Renay has been on repeated conference calls last week through the weekend. Not just about work, and not all about ParaEducate either.
First of all, we got on a bit of a major project. We’re trying to help a rather huge group internationally address what it will mean to thousands of students with disabilities to be educated via distance. What that would look like for IEP teams, and especially what that will look like for paraeducators.
We would like to go back to the basics for a minute. While Renay has bent a lot of rules in her career, the big rule for paraeducators/IA/paras in general falls under this: paraeducators are to work under the direction of a teacher. Either General Education or Special Education. Running wild and finding a curriculum to implement is not the job description of a paraeducator. Renay really would like to remind everyone that bending rules right now is not in anyone’s best interest.
What can paraeducators do?
- Partner with a teacher to see what can be taught to a student with a disability. Remind the teacher that material needs to be able to enlarged, a specific student need less complexity in their pursuit of a learned topic. You need to be able to advocate for your student at this time, even if your student needs to learn their self-advocacy skills.
- Let a lot of things go. All of the situations that exist for a student at home and are normally broken up by going to school are no longer happening. If a student cannot do work at home, they will not be doing work at home, even if they are the most wonderful student. Families may not have resources, even if the school provides the student with a laptop.
- One more thought: many paraeducators are also likely not to have resources. The Districts you support need to have a plan in place to support paraeducators who do not have technology or technology that is current enough to handle modern task demands.
- Keep your mind together, keep a schedule. Many paraeducators do have families. Keeping a schedule of wake up and getting dressed, going outside for a walk in the neighborhood, all of these things help keep things going for the time being. You’re going to have the family dog or cat walk through a computer screen some of the time. And someone’s little one will ask for a snack in the middle of a video call.
- Remind up the hierarchy that while we are not going to throw the towel in on any student, this is highly unusual. The reaction to preventing COVID-19 from spreading is not something that happens often enough to have a real plan in place for people. As much as the families need relief, we do too. And we are going to do our best professional work that we can do. But some things need to have leniency.
We are here for you all professionally. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Follow local government’s requests.
A thought for the week
If you are not likely to be affected by COVID-19 this would be a good time to remind you many students with disabilities may also have complex medical needs that put them at a higher risk than other people. Please refrain from any social visits. Please wash your hands regularly. Please keep the six-foot distance when out in public.
Economic Responsibility in Times of Social Distancing
ParaEducate is a small business. But unlike a restaurant business, ParaEducate can weather this shut down fairly well.
Please support your local economy by ordering out at some restaurants for take out.
As a country, COVID-19 will be making the rounds for at least the remainder of the year. When we return to life as we know it, please consider supporting ParaEducate by buying a book or choosing one of our lesson packets found online.
One more note
Paraeducate intended to have Spring Break in April. And we are going to keep our “spring break” then. For the next few weeks, we will be working on some backlogged publications hoping to make progress. ParaEducate will take a two-week break on April 13, returning April 27.
Thank you, stay safe, take care of each other.
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 here, here, here, here, 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.