Renay was telling us the other day how she had clearly become a veteran. There was a recent hire in the room helping her with direct instruction and on the other side of the room was a veteran paraeducator with a student in the middle of some behaviors that were increasingly getting loud and more dramatic. The Veteran, was dealing though the recent hire was very uneasy with the situation as the student’s behavior was becoming louder. The other students were employing time tested strategies, noise canceling headphones, asking to work outside, and the students were allowed as they were.
In addition to supervising students and their work Renay was preparing for another class later in the day by reviewing the strategies students would be expected to use in class. While Renay wasn’t efficiently working, she was working. Meanwhile the new hire was looking over at the other student.
After class was excused for the day, the new hire looked over at Renay. “How do you do that?”
Renay spoke to the new hire and explained that veterans trust each other. She then also explained to the new hire that their job in the event that the student’s behavior needed more support was that he was to take the kids elsewhere on campus that the veterans, with experience in different behavior interventions, even for tantrums and meltdowns, they’d work together.
That feeling of being unsettled when it appears that a student is trying to purposely hurt a coworker shouldn’t be an easy one to over look. It takes a long time to not react with the little slaps or punches some students employ in a way to communicate displeasure with being held to a standard when their favorite activity is so much more attractive. And every veteran, no matter how seasoned, has limits to what they will tolerate from a student’s behavior.
Some things to keep in mind before stepping in:
- Ask before stepping in. Letting the staff member really know that you know they are struggling but also being aware that they need to call the shots in the relationship with the student.
- The other students come first. If a student in having a hard time communicating or is refusing a choice and starts to be very upset about the choice, the other students in the room come first. Whether this means they go out to enjoy the wonders all around campus or learn strategies to cope, that may be on a day to day basis.
- Know that the main behaviors won’t last forever. Behaviors such as hitting or tossing are a part of communication. Responding with, “I am sorry to see you are upsets. We can wait until you’re ready.” Or redirecting, “I see you were doing a classroom job, can you show me how it is done?”
- It is okay to be unsettled. It’s not the way folks think classrooms, any classroom should be. If you have questions, please ask the case manager or even someone who works with the student. They will be as honest as they can be so you can better help support that student learning to work in a classroom environment and then eventually other things in the world.
Some behaviors feel like they will take forever, but the students do learn who they can get the results they’d prefer very quickly. One day there will be a new challenge or a complete change and the nostalgia will kick in and you can relax for a little bit and remember when just getting through two activities was such a chore.
It’s on our mind…
For years now, we’ve observed a suspicious rise in kids who aren’t motivated. Grades, calls home to parents or guardians, self-satisfaction aren’t motivators. Small rewards daily aren’t motivators. It doesn’t matter if students are being asked to build and apply skills, ask to question the status quo. And it certainly doesn’t matter how old the student is, if there is something unsettling at home, or if they’re dealing with bigger personal issues.
But we’re not unaware that this is hard to deal with. It’s frustrating. As educators, even the most basic level of every class is necessary to move beyond the classroom. We also are very aware that retaining students doesn’t change outcomes.
The students aren’t all students who have disabilities, but often they are students who do and the student has decided, for good or bad, that they will not put in any effort into their formal education.
It is hard as an educator knowing that students don’t know what awaits them after high school, with and without college. But educators don’t want to give up on any one student. Certainly some educators are better suited to some student types than others, like all personal interactions. But when it’s consistent from instructor to instructor, with no mater of approach, it’s disheartening to watch a student just be ‘housed’ in any education system. We’re looking into this issue. We wished we have answers.
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.