Yet again, thanks to years of practice with not only content, but familiarity with the curriculum, Renay was able to turn a lesson plan that was given at the start of class for students who are working below grade level. But this isn’t always the story for most paraeducators.
Time is such an important idea. Time runs through the day in uneven chunks. Some classes run quickly, others drag on forever. And no matter what you do as a paraeducator you are at the mercy of Time. There is never enough and there is always too much. And you’re also having to respect the pace of the class, the pace of the students, the student’s breaks, and honoring the IEP and other goals.
So what are things you can do?
Well, there’s always On the Fly Adaptations and Modifications. You can cut down the number of problems, you can look for lower complexity, and you can work from the book issued by the class and look at pictures. If your student has access to technology, you can look up videos that may be relevant to the topic.
You can talk to the teacher about getting you materials before you walk through the door. You can even get your case manager to help advocate for you if your repeated requests aren’t being honored. Please also be aware there are certain times of the year that just are crazier. These are usually the first weeks of the new academic term and then whenever your state testing starts.
You can honestly wait out a year in any academic class to learn the specific nuances the students are learning. Seeing how the material is presented and the explorations that are encouraged by the teacher help shape the way you might lead a student through an activity. This is an option for those who are willing to put in the few years.
You can have short conversations with the classroom teacher about the goals for each covered unit or goals they want for students to accomplish and what those goals might look like for any students with disabilities. You need to be well aware of any accommodation a student might be able to receive to make their academic day easier. Great times to meet are usually centered over lunch or those first five minutes going out to recess or passing period. Be focused, be respectful, have some ideas what you think the student can contribute to the class.
Other places to get time, if a student is absent or if you can get someone to cover your place for a time. Those are great times to review upcoming sections or to understand the needs of a specific student. Team up with someone who works well with a student to see what they are offering the student and how successful those strategies are.
Time continues to be the enemy and the friend depending on the student and where they are in their academic years. Time is slipping away from us but enjoy the moments you have with your student. There is a lot of school year left, you may miss a chance otherwise to see how far your student has come.
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 here, here, here, here, 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.