t wait to share and meet new folks.

It’s a pretty big list we’re looking forward to in 2018. It will also be our 6th year officially this year. We have a lot to look forward to. We’re glad you’re with us.


Speaking of being glad to have you

We just reached a major milestone on Facebook while we were on break: we crossed and held with 700 followers. On Twitter, we now have 900 followers. We’re so excited to keep bringing our content to new folks and hopefully grow our #BetterTogether family.


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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, Behavior Strategies, blog, Class Specific Strategy, Conferences, Disabilities, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, publications, Skills Lesson, Students, Technology, Trauma Sensitive | Comments Off on 2018 and ParaEducate

For the Season

Part of the reason we’re posting so late: we’ve been putting finishing touches on our annual staff gift and well, there were a lot of staff this year. But that doesn’t mean we’ve not thought about this post. It is literally the last post of 2017 for us. In the past it has meant that we have to embrace the schedule, deal with all the pull in and pull out due to different schedules, stand fast for last minute rallies, and most of all enjoy whatever celebrations we share as a staff.

We like this time of year. Not just for the wind down for the things people on staff like to do, but to remind everyone of the traditions we share together and individually. These all look different for every person. And some traditions are long and some traditions have only just begun. Realize that your contribution by being there has changed those traditions, and it’s just expanding the world a little bit more.

Remember that all folks on staff contribute to the season and take some time to stop in and thank the school nurse or maybe the speech therapist. It will give you a break from some of the demands of the day and it will give you a moment to connect with a staff member who sees the students you work with as well. It is also a great time to touch base and learn some facts that you probably didn’t know. Renay learned she ties her shoes the ‘left hand way’– there is a ‘left hand’ and a ‘right hand’ way to tie shoes, from the OT. The PT helped explain something about nuances for some students who use wheelchairs. There are a lot of fascinating things you can learn from those support services.

We have seen some of the best of inclusion; we’ve seen some of the best of communities coming together. Whether people survived natural disasters or they just wanted to make things better for a student with a disability, we know that this world can just use a little more kindness.

Speaking of traditions, ParaEducate would like to wish you, your families, and your staffs a happy, relaxing winter break.

Above all else, no matter if you celebrate during the winter month or not, take the time to enjoy the time off you get during these weeks. When we return for 2018, ParaEducate will take some time to prepare the midyear check-ins and a look at things we would like examine in the coming months before the end of the academic year.

We appreciate your support through reading our weekly blog, the purchase of our modified activities, alternative texts, and the book, ParaEducate. Our blog returns January 11, 2018. See you then!


An Annoucement

It is no small feat, we just made 700 likes on Facebook! We really appreciate the support we have gotten from our followers and hope to continue!

One last thing: We have exciting news to share with you and will do so from social media very soon. Stay tuned!


ParaEducate will be on Winter Holiday from December 28, 2017 to January 11, 2017. 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 herehereherehere, 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Appreciation, blog, Campus, Modifications, Nurse, OT, paraeducators, PT, publications, SLP, Support Services | Comments Off on For the Season