Renay is in the ParaEducate office tinkering away on her final presentation for her student teaching assignments and so that left our weekly blog a little underdeveloped. But as Social-Emotional Learning connections go, this one came to our attention this morning—What are you looking forward to?
It seems so strange over a year into what has been most people’s exposure to a pandemic and yet there are so many things that need attention. And yet, while many students who are twelve and older are getting a chance to have a vaccine against COVID-19, this is maybe the first time we can have this question and be sincere and not about the first round of thoughts of what ‘comes next’.
Some students have trickled back into campus and are grateful for the one thing to pay attention to, but they are enjoying coming home.
Some students are looking forward to the things that come with summer. Whether that might mean a trip somewhere or just less demanding schedules. For some students, this means more responsibilities.
Some were more global. Hugging someone from outside their home. Not wearing a mask everywhere.
Summer has built this new platform of hope. And that’s what we’ve been thinking about the last fourteen months, perhaps more so than most times.
How does this connect?
One of the things we have most definitely observed is that the world is not set up for the responses from students with some disabilities – Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Processing Disorders come to mind first, but most disabilities are not immune. Having space to connect to peers or even the general education teacher is important to their success as a member of the class and especially to students with disabilities. And while those connections do not have to be every hour for all of the days of attendance knowing that connection is genuine for those moments they happen is important.
It is true that some students need to be explicitly told that a response to a silly little question builds community. And some students might be skeptical at the outset. We know Renay usually is naturally skeptical but, in the end, everything is much clearer and we don’t regret the time we spent. Connectors are meant to be five minutes at the top of the class. It is more than just ‘hi, how are you?’ A good connector gives students a chance to find someone else that shares their thoughts. It means that the educators in the room are also demonstrating the best of their connections with each other and the students.
Community makes the moments of crisis easier. It makes the messages of support more genuine. It fosters belonging. It reminds students they are all members of the same community and that for a little while, they have something in common with a student they might not live near or share a community otherwise.
It reminds students they are all members of the same community and that for a little while, they have something in common with a student they might not live near or share a community otherwise.ParaEducate
One more thing
ParaEducate ends their annual blog on June 7, but we will take off Memorial Day Weekend in the United States, May 31, 2021.
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.