For that new paraeducator, one might wonder when formal training begins. Especially since you were hired and then assigned a campus and then assigned a student or group of students and you’re really wondering what you’re doing. The good news: unless you’re curled up in a corner crying every day, you’re doing just fine.
But that is the problem: for students, and especially students with disabilities, “fine” may not be enough. You’re covering the basics, if they’re able to at least to eat something during the day and feel safe at school, everything else should be easy right?
Some districts have annual training. Some districts tell you they have “trainings” but these are really employee orientations. Other districts believe in shouting some key hints at employees as they are hurried down the hall.
So what things should you really know about? What resources are still out there? How do I get better?
Things you should know about:
Confidentiality is the backbone of the entire process. The entire class may know a certain student has a specific disability, but don’t shout you need to take a student to a restroom. Or students who are more autonomous are most often very sensitive to their deficits and try to compensate with other behaviors. Details of a student’s day unless it involved an injury do not need to be detailed at the end of the day at drop off.
Ask questions of the veterans. You might not always see them, but when you get a chance, stop them in the hall if you have a question. They might be able to direct you in the right direction
Communicate anything that seems odd to the case manager, hopefully the case manager has had a history with the student already and can give you some important pointers.
It’s just school. That moment when the student was overwhelmed, no matter what, that matters more than any academics. Even in high school, approaching a diploma, it’s just school. This one moment, this one assignment isn’t going to cause anyone to have lasting repercussions.
A rapport with a student is a good thing to have, but one can only be truly established when you know the limits of being the adult – especially a school adult—in the student’s life. Professionalism is a key in the relationship. You aren’t their friend. You are responsible for their well-being and their academic progress in the eight hours in a day.
Celebrate the good moments. Sometimes the good moments feel further away than necessary, but realizing that there are good moments makes the long days easier to manage.
Do you have any questions about this week’s blog? Do you want to offer a guest blog? 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.