We were set to just have a short blog post this month, but then Renay was caught up in an emergency. The good news: everyone is fine. And Renay is fine.
But in this moment, we really do need to talk about the before and after of major events. We have touched on this in different areas before. But responding to the large-scale emergencies, like fires, gas leaks, earthquakes, and so on, on a given campus, there are big rules that need to be followed.
In a large scale emergency that occurs on a school campus:
- Assume good intentions by all parties. Especially in the line of communication during crisis. Not everyone will be in the direct need to know at the moment. And as a team member, the job is to protect identities and the specifics of the situation. However, communication is important for how things should proceed. For example: who is picking up students, where those students should be picked up, how the district office comes to support staff, and what ‘all clear’ looks like.
- All emergency procedures should be known to all staff. Especially long term subsitutes and familiar substitutes. It is not enough to want to just ‘keep the students safe’. The substitute staff should know where the evacution is for every stage of an event. If not, they should know what room is the ‘buddy teacher’ to use in that wing in that area so they are not lost.
- Do not fall for rumor. Do not spread rumor. Especially to students who are asking what is going on. Be honest about what you know and what you do not know. But do not add to rumors.
- Stay calm. This one is hard when things are constantly evolving. Check yourself in the moment if you can. This helps keep some of the students calmer, but it is also all right to know that the students, and especially students with disabilities will be very elevated in their responses.
- Be ready to be exhausted when the main danger has passed. What will this mean? This means probably grabbing fast food on the way home. It means hugging those who are close to you when you get home really hard. It means throwing a ball from a chair for the dog. It means turning on TV and finding your favorite show and just lying there. It means calling a friend and crying. Whatever your coping system is: use it today.
- After action committee will need to be open to hearing from all events. What works? What did not work? Big and small things. And nothing is too small.
Spring Break is on the horizon. But it is not as important as remembering that the days between now and Spring Break are still days to do work and continue making progress. Students are interested in everything but the lesson and for some students, we understand the allure of ‘not school.’
But Renay has been coaching some instructional coaches, academic support for all students at her campus, interventions lately, and wrangling students on progressive testing. More recently though, she has been watching some instructional interventions.
There are always going to be students that will push boundaries. And sometimes the boundaries need to be flexible and sometimes those boundaries need to be hard.
So, when Renay watched a boundary being pushed, Renay did step in briefly but then stepped out and let the instructional coach continue working with the student. For Renay, stepping out of the situation was hard, there were two moments when her educator’s ears were ready to step back in and nothing was dangerous or out of step. But the instructional coach continued with the student letting the boundaries flex to get to the point of the conversation between them. And as the conversation unfolded, Renay was reminded of her early days.
Forging those personal relationships in the early days of being a paraeducator without the support of ears and eyes who are watching out for professional boundaries feels a bit like learning to fly a plane that has not been built yet. But it is important to know that walking away, ending the conversation is just as important. Early in one’s career, you might not know what those moments are. You might have a loose list in your year, but you need to know what might be a good reason to walk out of a conversation with a student.
It will be remiss to just ‘let’ adult/student relationships “happen”. For the instructional coach, they realized that the trajectory of their relationship within the class and connecting with that one student had become more positive over the academic year. Which is great. So they felt the boundaries being pushed were appropriate and helped the student understand the situation being discussed better. Following up after class, the Instructional Coach felt supported and trusted by the team. And that was what matters most.
Do you have any comments about this month’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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.