How Far I [Should] Go

Renay is technically on spring break, however, ParaEducate is not. The question we keep getting is what should a paraeducator do on digital learning?

For distance learning, every platform is different, and then there is the question of equity. While students will be competing with their parents during the same hours for internet access, they may also be sharing devices with other siblings. Every school is handling attention to the material differently.

For distance learning, every platform is different, and then there is the question of equity.


What is missing is the ability to check in with students to see understanding or attention to the material that is being given. However, we want to point out that not every student pays attention 100% of the time, we’re certain that Renay only actually pays attention about 10% of the time lost in some thoughts about how to get through to a specific student.

Things Paraeducators can do from a Distance

  1. Prepare materials. Especially true for the students in Preschool, TK, to roughly third grade. And more especially for students who do not have equal access to the internet. Preschool, TK, and Kindergarten students are working on following directions. Some hurdles that can be mitigated by simple modifications, coloring words in the color to use, putting beads to count in a baggy with a pipe cleaner. If available, those should be assembled while wearing gloves and a mask to help limit contamination prior to delivery.
  2. Make videos. Many schools are employing either Google Classroom, School Loop, or other school system for students to check in. Posting a short (less than 30 second) video from the staff letting everyone know that the secretary, the paraeducator, the school nurse, are all still well and working via distance helps out quite a bit, seeing those professionals and being reminded that school is this place students spend typically eight hours a day from is important to many students.
  3. Make concise instructions for transferring the instruction to someone at home of the student. For students with routines, or family who can spend time with the student getting them into a routine with familiar skills is helpful. Look at the schedule of activities, explain every single one to the family via a google doc. Relay these instructions through the case manager. They may have suggestions how to explain this to the family or support provider.
  4. Do not be afraid of technology. Follow your district’s technology policy. Communicate with the other staff through the approved communication methods. Communication is more important than ever now. Whether Microsoft, Google, or other system, check in and see what you might know how to contribute to.
  5. Remember your working hours via your contract. If you’re logging in to work, make sure to follow your district schedule. At the end of the working day, shut down and walk away. Take drinks of water during work. Take the break. The students need those breaks too.
  6. Realize: it may not have been getting done before, but it’s really not going to be done now. Go lower than your student’s ability. They may not have as much support now you are not there to pause and have the student consider a question or to make a drawing.
  7. Support your classroom teachers. Remind them that the students you help support are also in a similar bind. Use the lessons that the classroom teacher provides to build modifications on. Communicate with the case manager. But reach out. Some are struggling just as you are to learn how to support all students.
  8. Get permission to call students who are not checking in. As in use the phone, dial the number on file, and talk and see what might be the problem with the student logging in. Do they have internet? Do they support younger brothers and sisters (cousins?) in school work? Will they need different hours to connect to their teachers. Find out what those students might need.
  9. Take care of yourself.

We would like to take the opportunity to gently nudge everyone and remind them as that many schools are attempting to go to online education this is the first time in a long time to completely reinvent education and make education as inclusive as possible. There are many hurdles like thinking about how to add screen captions and descriptive information, and how to best deliver information to students, but all those things will be worked out, but we need to remember we’re all here together to learn from.

…this is the first time in a long time to completely reinvent education and make education as inclusive as possible.


Stay home. Do a jog around the block if you need to get out. Follow local government’s instructions. Staying healthy helps keeps others healthy.

One more shout out for the resources…

Two weeks ago, this website did not exist. But if you’re looking for some support with gathering resources for distance learning, check out this website Renay helped to work on. More links and information is added daily.

How Far We’ve Come

If you haven’t heard, Crip Camp on Netflix is literally a great documentary about the pursuit of the rights of people with disabilities. Pairing this with the catch up Dan Habib just had with the key interviews on the documentary Including Samuel, we’ve had quite an interesting learning curve the last few days. If you have time, look up Samuel Habib and his film on Judy Heuman, which overlaps the worlds.

The United States is not perfect in looking at the rights of people with disabilities, but we are improving. We have faith that we can get there.

ParaEducate is on Spring Break!

But if you need us, we’re just an email away.

We return April 27th.

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 herehereherehere, 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.

About paraeducate

ParaEducate is a company run to help reach out to paraeducators or paraprofessionals in public K-12 schools, giving advice, talking about publications that ParaEducate produces, and other useful information regarding working in public school settings.
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