Can You Teach Me About Tomorrow?

Renay told us the first words out of the gate: the weekend was not awesome. It wasn’t just exhaustion related to doing hybrid. It was a series of local deaths that have compounded this weekend. And they were students Renay worked with as a result of inclusion.

This means we have a community that needs to deal with the situation at hand. When discussing the events with students, things may need to be moderated.

We have talked about student death before. And every single time, it is one more gut punch of loss of promise of youth. Even with the youth was doing their best in the community. What we did not really talk about was what to do in the post-vention, or the systematic response.

We have talked about student death before. And every single time, it is one more gut punch of the loss of promise of youth.

ParaEducate

Most districts now have a crisis response team. This includes someone who manages information so the families are not overwhelmed initially. There is also a team response to identify individuals who might be immediately impacted. This also is a management system for providing staff and others information about attending any events the family may open to the general public– outside of Pandemic living.

A few reminders

  1. If you were especially close to any of the student deaths, ask for a time to connect with the counseling services. The District crisis management team will connect you with professional support during this time.
  2. Realize that the passing of our youth is never wanted. And during a Pandemic, it is never wanted even more.
  3. And though it may hurt: if you have been given specific phrasing to read by the district to announce the passing of a fellow student, or even a staff or faculty member, read it verbatim. If you need to step out and cry after, do so. It is a natural response.
  4. If you did not know the youth or staff well, do not feel bad. Support your staff who may have. They may need to step away for a few minutes. They may need to have a moment. Check on them. Let them know they are still valued. A reminder: you are a professional. Students around you may have feelings. Please direct them to the correct staff member in the office to help the students cope. And never be ashamed to admit you also need help.

If you or someone you love needs support, please do not hesitate to reach out to National Suicide Prevention. Chat and phone are both available. Check it out: suicidepreventionlifeline.org


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 #kindness, Campus, Crisis, death, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on Can You Teach Me About Tomorrow?

Where Did You Go?

Admittedly things were a bit unusual yesterday at ParaEducate. Renay was back dealing with a hybrid schedule with students and well, Monday got eaten up. So we post on a Tuesday.

To give you a little perspective of how quickly things turned around for Renay, a week ago: Renay was still distance teaching and learning with the students. There was training. But no amount of training really would explain what would happen yesterday.

So for those of you who have not gone back yet, or those who have returned and re-returned, and re-returned, some thoughts.

  1. We know that technology has been working overtime since last March. And some districts managed to upgrade technology to better support a variety of hybrid learning that will occur in many settings. It may work. It may not work. It may have worked yesterday and magically stopped working tomorrow. It is all right. We can figure it all out.
  2. It is the First Day of School all over again. Kids are nervous. You will be exhausted for all the millions of things you are trying to remember and get across to the students.
  3. Have that plan for the students who do not have coping skills for things that require flexibility. Build that into every moment. Make it a part of the lesson. And that will just be a go-to when things aren’t going right.

Have that plan for the students who do not have coping skills for things that require flexibility. Build that into every moment. Make it a part of the lesson. And that will just be a go-to when things aren’t going right.

ParaEducate

Hybrid is not easy for teachers or paraeducators. It is all too easy to turn your attention to the bodies who share the room with you and forget everyone else. Some thoughts about breaking up the spaces.

  • Decide which students are going to get attention how. Is this a co-teaching situation where one person can develop skills to go between the students who are distance and students who are in front? Is this one person takes the written chat and the other person handles the verbal?
  • If your situation mandates you [adult] needs to maintain six feet of spacing from the students, what does that look like?
  • Groups? Should they be a mix of in person or distance? Should they be just distance verses in person? Figure it out. But either way: headphones. We suggest wired headphones because they force the person to acknowledge their device, and we know that the head phones do not require charging.

The thing we miss

 It is okay to miss things about going into hybrid. Unlike Distance Learning: we knew we were not making a physical connection with our students. Hybrid is the worse sort of challenge especially for students who have developed a need for physical redirection or who need physical feedback that comes from high-fives and fist bumps. We thought we’d be all right. We find this challenge more disappointing that wearing masks while teaching, than technology being uncooperative, or the rushed feeling that happens with every single class.

Yes we know some teachers have returned to high-fives and other forms of physical social praise. We decided not to. Some of our students are not vaccine eligible because they are not sixteen yet. Other students are very immune compromised and we just could not put their families with a potential risk. No amount of hand washing can help that right now.

Something to consider…

No matter where you are personally: this moment in the classroom is a definite mark in history. We still wonder what best practices will rise to the top and not just be a fad or a solution for one moment in time.


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 #kindness, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Campus, Co-teaching, Distance Learning, General Education Teachers, Hybrid, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on Where Did You Go?

Move Mountains: Work a Miracle

If you haven’t been back on campus, most campuses are in progress of transitioning back to in person or a variation of in person. And for those of you who have been off campus since last March: this is a huge deal to go back in sections, or even as close to 100% student body as possible.

Some reminders that we might need to bring with us as those last campuses migrate back to in person learning.

  • Everyone is in a different place of returning. It will take a lot of grace those first days for students who are in different places about returning, knowing how to participate on a school. And some of those students will not know until the second the first bell rings what that means.
  • Staff are in equally different places of returning. Some staff with health concerns, even with vaccinations, may have personal concerns about getting their emergency treatment at work by coworkers. Think about your coworker who has diabetes, epilepsy, and other hidden disabilities. If you know about their disability, ask them how they want their emergency plan followed now with protocols in place.
  • Have a space for our coteachers and paraeducators. Count on their placement in your classroom.
  • Be ready to help students with mask behavior, at least the ones who are supposed to wear masks.
  • Wash your hands more often.
  • Remember all the increased communication? It needs to return. If you are transitioning to doing a hybrid for your personal work day or if you are staying on campus all day, all the little things matter. If you are bad at checking your email, figure out a system for you to check your email. If you know you need to re-read your email, find that time to re-read.
  • Take the time every day to have the space to be yourself. You have done several dozen new things in the past year. Reaching students online was perhaps the biggest challenge, but there were good things and challenging things about teaching that way.
  • Label everything you intend on bringing. Just in case.
  • Yes, this is going to be very much like the beginning of the school year. Bring your patience and your smile.

Yes, this is going to be very much like the beginning of the school year. Bring your patience and your smile.

ParaEducate

If you don’t know: everything eventually will be all right. Have space for things to go wrong but celebrate the things that are going all right. Don’t forget what you have spent a year learning. Going back is not without the challenges. Take care of each other. Everyone will get what they need.

If you were wondering…

ParaEducate really does not have a stance which is better– distance, hybrid, or in person. We know more students are magically gone and that some feel they have lost ‘time’. In reality, there are only some measures that truly mean we have lost learning. But that learning we have done is different.

We know many students who have just really excelled in distance. We also know we have seen students ignore certain skills or not grow those skills that might benefit them long term. We honestly know that we have to support our staff who are out there doing all three in various capacities.

One more thing…

We just learned this morning that KU SOARS, the summer institute we have attended for the last two years will be in July! We had a lot of fun, and once again, this year, we will be on a virtual platform meeting so many different people. Based in Kansas, KU SOARS 2021 will once again reach out to so many folks about Inclusive Education. We hope you will consider attending. Announced already, July 14, Dan Habib and July 15, Dr. Karrie Shogren with break out sessions July 16. KU SOARS is $25 per person this year.


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 8 hours, Campus, Co-teaching, Distance Learning, Hybrid, Morale, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students | Comments Off on Move Mountains: Work a Miracle

Closer To Where We Started

Renay is filing away taxes for the businesses, writing partial drafts of multiple blog posts, checking an update on some book drafts, and making an outline of material for upcoming discussions. But in the back of her mind, she’s thinking a lot about what Hybrid might look like for the students. This is pretty normal for things that happen in ParaEducate.

One of the most unique things we tap into ParaEducate is the simple fact that there are so many things going on in our world trying to teach folks how to be better paraeducators, we do not have a lot of time to pause and be bored. If we aren’t thinking about an observation of a student, we’re trying to quickly prepare a modification for a student in a matter of minutes.

Some Things On Hybrid

If you have students who follow the Resource Model, or are perhaps fall in the less extensive support needs category of special education, perhaps the best use of your time in hybrid is to help with the chat for students who are asking questions. Why? Because this allows students to get help without you identifying the students who need the most support.

…perhaps the best use of your time in hybrid is to help with the chat for students who are asking questions.

ParaEducate

Those who work with students who fall in the category of inclusion or Extensive Support Needs (sometimes also called low incidence disabilities), your time is more about trying to get students to follow the school patterns and getting used to those patterns in specific rounds of skills because they are re-experiencing school, some at new campuses. And being consistent with those expectations will help students feel at peace.

Knowing all students are re-experiencing school and their adults on campus is very important. Whatever this stage of distance learning looks like at your site, please take time to take care of yourself. There will be rises and falls as more and more students return to school. Keep trying and it will be all right.

Knowing all students are re-experiencing school and their adults on campus is very important.

ParaEducate

What We Don’t Know We Don’t Know

Paraeducators as a whole are not necessarily known for their ability to ask questions. A lot of the job is only about what is right in front of us and how to address those questions that arise from how we interact with those students.

Sometimes the pathways in addressing student needs seems pathless. For example, Reading skills are not this jumble of tasks. There are specific activities needed by students to help reinforce good pre-reading skills before students can just start reading. For some students, this comes very easily, for others there are a lot of scaffolds that some students need to follow specifically prescribed by years of research to get students to reading independently. However, most paraeducators simply by their place in the hierarchy of school literally are not taught the pathways through reading. It is more likely that elementary paraeducators are taught informally, but secondary paraeducators who are working with students who are still learning to read and write often do not know this information. And it is important to get that information. This goes also to math—another pathway to specific skill learning. And then how to determine when it is time to abandon certain tasks in favor of reaching for a calculator and giving the students that time to learn those higher level skills that are otherwise limited.

We know this is very initial, but we will get to this in more detail soon.

Before we leave…

ParaEducate will be off the next two weeks. Mostly for Spring Break and Spring Holiday, but during this time, Renay will be working on Inclusion From Square One. This Spring Quarter issue will be a great span of information. ParaEducate will return for publishing April 5, 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Hybrid, Inclusion From Square One, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, publications | Comments Off on Closer To Where We Started

CalTASH 2021 Wrap Up

While separated in our own bubbles of distance, Cal-TASH 2021, one of our favorite conferences, happened this past weekend.

The platform was new to most of us who were presenting, and offered some connections in similar ways to the complexities of real life by having one speaker or a panel.

Virtual presentations are going to take some different skills. Certainly using polls and having access to chat features are very important when one presents. The downside, missing applause, laughter, and presenting nuances. But nonetheless: CalTASH came back.

Many people who attended CalTASH were folks who were there last year, all too aware that COVID-19 was a growing concern. As we sat last year in the different presentations, we were getting news that familiar conferences we had attended were shutting down and refunding folks. What we did not know last year as we enjoyed exchanging business cards and information with each other that was going to literally be that last time for an entire year. And here we are a year later virtually together, but we were going to make the best of it.

Virtual presentations are going to take some different skills. Certainly using polls and having access to chat features are very important when one presents. The downside, missing applause, laughter, and presenting nuances. But nonetheless: CalTASH came back.

ParaEducate

We always talk about our sessions we attend, but the best thing we have with regards to virtual conferences: we know that our sessions are all recorded. The ability to come back and review the presentations that we were unable to attend or the presentations we attended to look back and connect with other folks, that’s a bonus we have for using virtual platforms.

Let’s take a moment to see what we walked away with.

Day 1

Opening Key Note with Noor Pervez

Noor Pervez came to us via a prerecorded connection. As a person whose intersectionality crosses disability, Muslim, faithful, and a member of the LGBTQA+ community, Noor framed the opening with “valuing who I am” and walking away with “More identities means a pathway to identify barriers and change those barriers.”

More identities means a pathway to identify barriers and change those barriers.

CalTASH opening Note Address, Noor Pervez

The world we have today is expressly dealing with those intersections and they are not always the same for everyone at any one time. But here at CalTASH, one of the goals is to look at those intersections and be ready to help folks beginning to solve the problems and the stop causing harm to others in those intersections.

Making Modifications in Minutes with Nicole Eredics

Okay, of course, we were going to support Nicole! Nicole spent her session in a familiar place for us all, modifications. But looking at the options is very important. There were also discussions using SnapType, an app we have spoken about previously.

One of the new things that Nicole introduced to us was Marzono’s Taxonomy, an updated version of Bloom’s Taxonomy—the process of thinking and questioning the things placed in front of us so that we all can start and process through higher levels.

And if you’re ever short of resources, reach out to Nicole. Like us, Nicole is always available to share resources.

Town Hall: Digital Divide of Technology with Adiba Nelson, Vinton Cerf, and Lori Shepard

We know 2020 taught us how big the gulf was of technology availability especially for people with disabilities. And then there are things that are just stunning when companies do not send all the parts needed to attach the device to a person’s wheelchair– more specifically the missing pieces to allow Nelson’s daughter to have her AAC on her chair.

Vinton Cerf was looking at the process of Accessible Websites and acknowledged that disabilities are nuanced and that not every interface adapts well.

Lori Shepard discussed the user experiences for adults with disabilities. Especially adults are challenged because their devices are training dependent—meaning that in order to keep the device charged and in appropriate working condition, someone, not the necessarily the main user, will be doing those tasks and making sure the device is available for the user. Of more concern is that assistive technology at the adult stage is not surveillance, though devices like say Ring can help the adult be more independent.

Also discussed: that all technology has a life span. Whether the device survives for three to eight, or more years, is important to the user and then adapts as the user ages.

Technology and Literacy with Caty Solone, Kim Boscio, and more.

There were a lot of discussions happening in this group. In the end, it was about connecting AAC and literacy and finding out what an AAC user knew and how best to support that. There was some discussion about phonics development with an AAC user to help support their early literacy.

One topic discussed was the importance of using the movie (of a book) to be the hook, and then connect to the reading and read more directly, than the traditional model of reading then movie.

…using the movie (of a book) to be the hook, and then connect to the reading and read more directly, than the traditional model of reading then movie.

CalTASH 2021 Technology and Literacy Presentation

Another moment highlight: literacy is background knowledge and exposure to text helps to build the shared experiences. For students who do not travel or may not know large city life or rural life, this one way for the students to have that information brought to them.

But ultimately, all educators should bring their joy of reading and help to elevate that experience to bringing reading to others.

Inclusive Spaces in Social skills Development with Aja McKee, Audri Gomez and Kevni Stockbridge

This was a focus on adults finding inclusive spaces, and especially adults who needed communication support. What this group found was that some adults with disabilities found acceptance with LGBTQA+ groups.

There were some great discussions here about why that might have been and how GSAs at high school and middle school are places where students might start to feel that they can connect to others.

The CalTASH Bash.

Always on point. We were thrilled to have dancing and the pets. The pets who came to dance! (or were bribed). But this was a gathering for all to enjoy.

Day 2

Day 2 was a little bit about juggling. We had more speakeasies on Day 2 and we also presented our self-advocate and paraeducator training.

LeDerick Horne Keynote Day 2

LeDerick Horne introduced some wonderful poetry to us and discussed his journey as a person with a disability from early education through to adulthood.

One of the facts he shared with us all, 60% of students with an IEP magically do not have a disability after leaving high school. What this means is folks with hidden disabilities may opt to not disclose their disability and do not know the avenues to get support with things when they are facing challenges in college or in their work places when they do have a disability. LeDerick Horne really talked about framing the conversations we need to have with students with disabilities is that they need to connect to their disability and not have shame about their disability. And this also takes developing pride in one’s self about their disability and that students will connect at different times and in different ways to that pride but having that positive role and opportunity to be able to recognize the good and the challenges.

If you have a chance, look up LeDerick Horne and his poetry. You won’t regret the time spent watching him recite his poetry.

Parent Perspectives Distance Learning for Children with Extensive Support Needs and Distance Learning with Sami Toews, Amy Hanreddy, and Elia Mahoney

This was a study in progress of experiences for students with extensive support needs during distance Learning.

Some challenges with this study: getting ahold of families. And the methods for collecting were also challenging. Some bright news: they had both English and Spanish translations for folks to share.

But the big takeaway here was that the hopes for Distance Learning mirrored many of the Desired supports. Families were getting direct information about how their child was being supported.

After this point, Renay got very involved in two separate Speakeasies. And of course, Renay presented on our behalf. We did not cover the material in the Speakeasies because it is a very organic, moving situation and it is meant to be a place of conversation.

We love conferences. Though we missed the direct energy of conferences, this was a great time for everyone. We thank the folks at CalTASH for being here with us and continuing to connect self-advocates, educators, and folks supporting self-advocates

If you have a chance, take a look at TASH and you might find your state has their own chapter.


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 #BetterTogether, AAC, Adults with Disabilities, Conferences, Disabilities, Inclusion, ParaEducate, Self-Advocacy, Students, Technology, The Inclusive Class | Comments Off on CalTASH 2021 Wrap Up

Nine.

There aren’t a lot of things we can say. To be fair, when we started ParaEducate in 2012, we didn’t look too much further than the book we had written. We had no plans for updates. We had no plans for a book series. And we had some loose plans for things that were related to curriculum adaptations but nothing was definitive at that moment. We were just trying to get the book published. And by this time in 2012: our book was available.

But we are still excited to continue connecting with amazing individuals like Nicole Eredics, Beth Foraker, Amanda Morin, and of course, Megan Gross just to name a few. The support of our followers and our professional connections has drawn quite a network over the years and we are very happy to connect with those who are at different points in their journey.

And yet here we are. Over seven different conferences attended. Nine published books, of which eight are supplemental curriculum. We’ve spoken with hundreds of paraeducators, administrators, student teachers, teachers, professors, parents, and self-advocates across multiple states.

Over seven different conferences attended. Nine published books…

ParaEducate

Where are we heading?

ParaEducate recognizes that most of our work is still ahead of us. Training paraeducators is a full-time job and all too often it is ignored. But it is a careful balancing act between providing students the instructions to move forward on their own and being ready to catch on the fall. The whole world expects our students to make progress, with and without disabilities. And with having been in a district that has been primarily in distance learning—that progress is going to be managed very differently in the near future.

Students with disabilities need to have experiences with peers and their general education teachers. They need to know they belong to their campus and that they are welcome without question.

Our work is never done. Such is the process of education: take what you know, expand that knowledge, share, and learn something new. We are lucky to have had this platform for so long and we will continue to help support as many as we can.

Our work is never done. Such is the process of education: take what you know, expand that knowledge, share, and learn something new.

ParaEducate

Any hints about the upcoming book?

Yes, we are working on a long-awaited book we have owed the world for quite a while. We expect announcements this summer. Can’t wait to tell you all.

One more time

ParaEducate will be sending Renay to Cal-TASH. Look for her on Saturday.

If you’re coming on Friday: it will be a real treat, Nicole Eredics will be there. Cal-TASH 2021 is not one to miss.

In Case You Didn’t Really Know

ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in K-12 inclusive schools. We reach out through our book, ParaEducate, conferences, our weekly blog, trainings, and our modifications.

And yes, next year, be ready for a major celebration. We’re turning ten next year.


 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 #BetterTogether, Adminstrators, blog, Campus, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, Modifications, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, publications, Special Education Teachers, student teachers, Students | Comments Off on Nine.

Islands and Connections

Renay has had a unique professional trajectory. She never really had to work hard to make the roads of connection to help many general education teachers and special education teachers work together. Certainly, there were professional connections that had to happen, but overall, Renay did not have to lay the tracks to make sure that inclusion was possible. But that day has arrived.

How do you get from an Island?

Paraeducators are not necessarily intuitive about making connections. It is a double edge sword for paraeducators. Sometimes you are told not to directly connect students with disabilities to peers. Sometimes you are wary of a general education teacher. And these create some islands.

Side note

There are some ethnic cultural traditions that seem to hold true no matter the workplace—in our experience, this also creates another island. It is hard to unlearn cultured practices. But you are welcome just the same. If you are a person who can see their cultural upbringing in the workplace as a type of island, you are ahead of the curve.

How do you build a bridge?

It is not enough to show up every day and show dedication. It is about actual direct conversations with teachers and students. It is about talking with the case manager what you notice when the student attends class.

Start with social niceties. Say or wave ‘hi’. Try to be on time to class when you can, or if there’s a reason you can’t be, let the teacher know you’re scheduled to escort a student for a handoff or this was your break time or you need to finish with the previous teacher. Mention what you see the student you support to accomplish in class if that’s possible.

Again, we know we’ve talked about this before. The same things apply. So many student teachers who start in general education keep claiming they don’t know how to work with students with disabilities and especially another adult in their room. Some have walls based on experiences, others have walls based on lack of familiarity. And it will take time to build those bridges.

The bridges you build will take time. Some folks are easier than others. Once the bridges happen, then the reciprocity can happen for you, for the teacher you are working with, and your student.

What if you’re not here for the long haul?

Do the next paraeducator in your shoes a favor: please build the bridge. Give a positive experience as possible for the next paraeducator to help build that bridge with that teacher.

It has been a hard year. And some of the hardest part has been those social minutes with the teachers you work with. There is no promise you will make eye contact and understand that one student needs attention specific to the situation. There are a lot of things to work out in our near future. But keep building those bridges.

We need to put this on the calendar

Next week is our ninth anniversary, Renay will take over again and discuss the process we have gone through in our nine years as a business and our slate of publications.

And one more thing for the calendar

Renay will be at Cal-TASH on Saturday, March 6. But look for Nicole Eredics on Friday, March 5. Can’t wait to talk with you all then.



 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 #BetterTogether, #TeamInclusion, blog, Campus, Conferences, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, The Inclusive Class | Comments Off on Islands and Connections

Worth Fighting For

This last week, Renay had gotten into some more curriculum. Not necessarily a new book on the horizon yet, though she has said she is preparing a new publication for Inclusion From Square One. It’s been way too long and there is a lot to say.

February is one of the shortest months. And normally, we would have been off this week and next week as well, but we sort of honestly: forgot. February is too short to have holidays or as many as happen during February.

How to get Inclusive?

For a while now, Renay has dabbled in conversations about Inclusive Education. For the first time though, last week, she was smack dab in the center of a conversation that was clear that folks surrounding Renay, while having been told about inclusive education, still were not convinced or even truly ready to make that transition. And Renay plans on talking about this more with Inclusion From Square One shortly. But this continued conversation has been weighing on our minds.

Campus life at any age is a collaborative, social activity. There are boundaries to be had certainly, but when everyone is a community, the students see that and respond to that care. Inclusion is not something paraeducators have a lot of control over. In small circles, particularly involving students, certainly there is an inclusive effort made by many paraeducators on behalf of their student. But there is one last place that paraeducators need to be inclusive. And it’s the place we all expect it the least: with other staff.

Campus life at any age is a collaborative, social activity. There are boundaries to be had certainly, but when everyone is a community, the students see that and respond to that care.

ParaEducate

It might be hard with some staff. How often does that staff, especially at secondary, come into contact with a student with disabilities? Some happen quite often. Others rarely if ever. And though there may be real reasons why students may not be enrolled with that teacher, what does that teacher know about you? What do you know about that other teacher?

Knowing about each other as a staff isn’t a power play. It is about building professional understanding. However, some folks take getting to know others rather brusquely and the litany of ice breakers have not necessarily garnered a variety of support between teachers. So how does one get to know other teachers across campus?

You say ‘hi’. With no pretense. No follow up. Maybe a smile if you can pull it together daily. It’s just a doorway. And in some campuses: this is really hard. But if you keep trying the path gets laid one stone at a time. You will find allies and eventually, those hesitations will come down. It is not overnight most times and that part can be frustrating.

Inclusion is not just about the students. Although that is very much our focus. At the end of the day though, it will be your coworkers who understand the need to smile and laugh every time a student tells you they ‘hate you’. It will be your coworkers who back you up when you make a call about a student’s level of participation. And certainly, it will be your coworkers, both teachers and other staff, who will help you with those behaviors that need readdressing.

We have said these words before. We say them weekly, we say them yearly. Set the example you need the students to follow, and the rest builds in itself.

We have said these words before. We say them weekly, we say them yearly. Set the example you need the students to follow, and the rest builds in itself.

ParaEducate

Before we go

We hope those who celebrate the Lunar New Year are enjoying their celebrations, even if they are muted compared to other years. May we be able to return and have the family gathering soon.

For those who are on ski weeks/February break, may you enjoy the week off.


 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 #TeamInclusion, Campus, General Education Teachers, Holidays, paraeducators, Professionalism, Special Education Teachers, Winter Holidays | Comments Off on Worth Fighting For

Five Hundred Miles …

One of our favorite things about February are the number of holidays that happen in February. But it is an amazingly packed month of just events that happen. It does seem endless and adding to the fact that February is a compressed month, one feels like they’re running a marathon and it is easy to get lost in. But Renay isn’t worried too much about being lost at this time of year.

This time of year, according to Renay, is better spent not knowing the answers but knowing where to get an answer.

Where Do I Go?

It is African American History Month. And while it is very easy to help guide students about the large names – King, Obama, Malcom X, Johnson, Parks, Aaron, Robinson, among many others, there are many other individuals who have made significant contributions to the history of the country and may be viewed as industry specific. And then there may be folks more relevant to your area of residence.

Some resources for you:

If you don’t know, Teaching Tolerance recently changed their name to Learning for Justice. Resources here are wonderful and set up for classrooms. They do not necessarily have lessons that are prepared for students with disabilities but they are good starting points for people to begin. Adding in visual vocabulary and other necessary supports for students with disabilities will help draw the inclusion into the lessons.

Want to read something with students that is a little more diverse? Check out this list compiled by Teachers of the Year in 2018.

Not on that list because it was published just last year is Amanda Morin’s book What Is Empathy?. The book starts the conversations about how to help heal when things are not always so clear and leave a space at the table for everyone, even when they do not wish to belong.

Just One More Question…

Wait, aren’t we within seven days of Valentine’s Day? How is that going to work this year?

Yes, it might not look like it has in past years. But it is time to talk about being kind to each other and finding ways to contribute to the way things are. Drawing on your driveway with chalk positive messages, sending a caring message to your students via chat, waving goodbye, or smiling all are great examples. And apparently, some students really enjoy getting real mail, so postcards work the best for everyone. Seeing someone as they are matters right now. And the students are appreciating these connections.

…Five Hundred More…

Just a mini celebration on our part: This is our two hundred fiftieth blog post since our massive reset in 2014. Nothing major in celebration, but this means for 250 weeks, we have reached hundreds of folks and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is our pleasure to continue to work with the people we have the privilege of connecting with. And Thank you for your years of support.

This is our two hundred fiftieth blog post since our massive reset in 2014. Nothing major in celebration, but this means for 250 weeks, we have reached hundreds of folks and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

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 #BetterTogether, blog, Disabilities, Distance Learning, ParaEducate, Reframing, Resources, Students | Comments Off on Five Hundred Miles …

Cooking With Fire

Renay has been setting up virtual cooking with some of her students this week. Previously, whenever Renay was assigned to Foods or Health classes, Renay never really got into helping the student unless they were really in the kitchen. And being in the kitchen with a student with disabilities looks very different depending on the disability.

Renay has done a variety of settings with students in kitchens. Some things to be aware of:

  • Kitchen settings in public schools tend to be training grounds for professional level kitchens. Skills students are learning here will translate to both the home kitchen and to professional kitchens.
  • While there will be plenty of space in a kitchen, students who have wheelchairs should remove as much off the back of their chair as possible and be very careful moving around a kitchen than they might be normally. If possible, assign less students to the kitchen just because some student’s chairs are big and when a student moves out of the way, it is easier with less students.
  • Students who need walkers or chairs should be placed in kitchens that have an edge where the walker or a chair can be put on a corner.
  • Be ready to engage the OT with ideas how to support a student with needs in the kitchen at school.

The kitchen in general is an amazingly safe place, even with students who are unfamiliar with most kitchen appliances. Teachers who are cleared to teach Food classes are amazingly resilient and handle some level of organized chaos very well.

A lot of the work in the kitchen may involve hand over hand supporting a student. Ask the student before you go ahead and lead the student. We are not fans of students over instructor for cooking. It is much easier to help the student to control if they are under your hands.

What foods should students cook?

Be aware of student allergies and food restrictions. Food restrictions are different than allergies. Some students, and especially students with disabilities, may have food restrictions, in ability to eat specific foods. This is not the same as being ‘picky’. Students with food restrictions also include students who have religious objections to certain foods. Knowing your student’s restrictions can help make some recipes easier. For students on liquid diets for medical reasons, ask before you take their food that they worked on with their class. Some students do want to take it home to share with family who are not on limited diets and other students eat physical food socially but get most of their food via their liquid diets.

Some students, and especially students with disabilities, may have food restrictions, in ability to eat specific foods. This is not the same as being ‘picky’.

ParaEducate

We aren’t done with allergies: if your student has an allergy make sure to know the type of reaction they have. Some reactions are within minutes. Others are a slow reaction. And especially if a student doesn’t know they are having a reaction.

If you are uncertain of the level of comfort a specific student has in the kitchen, try some of the easier steps. Has the student ever scraped a carrot to make carrot sticks? Can the student crack an egg into a bowl? Has the student ever measured flour, sugar, water, or salt with appropriate measuring device? These aren’t prerequisite skills and technically the general education students are learning as the process goes through, but work to provide the opportunity to the student who has not likely had this option.

But We’re Distance Learning

This is where Foods class takes an interesting turn. Foods at school is about increasing a student’s potential independence. Foods at home is about survival.

First: check with the teacher if pre-made items are allowed. Can the student go to the store and follow the recipe to their favorite mac and cheese box instead of trying to make all of it from scratch? What if the student bought the cupcakes and just decorated them? Can the student melt cheese in a sandwich on a sandwich machine instead of trying to grill on a pan on the stove? This needs to be discussed with the teacher and the student present, though often, expect in some cases the parent being there as well.

Model what the students should do and can do in your own kitchen. We’ve been taking photos of Renay taking items out of the oven with two hands in oven mitts, washing dishes in the sink after use, and checking the temperature with a thermometer.

Know your own comfort level with cooking. Okay we’re pretty lucky, Renay knows her way around food. With only a more recent history of some air fryer fails, Renay actually is pretty decent in the kitchen and outdoor kitchen. But if you don’t know how to make a double boiler at home or are confident in using the microwave but not the stove top, then don’t push the envelope too hard. Watch the example of the Food instructor. Try it for yourself without the students watching you. Maybe you’ll get through some tricks. But don’t admit to the kids you are bad at cooking. Admit this instead: “I am working at improving my skills in the kitchen.” Set yourself up for a win to learn alongside the students.

Speaking of Cooking Tricks:

  1. To know if a pan is ready, sprinkle water on the pan while it is on the stove. If you hear the water sizzle away, it is hot. If the water lingers for a few seconds, it’s ready, if the water evaporates, turn down the heat, it’s too hot!
  2. Be patient with yourself. Few people in their home kitchens follow the professional level skills of chopping and other food preparations. At school, we have to follow professional level not just to teach the students, but to avoid food borne illnesses.

We’ve seen a dozen memes talk about how folks should value skills like Foods not just because it is a class. After all, we all eat.

And in case you run into fire in the kitchen, know where the fire extinguisher, the pan lid, and some baking soda are. Never throw water on a fire in a kitchen, especially if you don’t know if the pan has grease or oil in the pan.


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 8 hours, Campus, Cerebral Palsy, Class Specific Strategy, Disabilities, Distance Learning, Foods, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, Intellectual Disabilities, Modeling, OT, paraeducators, parents, Processing Delay, Professionalism, Reframing, Skills Lesson, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on Cooking With Fire