Believe it or not, there was a huge plan at ParaEducate this week to start some new things we talked about recently. In fact, while Renay was on the way to work this morning, plans were being made for this very afternoon.
And then Renay got to work.
And the entire day seemed to be the snowball that wouldn’t form but also wouldn’t stop rolling down the hill.
Days as a paraeducator can be that way. A class that normally has five students with IEPs split between two aides can suddenly become a class that has four students covered by one student for staffing reasons or because there wasn’t a sub that day. A student’s behaviors can be unpredictable one day requiring the case manager, diverting someone who is potentially a restroom support person causing that student to be even later to class. IEP meetings happen, and the support service providers can miss a scheduled meeting with a student, throwing another student off their schedule. A student can be completely focused and on task, ready to make that transition, and does so, but it’s earlier than expected so there are issues when the student makes it to that transition, like their seat is occupied by another student, or the door to the library is locked because the librarian was on their break. For the record, none of the above specifically happened today to Renay, but in the vein of sympathy, it’s about the amount of little things that add up and then pile pretty high in one day.
So, what can you do because downhill is inevitable that day?
Take a deep breath. Today is just one day. It may have felt like this day was going to happen all week because sometimes it does. But it is just a moment. It might be several moments. Taking a deep breath also helps prevent laughing in a student’s face over something that may have just happened. Taking a deep breath gives you a chance to pause before a reaction. Just take a deep breath. Or a few it’s okay, you’ve got time on your side.
Take a little walk. Find a reason to go on an errand with a student. Especially if the student or students are likely to need a lot of breaks. Enjoy sunshine, enjoy nature, and enjoy the quiet of the halls that doesn’t happen any other time of the day.
If the day still isn’t over for you with the last bell, find a trusted co-worker to speak to in a space that is safe for using student names and laugh away from the fact that if anyone had been watching in that moment, they too may have had a similar reaction. You may even learn a few tricks to help mitigate those issues in the future.
Go home, find something that you enjoy. For those who are parents, hug your children (human or animal). For those who are not, call a friend and find a reason to laugh. Ask about their crazy day. Grab some take out or make plans with some co-workers to go enjoy an hour at a restaurant, or join some students on the bleachers at a sporting event. Take yourself out of the role of leader of young minds, school professional, and school employee for the evening. The day sometimes lingers for some, but letting it go, makes it easier.
Speaking of the last bell, that is the really nice thing about hearing that bell, as you watch the students leave campus, the day is mostly over. You may have to put in data for a student, you may have to help clean up the magazine art project, or check in with a co-worker about progress on an oral presentation, but the day is over. The next day will be upon us and the new day is a great day to change the way things happened the previous day and to work on finding coping skills for those speed bumps that seem to make things harder for some students. And, perhaps most importantly, the next day could always potentially be Saturday.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and here. ParaEducate is 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.