The Words That Move Us

November is a rather interesting month in the United States. The breaks that surround US holidays for those who participate in those holidays surround gratitude. Giving Thanks is a theme that surrounds much of November.

We have talked about thanks before and all the reasons we share thanks between professionals this time of year, but there is something more important about thanks this year. Districts across the country are experiencing staffing shortages unlike any other year previous. This means there are fewer paraeducators, secretaries, yard supervisors, bus drivers, and in some districts, even teachers.

The world is always changing, but this still feels very different. Teachers are still responding to the pandemic. The short game is very immediate. The long game involves changing education permanently to address the divides that still linger and will continue for the foreseeable future.

So what do we do?

We keep acknowledging that this is still different. Especially to the veteran teachers and staff. For everyone on their first year, know that whatever this is will not last forever. In the meantime, when first year staff ask questions, realize that just about everything is going to start, “In a normal year…” or “Previously we always used to…” And know that years are always going to be different.

We keep acknowledging that this is still different. Especially to the veteran teachers and staff. For everyone on their first year, know that whatever this is will not last forever.

ParaEducate

Do not count out institutional memory. Someone will know something that the campus used to do a few years back that will hopefully jog the memory of the eldest students. These traditions are useful.

Be honest with yourself about what your emotional limits are. Knowing how much you can handle in your day-to-day exchanges will help make yourself much more useful. Everyone is being asked to do ‘more’. And that ‘more’ is eating away at the few people who are not typically responsible for those sorts of actions.

The world keeps spinning and we find ourselves with a new day all the time. We are grateful for all the support we have and the support we eventually will be able to provide in the future after this year is through.

Never underestimate the things you are going through. And that sentence may need you to re-read it again. Your experiences are worthy of being acknowledged, even if only by you. Tell someone else, even if it is a close friend.

We are grateful for you and all you do.

We will see you all in December.


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 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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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We All Fall Down…

If you missed the headline, after seventeen years of working in secondary, Renay was assigned to work elementary this year. Despite the fact that the majority of the students Renay has been working with are just smaller than students she has worked with in a very long time, there were other main similarities she realized.

The biggest simply is, after five weeks with no break, everyone is done and wants a break. For older students this usually looks like not turning in assignments, for younger students this is the inherent need to run back and forth on the playground in some variation of amoeba ball but there is often no ball involved. For staff and teachers, this is when the demands start coming around from the teacher to the students. For students with disabilities, this is typically the time the student will push back. And all everyone wants is just a break. Some districts provide this, some districts do not. If your district does not have a mid fall break, or even a ski week in February, some reminders for everyone to stay cool and professional during this time:

  1. Stay true to the norms of the classroom. Everyone is a member of the community. While some individuals may need specific conversations, reminding everyone that we are together for the foreseeable future is important.
  2. Keep using the visual schedule. Cut back on verbal instructions. This seems harder for younger students and especially students who do not know how to read yet.
  3. Speaking of students who are young: print their instructions. Using a simple font helps limit challenges in willingness to read.
  4. Find a reason to have everyone smile. Whether you take time to speak to each student every day, or do something as a class. Find the smile. Find a laugh

Stay true to the norms of the classroom. Everyone is a member of the community.

ParaEducate

The Number You Have Dialed…

Perhaps this is heading is an older reference and most of our readers will not appreciate the specific sound that phrase makes in some of our memories. But communication is literally the backbone of the entire process of education. Whether it is texting, a system communication like Discord, Slack, or another known app, email, talking, meetings, or written notes, getting information across the entire team is important.

Physically hand confidential information to the case manager. Let the case manager know the day was all right or not.

Taking Care of Yourself…

The first year back is going to be wading through uncharted territory. Even if you did have in person classes last year for the whole year, things are still quite different for many students. Spending the time to acknowledge that being in school is hard and being sincere about it, the longer day, the full attention required, the space to learn and follow directions are all needed for all the students.

It Is October

October is a packed celebration month with the ending of Hispanic Heritage Month, Disability Awareness Month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month…needless to say there is a lot to discuss in October.

Some of our favorite activities are looking at things we can do and things we cannot do without help. And the realization that everyone needs help to do things.

But it is equally important to move beyond ‘awareness’. What are you doing to model acceptance of students with disabilities? What words are you using to help facilitate friendships that will develop over the entire school year and perhaps a life time for the student with a disability?

And if you were wondering, here is a list of everything that happens in October related to disabilities.


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 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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #BetterTogether, #kindness, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Morale, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on We All Fall Down…

Thresholds

Renay started this month talking about a teacher she used to work with. While there were things about this teacher she just did not like, there were many take aways from the way the class was conducted that made sense. Such is the process on the first day of school.

On the first day, the teacher gathered all the students at the door of the classroom. There was a discussion about general expectations, but the teacher ended on this, “When you walk into the classroom, show me you are serious about being in the room right now.” Now to be utterly fair, this was a high school level class so, the range of expectations were quite a bit higher than those brightly covered doors welcoming curiosity and failure that might also be found in preschool and elementary schools.

But this got us thinking about the importance of the door. It is nerve wracking as an adult to walk onto a campus and into a classroom and especially one when you do not know what you might be walking into. Sometimes you walk into a relationship that will define your professional career. Other times you might be walking into a situation with a student and you will need to diffuse that as much as possible. And a few times that might not even go as well as you may have intended.

It is nerve wracking as an adult to walk onto a campus and into a classroom and especially one when you do not know what you might be walking into.

ParaEducate

Before you walk in the door with a full class

  • Get to know the teacher if possible. Not all situations will allow you to get to know the teacher before you walk in for that first class. But the more you know the better things will be.
  • It is a professional relationship. Try not to use positions of authority to leverage your positions, it causes distrust.
  • If you are walking in during the middle of a class block, pause before you walk into the door, take a slow breath and then enter. Be ready to walk into a variety of situations, both positive and negative. And letting go of where you were from is very helpful for many students and teachers.
  • And if you are running in the hall, say after a student, knowing the campus and where to divert students as necessary is very useful. Call the audible down the hall. (Yes, we said shout down the hall ahead so the team knows how to respond.)

Be Ready to walk into a variety of situations, both positive and negative. And letting go of where you were from is very helpful for many students and teachers.

ParaEducate

Other Thresholds

Being a new staff member on a campus and learning how to handle students who have behaviors make one wonder when is ‘enough enough’? Knowing what you will and will not accept from a student, even one who is learning to do ‘school’ is important. Guiding behaviors is not always comparable to bringing up their own children. We do not always know our students the way we know children we are raising in our homes. It is also important to know that though it is key to be consistent with all expectations do not get lost in enforcing expectations at the cost of your personal safety with a student who is about to push or hit.

Edges of Thresholds

Education is a very female dominated industry. However, we are in the business of teaching all children, not just the ones whose identities generally resonate female. And for the most part finding male teachers, especially male teachers in the younger years of students’ education is important. But this also speaks to identity of one’s self. Not all students have positive male role models. Not all students will see themselves in even the most diverse of faculty and staff at any given school campus. But consider that as a factor sometimes when you are frustrated and alone with a student who may just not understand who you are because they are grappling with their understanding of the world and the scope of the world that they can understand. This applies to younger and younger children more so now than ever.

Those First Steps Across…

Some students do better right now on a partial day schedule. Having those conversations before school starts and having an exit strategy is in the student’s best interest. This is a case-by-case basis and starts with trusting the student. Especially the younger students that may have never had a full day of school this is a hard transition. Be ready. Education as we know it looks very different than it ever has and we will adjust to help each other.


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 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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, Inclusion, paraeducators, Professionalism, Special Education Teachers, Students | Comments Off on Thresholds

What Is In Your Bag?

We were wandering through a store the other day and all signs pointed to back-to-school sales. There is a certain amount of educator joy walking by notebook paper, pens, and markers. But it makes one face the truth that perhaps there might be a limit to the future of traditional back to school materials. The majority of last year, even for some students, was distance learning. Returning to school meant that less materials could be used – especially materials that were traditionally shared. But now a new year is about to start off, or has started for some students already.

What can we expect?

If you are in a state that has mandated masks for students: you’re still going to need a mask daily. And perhaps earlier in the summer we collectively had conversations about feeling different about masks at secondary than elementary, but most definitely at elementary and younger where students are not old enough as a whole to be vaccinated and might have contact with adults with high risk or even younger siblings at home. Why should we care?

It has been painfully evident that schools are important to communities. Not just for services for students, but as a vehicle for connectivity for children.

It has been painfully evident that schools are important to communities.

ParaEducate

With this in mind, the new recognition purpose of school: to connect individuals and build the community. And this matters even more for students with disabilities. And we want to state perhaps the most important fact: it is never too late to build that community with students. To value the purpose of school.

And we want to state perhaps the most important fact: it is never too late to build that community with students.

ParaEducate

And what about academics?

Academics is important. However, oddly, when we talked to Renay about the phrase ‘learning loss’, Renay says that she doesn’t believe in ‘learning loss’. But that is also the truth of special education—we meet the students where they are and this includes their academic journeys. So in Renay’s mind, we are not dealing with loss as much as shift in expectation. Where we might have expected that certain benchmarks for a student in skills, we might find ourselves supporting more emerging skills. And while special educators and paraeducators are ready, general education might not. So, providing scaffolds for not only the students but also for the general educators to help this unusual pathway we will experience as professionals.

This takes the whole support ant

Starting off on the right foot

Building your team starts early in the process. Not just thinking about schedules but how to provide access for paraeducators to attend any retreat or early staff meeting. Just to set the tone of being one giant community.

And if you were wondering…

Renay has a computer, a granola bar, a notebook, and a favorite pen.


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 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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

Posted in #TeamInclusion, Begining of the Year, Campus, Disabilities, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on What Is In Your Bag?

Whole Thing Is Going To Turn Out Right

This will start out—this is not the summer blog I had anticipated actually. While from time to time, my ideas are not in third person, today, I am writing to my followers about a change upcoming for ParaEducate.

If you have not been following the subtle changes, and even if you have, I have been pursuing my teaching credential for the past four years. This upcoming academic year, I will be in the final year of my credential and the demands on my time to consult and prepare materials for ParaEducate will be temporarily limited. From a few of the biggest ParaEducate supporters, I have been highly encouraged to scale back ParaEducate. And in the interest of preserving my work-life balance, I will be scaling back the ParaEducate blog from weekly to monthly.

“If you have not been following the subtle changes, and even if you have, I have been pursuing my teaching credential for the past four years.”

Marquez

Admittedly, accepting this change is hard, even on myself, but I know the truth that is there. I most recently re-read the opening introduction from the original text. ParaEducate was about providing a path for paraeducators and their knowledge and simply has always existed because of paraeducators. I think about the energy I put into being a paraeducator and know that I will bring that with me in this next phase of teaching and eventually reaching out and helping to train a full team.

ParaEducate has had several changes over the years, both large and subtle. However, the message remains. ParaEducate is a company training paraeducators for working with students with disabilities in inclusive education settings. The blog will be posted monthly and publications will be limited until my credential finishes. And writing this, my regular followers might gasp at this idea that I will be focused more on my credential.

“However, the message remains. ParaEducate is a company training paraeducators for working with students with disabilities in inclusive education settings.”

Marquez

I have major plans for ParaEducate. And I know in two years, the company will be back in the game just as often and just as successful as it has always been. I am always available for consultation. I can’t wait to share with you what will be on the other side.

If you were wondering: ParaEducate the Training Guide is currently in a draft form. It has not been finalized at this point for publication and is unlikely to make it to publishing before August 20. There are three other works in progress right now, and those too will be on hold until this academic year is done.

But like many times, I will leave you with the words of our tag line: ParaEducate is a company training paraeducators for inclusive practices with students with disabilities in public schools. We share our findings in our publications, in our blog, and in our modified curriculum.


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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.

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Turn the Lights Out…

To be honest, the 2020-2021 academic year had a roller coaster that we never could have ever predicted. Some districts are back with masks. Some districts are back without masks. Some districts came back and then had to shutter very quickly. Others have soldiered on with modifications. And yet, here we are at the end of our academic year.

But it is very evident, no matter what situation your campus is in, though the adults might not be ready to let go, the students have gone through the expected seasonal academic trajectories (excitement, mid-year malaise, pushing back, slack off lessons, and excited for the end.) So what to do when celebrations might be very different than they were in past years? And how do we mark that moment still and allow it to be meaningful?

To Be the Last One Standing…

The ParaEducate office is dealing with preparations for several upcoming title publications. When we signed off for 2020, we had more questions than answers. Without a doubt, the world in August/September for the majority of the districts will be school closer to how we knew it in 2019. And more districts will probably have openings as staff retire. How we train our next wave of staff will matter addressing students who have not had the world of school as their parents have grown up.

Be that person that still remains. By all bets: be the person that is still. There is a lot going on. Finals, good-byes, and of course Congratulations.

Speaking of Congratulations…

It is not Renay’s first student to graduate from college, but Renay did have a student who recently graduated from college. And it was a moment of cheer for the student. While we are looking at the season of promotions, commencements, and graduations, all of these stages matter to students. And when you have a student with a disability, it may seem more significant to that student’s family than the student because they got there. And however they got there, it is a moment worth celebrating.

Celebrating the big milestones helps to make up for all those lulls in their educational journey. And all students appreciate those milestones once things really get going. It is a part of this journey. And it is a part of all the things we have waited for so very long.

Not just our students, but also our staff– retirements, new jobs, new opportunities. Help the students see the growth they can have when they take part and tell that person congratulations.

Before We Sign Off…

If you don’t know, Renay was a ‘theater kid’ in high school and did some directing for projects in college and then for a few years. One of Renay’s favorite traditions after the final night of the show was to stand behind the closed curtains, the house lights off, the stage work lights on and just stand for a moment. It was, truly, as close to the front of the regular stage as Renay usually feels comfortable with. And then she walks away, turns out the stage lights, and exits the stage doors to the quiet of the night. A little heavy, a little light, and knowing the stage will return.

So before you have your final moment on stage as it were with your students, enjoy the moment with your student. Whether that is formal, online, or otherwise.

ParaEducate the Blog will return for the 2021-2022 academic school year the week of August 9, 2021. It is still to be determined if our blog will remain Monday or return to Thursdays. If you have an opinion, let us know.

As always, we will have a floating summer blog post at some point. Check our social media for updates.

And if you did not know, ParaEducate is a small business. Our sales keeps our blog and other related pursuits funded. Thank you for your support.


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.

Posted in #TeamInclusion, Adults with Disabilities, blog, Campus, Disabilities, Distance Learning, End of the Year, General Education Students, Hybrid, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Retirement, Students | Comments Off on Turn the Lights Out…

Take That 2020-2021

So Renay had a bit of a dust up at work. The internet went out as well as power for multiple times during the academic part of the day. While it was eventually resolved, it turns out it was nearly city wide, it felt like one more tumble in the academic year of 2020-2021.

This made us really think about the things that we have heard and seen online about school and perceptions of school and perceptions of student abilities. What does it mean to model perseverance? What does it mean to get up and know you have a plan B, C, and D, and none of them are going to happen? And finally, what does it mean to learn from each other, even in the model of hybrid or online learning?

What are the skills we need?

When this year started, we heard our colleagues talking a lot about grit, perseverance, flexibility, and resilience. These aren’t new concepts. These are words we’ve heard bandied about and encouraged of our students. But never have we had to model this more than in the last academic year. The difference is for this academic year we’ve had to ask “One more thing?” in the most incredulous voice and know we adult educators, have stepped up and will continue. Even when we are out of all the things we use to cope. Even when it sounds like it is literally one more thing.

So, in the moment, there are problems we will solve. Knowing when to throw out the plans and reach for a different day. Knowing everything will work out ultimately and know that what we have is what we can give.

… there are problems we will solve. Knowing when to throw out the plans and reach for a different day. Knowing everything will work out ultimately and know that what we have is what we can give.

ParaEducate

It has never been more important to have these four skills. It has never been more important that our students, who we know are watching, see us attempt to push, even when we might not have all the things we can do. It will be all right. If nothing else we have learned, it will be all right.

These skills are not natural to many students. And certainly not natural to many students with disabilities, though students with disabilities are often taught specific skills to handle things when they are not going well. This is a time to have students step up and use their tools and help other students learn to demonstrate grit, perseverance, flexibility, and resilience.

Learning from a student with a disability is a unique opportunity to have the student with a disability be seen as an expert on something other than their disability or something the student finds fascinating.

What will you take away from this year?

We’ve thought about this a lot. Perhaps more than we should considering everything that will evolve for next year with many districts offering online academies for students and their families who are opting to have a greater online experience for their student.

We want staff and teachers to know that technology is here to stay and it is time to start leveraging that technology. This is hard. Some things, like introductory reading, aren’t easily translated online. Handwriting, the physical act, still has a place in the world. But did it give time for the student whose body is physically not ready yet to start writing?

We want parents to know that we still thank you for trusting us with their child. Five minutes ago, your child was not ready to walk through the door and come to school. And it had nothing to do with masks or no masks or using hand sanitizer. Ten minutes ago, they were wearing a prom outfit. If you really think about the continuum of education—we’ve taken your child and gotten them through to young adulthood mostly the best way the community knows how.

We want the students to know we know there are things that occupy your mind. Whether it was not having food for a day, a week, or the month, or it’s where their best friend really was during class.

We want administrators to know and mostly appreciate that we tried this. It was not great. But if things were to change again, we know we could change and get this done. It was not the best for everyone, and certainly not the way anyone could have ever predicted.

We want the communities we serve to know we see all our students. We want to recognize that the leaders of tomorrow are in our classrooms. We know that this academic year serves as a mark in their lives. Nothing was ever going to change that we know there is an investment in the future of the students that this community serves by having this school, or district, or campus. We know that this campus hopefully represents a safe space for the students who do not otherwise know what a safe place might be. We know that our halls serve more than academics—that social and emotional needs are far greater for many students. We know that families need their students in school not just for the promise of a different future but for the care it provides for students who could not otherwise be at home.

We want to remember and not forget the range of emotions that came from 2020-2021.

One more thing

ParaEducate will not publish next week. We will close for 2020-2021 the following week on June 7.


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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, Adminstrators, Campus, Disabilities, Distance Learning, End of the Year, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Hybrid, paraeducators, parents, Professionalism, Shutdown, Students, Technology, Trauma Sensitive | Comments Off on Take That 2020-2021

Follow Me

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.

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.

ParaEducate

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 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.

Posted in #BetterTogether, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Autism, Campus, Disabilities, End of the Year, General Education Students, Morale, paraeducators, Processing Delay, Professionalism, SEL, Students | Comments Off on Follow Me

Be What Tomorrow Brings

It just seems like yesterday we were setting up for the first day of school via distance. The world has shifted once again and while the dust has not entirely settled, it is time to start wrapping up and reaching for end of the year expectations. While the common unusual fun events like a school sing along or some annual challenge that comes in the late spring might not be there this year, we are still moving ahead with all the things we need to build our campus for that culminating event.

It is still time for school. Even if there are unusual schedules. But do realize that there is that flexibility for relaxing. Whatever that looks like for the students you support. Is it more breaks? Is it fewer demands? It is all right to be aware of what a student can get done and what their attention has them get done. And it is all right that they do not get it done. Give them permission– undoubtedly peers without disabilities are struggling with attention too at this time of year. Just make sure to stay in contact with the teacher about what is getting done. It is always far better to have an accurate representation of what the student can do instead of any work you have helped to produce.

Now is also time to figure out what the student can do with the least amount of support possible. Is it navigating campus? Is it doing an errand independently? Is it asking for help? And it is all right that they fail at this.

Now is also time to figure out what the student can do with the least amount of support possible.

ParaEducate

Enjoy the moments. Perhaps even more so than ever considering the last year we have experienced as a whole, and the year we have yet to have ahead—enjoying the moments we have with our students. What will you remember about each student personally? What will you ask of that student next year? What will you miss about that student?

Perhaps even more so than ever considering the last year we have experienced as a whole, and the year we have yet to have ahead—enjoying the moments we have with our students.

ParaEducate

While we are thinking about a specific student…

What words do you use to describe students you work with? Difficult? Challenging? Cute? Responsible? Exhausting? Focused? Occasionally stuck? Great kid?

Think about the words. Think about the age of your student. While it is socially acceptable to be ‘cute’ under seven years old, how might a teenager react to being described as cute? How might an adult? And yet, all too often people with severe disabilities are described as ‘cute’ and rarely this has anything to do with their clothing.

Describing a student as ‘challenging’ or ‘exhausting’ has two sides. If you believe the student is challenging your ideas of how to best reach them, then keep challenging yourself to think of the best way to reach that student, and that challenge is unfortunately ‘exhausting’. If you believe that the challenge the student presents only serves as a barrier for your relationship, think about how you want your relationships with students, even challenging students, to be? Can you be that safe person in the crisis for that student?

It is also important to think about the descriptors when you see that student in the future. When you see them when they are twenty, thirty, and even older.

Making that transition in your vocabulary ensures some students with disabilities have a point in their life that someone believes that they are capable. And some students may not notice, but you will notice your body language shifts, and the student will see that and respond to that shift.

One more thing…

ParaEducate will end for the 2020-2021 academic year on June 7, 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 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.

Posted in 8 hours, blog, Campus, Disabilities, Distance Learning, End of the Year, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Hybrid, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students | Comments Off on Be What Tomorrow Brings

Sound Bites of Behavior

By this point, the nerves are gone about ‘restarting’. There are still daily issues but now that rhythm has been established, it’s time to revisit addressing behaviors of students in person.

There has to be something to be said for the double exposure right now of spring and restarting school and the complexities of the part of the school year that has no relief between Spring Break to the end of the year except Memorial Day weekend if your campus goes that long. For the entire campus—there is no break from the monotony that exists and sometimes, especially at this time of the year, it is all anyone can handle and it is all any one should be expected at this point of the year.

This is a great time to revisit the school expectations. Five to ten minutes every day, how do you walk into class? How do you get help in the class? How do you wait to come into class? How do you demonstrate the best of your abilities? There are some classes that need to have every point explained in crystal clear expectations, but this is about modeling.

…how do you walk into class? How do you get help in the class? How do you wait to come into class? How do you demonstrate the best of your abilities?

ParaEducate

For students with behavior plans, have you revised it lately? Do the student and their staff know they have a behavior plan? How is that behavior plan being implemented? Is the behavior plan being followed? Have you had that conversation with the campus Behaviorist? This is very important. Get those plans out and review them. They aren’t static they are documents worth revisiting every two to three months.

And we admit, it is a hard time of year to implement and maintain behaviors. And without a doubt the academic year no one could have anticipated. Yes, this can feel overwhelming when most teachers only want to do one thing and do it well. But the students are still going to need guidance and limits no matter the circumstances. Certainly, there are a lot of changes that even hybrid campuses are experiencing. It still may be exciting for some students to meet up with their friends on a regular basis now and exchange those little things that kids just do, even if they have other ways of staying in communication during time away from school.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week

We just would like to shout out to all the educators on a school campus.

  • The ones who are that safe harbor for a student
  • The ones who go the extra mile
  • The ones who know how to give each student what they need and when they need it
  • The ones who know how to listen to the chirp of students
  • The ones who know how to get all the students back when they are going in the wrong direction
  • The ones who know the student who needs to be left alone with some concepts and the ones who need specific direction
  • The ones who know how to bring integrity to all their actions
  • The ones who know how to model kindness daily
  • The ones who know how to mentor students and staff
  • The ones who know how to bring the best they can daily
  • The ones who know that even students need a down day

It has been an incredible year. For those who are still here, we thank you.

Before We Go

We are heading into the annual End of the Year posts. ParaEducate will end for the 2020-2021 academic year on June 6, 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 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.

Posted in Behavior Strategies, Behavorist, Disabilities, Distance Learning, General Education Students, Hybrid, paraeducators, Professionalism, Spring, Students, Support Services | Comments Off on Sound Bites of Behavior