We thought we’d start addressing hybrid learning this week. We know many schools are beginning to start their process of preparing hybrid learning if they aren’t already there. However, we got a concern that came across Renay’s desk.
The concern might as well have been dancing with air horns tied to the feet. “Are paraeducators doing less in distance learning.”
We have to say, every single time someone asks Renay if she’s doing less, she laughs. Since the start of Distance Learning, Renay says it’s actually probable that her work load has doubled, her commute is now nearly only five minutes (the time it takes to boot up three different devices and make sure they are fully plugged in for the day.) Yes, Renay has four academic classes this ‘term’ right now. But the hours are the same. Renay still has to scramble to figure out how to do the work, provide support to students who are even less likely to ask or want support, and connect students to resources to make their education possible. Renay is online for nearly seven hours straight just for work. And that includes meetings, connecting with general education teachers, responding to email, writing modifications, and trying to figure out how to new distance learning options for a student might work differently.
Educators are constantly trying to improve things for as many students as possible. We believe that everyone on any given campus in any given current set up are spread exceedingly thin right now and that educators need support emotionally and professionally.
At ParaEducate, we are pretty certain there might be individuals across every district who are working less. And we don’t want to speculate why. We know the majority of staff in every campus are working their tails off trying to make distance learning work for as many students as possible.
Let’s Play With a Cactus…
We have decided to start talking about things with regards to distance learning a little more strategically. For our first round, we look at using the cameras…
Cameras on or Cameras off?
|Cameras on||Cameras Off|
|Statistically speaking: the student is more likely to be engaged in the work. Educators can ‘read’ the room, and adjust for students who need support |
Seeing peers: Older students have more ways of seeing their peers, younger students may not. Seeing the person, not just the name on the screen helps those students know things are ‘all right’.
|Provide equity: students who do not have equal access to quality internet are more likely to be able to stay on if more people’s cameras are off |
Emotional crutch: Not just for the student with known anxiety that sea of faces is hard to sort through.
Provide students privacy: not all students know that their peers may be sharing a smaller space with four or five other siblings or cousins, or perhaps family friends. And especially for students who are in group homes. It’s different if you’re a friend. But a classroom is not a friendship. And certainly your teacher is not your friend.
Is there something we’ve forgotten in either category? We might not know all the benefits of either
We’re On Our Way…
It is October. It is one of the most celebrated months for disabilities.
Just take a look at a partial list here:
· Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
· Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Month
· Blindness Awareness Month
· Celiac Disease Awareness Month
· Celiac Sprue Awareness Month
· Dwarfism Awareness Month
· Dysautonomia Awareness Month
· Dyslexia Awareness Month
· Global ADHD Awareness Month
· Global Diversity Awareness Month
· Head Start Awareness Month
· International Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)
· Long-Term Care Planning Month
· Lupus Awareness Month
· Mental Illness Awareness Month
· National Audiology Awareness Month
· National Critical Illness Awareness Month
· National Depression Education and Awareness Month
· National Disability Employment Awareness Month
· National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
· National Learning and Development Month
· National Sensory Awareness Month
· National Service Dog Month
· National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
· National Stop Bullying Month
· National Substance Abuse Prevention Month
· Rett Syndrome Awareness Month
· Spina Bifida Prevention Month
· World Blindness Awareness Month
So while this is an impressive list, the real question is ‘what to do’ about the ‘Awareness’? Can I, as an individual, move to an action? Do I need to talk to other people more? Do I need to lobby my local elected officials to do more for people with disabilities? What can I do?
- Take time to learn how the students you work with have their disabilities affect them.
- Give the students you work with space to make mistakes
- Ask the student what they need before jumping in.
If you have not met a person with a specific disability, don’t worry. You may one day.
A Long Awaited Announcement
Renay is speaking in a Paraeducator series hosted by Supporting Inclusive Practices. They are a California group working on helping educators become more inclusive. We are very honored and excited to be connecting with many folks up and down the State of California.
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.