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 | Leave a comment

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

What Are We Supposed To Do?

Renay is looking through some early drafts of an upcoming book but we’re going ahead with this week. But she did want to convey thanks to everyone who checked in on her last week.

With the end of the year looming and all the end of the year events changing nearly daily. But for those of us who have just returned to campus, things are more than just ‘hybrid’ of online and in person. It is a hybrid of both returning to school expectations—like the beginning of the school year—and things winding down—school wide testing and discussions about graduation. It feels very odd considering some of us ‘just got here’.

Echoes in the Room

A polite reminder about over prompting. Especially for our students whose minds wander a lot more than we can imagine. All our students, not just those with attention-based disabilities, are struggling to be in a place and having attention either on the board to a person or to a screen. They are not used to splitting their entire attention in this manner and now they are in person, there are other people to draw attention from. It is certainly not in the same way as prior to Distance Learning, but there are some differences especially if your student was not quite a teenager when the last you saw them prior to returning to campus.

So the over prompting? Yes. When a single instructor gives a specific instruction, count to twenty, wait for the adult, even in a general education class, to redirect and check in with that student. The challenging part—some teachers used to do this subtly, perhaps even walking around the classroom. Subtly from a distance is not something that catches most people’s attention, even as an adult, Renay admits to fumbling many times.

When you re-prompt within the time it takes for a student to loop their mind into the instruction, the student usually does not learn to listen to the first instruction. For some students, they internalize the repetition and then you get an echo of all responses. Give the student that chance to respond. Give the student that connection to the teacher.

Give the student that chance to respond. Give the student that connection to the teacher.

ParaEducate

For students using AAC this is perhaps the most challenging time for them to be using their device. The world is not slowing down so they can catch up.

But Spring…

It is the time of year that most students are challenged anyway with attention. Outside is so nice and it is not just about being outside. The students we have in front of us are very different than the students we had just three months ago, even the squares that are nothing more than a name are different.

Certainly some students are watching videos and not paying attention in class. And many students have not learned the habits of moving from class to class or activity to activity. Most have spent the last months mostly being in one area, perhaps some of the students have not had to move many of their items between spaces.

Natural consequences is the default educator during Spring. If a student is late to class, then whatever they have to do to come in late to a class the student needs to figure that out. It feels harsh at this time of year under the circumstances because a large population of students are not used to coming to class at this point, however, be direct.

  1. Give one warning about when to start packing up. Even for a slow packer.
  2. Just leave the class. The constant reminders will not necessarily change how things unfold for the student, especially for an older student.

Over prompting is literally the number one complaint about paraeducators with students with disabilities. Some students then over-rely on their paraeducators. For even students who will likely be adults with support their entire lives, being over prompted does little to increase the potential of trust. It is not enough that the student has a chance to learn to make a choice we, adult educators, need to respect the amount of time it will take for a student to build the skills they know their voice is respected by people around them. This is one instance where we can build their self-esteem and mutual respect between an educator and a student.

Over prompting is literally the number one complaint about paraeducators with students with disabilities.

ParaEducate

All of the skills we utilize with students at this point of the year are supposed to be building the capacity of that student for ‘whatever is next’. If they need to learn to navigate campus, then give them a little bit more space to get to class without support. If you don’t know what might be ‘next’ for that student by grade level, ask around, your campus might have a general education profile of what they expect students to do by that point in the fall. Realize that there might be a lot of sliding back on the part of the student when you only look at one or two specific behaviors. But overall, have faith that the student will be able to do things and they will figure it out. It feels frustrating because some staff might be using ‘regular’ scheduling in their minds with students, but even with the way things have played out in the last year, there are lessons to still learn at school.

All of the skills we utilize with students at this point of the year are supposed to be building the capacity of that student for ‘whatever is next’.

ParaEducate

Just in Case You Missed It

Renay had a banner three weeks of publishing for Inclusion From Square One. Inclusion From Square One will return in July 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, Campus, Disabilities, Distance Learning, General Education Students, Hybrid, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on What Are We Supposed To Do?

Can You Teach Me About Tomorrow?

Renay told us the first words out of the gate: the weekend was not awesome. It wasn’t just exhaustion related to doing hybrid. It was a series of local deaths that have compounded this weekend. And they were students Renay worked with as a result of inclusion.

This means we have a community that needs to deal with the situation at hand. When discussing the events with students, things may need to be moderated.

We have talked about student death before. And every single time, it is one more gut punch of loss of promise of youth. Even with the youth was doing their best in the community. What we did not really talk about was what to do in the post-vention, or the systematic response.

We have talked about student death before. And every single time, it is one more gut punch of the loss of promise of youth.

ParaEducate

Most districts now have a crisis response team. This includes someone who manages information so the families are not overwhelmed initially. There is also a team response to identify individuals who might be immediately impacted. This also is a management system for providing staff and others information about attending any events the family may open to the general public– outside of Pandemic living.

A few reminders

  1. If you were especially close to any of the student deaths, ask for a time to connect with the counseling services. The District crisis management team will connect you with professional support during this time.
  2. Realize that the passing of our youth is never wanted. And during a Pandemic, it is never wanted even more.
  3. And though it may hurt: if you have been given specific phrasing to read by the district to announce the passing of a fellow student, or even a staff or faculty member, read it verbatim. If you need to step out and cry after, do so. It is a natural response.
  4. If you did not know the youth or staff well, do not feel bad. Support your staff who may have. They may need to step away for a few minutes. They may need to have a moment. Check on them. Let them know they are still valued. A reminder: you are a professional. Students around you may have feelings. Please direct them to the correct staff member in the office to help the students cope. And never be ashamed to admit you also need help.

If you or someone you love needs support, please do not hesitate to reach out to National Suicide Prevention. Chat and phone are both available. Check it out: suicidepreventionlifeline.org


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 #kindness, Campus, Crisis, death, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on Can You Teach Me About Tomorrow?

Where Did You Go?

Admittedly things were a bit unusual yesterday at ParaEducate. Renay was back dealing with a hybrid schedule with students and well, Monday got eaten up. So we post on a Tuesday.

To give you a little perspective of how quickly things turned around for Renay, a week ago: Renay was still distance teaching and learning with the students. There was training. But no amount of training really would explain what would happen yesterday.

So for those of you who have not gone back yet, or those who have returned and re-returned, and re-returned, some thoughts.

  1. We know that technology has been working overtime since last March. And some districts managed to upgrade technology to better support a variety of hybrid learning that will occur in many settings. It may work. It may not work. It may have worked yesterday and magically stopped working tomorrow. It is all right. We can figure it all out.
  2. It is the First Day of School all over again. Kids are nervous. You will be exhausted for all the millions of things you are trying to remember and get across to the students.
  3. Have that plan for the students who do not have coping skills for things that require flexibility. Build that into every moment. Make it a part of the lesson. And that will just be a go-to when things aren’t going right.

Have that plan for the students who do not have coping skills for things that require flexibility. Build that into every moment. Make it a part of the lesson. And that will just be a go-to when things aren’t going right.

ParaEducate

Hybrid is not easy for teachers or paraeducators. It is all too easy to turn your attention to the bodies who share the room with you and forget everyone else. Some thoughts about breaking up the spaces.

  • Decide which students are going to get attention how. Is this a co-teaching situation where one person can develop skills to go between the students who are distance and students who are in front? Is this one person takes the written chat and the other person handles the verbal?
  • If your situation mandates you [adult] needs to maintain six feet of spacing from the students, what does that look like?
  • Groups? Should they be a mix of in person or distance? Should they be just distance verses in person? Figure it out. But either way: headphones. We suggest wired headphones because they force the person to acknowledge their device, and we know that the head phones do not require charging.

The thing we miss

 It is okay to miss things about going into hybrid. Unlike Distance Learning: we knew we were not making a physical connection with our students. Hybrid is the worse sort of challenge especially for students who have developed a need for physical redirection or who need physical feedback that comes from high-fives and fist bumps. We thought we’d be all right. We find this challenge more disappointing that wearing masks while teaching, than technology being uncooperative, or the rushed feeling that happens with every single class.

Yes we know some teachers have returned to high-fives and other forms of physical social praise. We decided not to. Some of our students are not vaccine eligible because they are not sixteen yet. Other students are very immune compromised and we just could not put their families with a potential risk. No amount of hand washing can help that right now.

Something to consider…

No matter where you are personally: this moment in the classroom is a definite mark in history. We still wonder what best practices will rise to the top and not just be a fad or a solution for one moment in time.


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 #kindness, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Campus, Co-teaching, Distance Learning, General Education Teachers, Hybrid, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students | Comments Off on Where Did You Go?

Move Mountains: Work a Miracle

If you haven’t been back on campus, most campuses are in progress of transitioning back to in person or a variation of in person. And for those of you who have been off campus since last March: this is a huge deal to go back in sections, or even as close to 100% student body as possible.

Some reminders that we might need to bring with us as those last campuses migrate back to in person learning.

  • Everyone is in a different place of returning. It will take a lot of grace those first days for students who are in different places about returning, knowing how to participate on a school. And some of those students will not know until the second the first bell rings what that means.
  • Staff are in equally different places of returning. Some staff with health concerns, even with vaccinations, may have personal concerns about getting their emergency treatment at work by coworkers. Think about your coworker who has diabetes, epilepsy, and other hidden disabilities. If you know about their disability, ask them how they want their emergency plan followed now with protocols in place.
  • Have a space for our coteachers and paraeducators. Count on their placement in your classroom.
  • Be ready to help students with mask behavior, at least the ones who are supposed to wear masks.
  • Wash your hands more often.
  • Remember all the increased communication? It needs to return. If you are transitioning to doing a hybrid for your personal work day or if you are staying on campus all day, all the little things matter. If you are bad at checking your email, figure out a system for you to check your email. If you know you need to re-read your email, find that time to re-read.
  • Take the time every day to have the space to be yourself. You have done several dozen new things in the past year. Reaching students online was perhaps the biggest challenge, but there were good things and challenging things about teaching that way.
  • Label everything you intend on bringing. Just in case.
  • Yes, this is going to be very much like the beginning of the school year. Bring your patience and your smile.

Yes, this is going to be very much like the beginning of the school year. Bring your patience and your smile.

ParaEducate

If you don’t know: everything eventually will be all right. Have space for things to go wrong but celebrate the things that are going all right. Don’t forget what you have spent a year learning. Going back is not without the challenges. Take care of each other. Everyone will get what they need.

If you were wondering…

ParaEducate really does not have a stance which is better– distance, hybrid, or in person. We know more students are magically gone and that some feel they have lost ‘time’. In reality, there are only some measures that truly mean we have lost learning. But that learning we have done is different.

We know many students who have just really excelled in distance. We also know we have seen students ignore certain skills or not grow those skills that might benefit them long term. We honestly know that we have to support our staff who are out there doing all three in various capacities.

One more thing…

We just learned this morning that KU SOARS, the summer institute we have attended for the last two years will be in July! We had a lot of fun, and once again, this year, we will be on a virtual platform meeting so many different people. Based in Kansas, KU SOARS 2021 will once again reach out to so many folks about Inclusive Education. We hope you will consider attending. Announced already, July 14, Dan Habib and July 15, Dr. Karrie Shogren with break out sessions July 16. KU SOARS is $25 per person this year.


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, Campus, Co-teaching, Distance Learning, Hybrid, Morale, paraeducators, Professionalism, Reframing, Students | Comments Off on Move Mountains: Work a Miracle

Closer To Where We Started

Renay is filing away taxes for the businesses, writing partial drafts of multiple blog posts, checking an update on some book drafts, and making an outline of material for upcoming discussions. But in the back of her mind, she’s thinking a lot about what Hybrid might look like for the students. This is pretty normal for things that happen in ParaEducate.

One of the most unique things we tap into ParaEducate is the simple fact that there are so many things going on in our world trying to teach folks how to be better paraeducators, we do not have a lot of time to pause and be bored. If we aren’t thinking about an observation of a student, we’re trying to quickly prepare a modification for a student in a matter of minutes.

Some Things On Hybrid

If you have students who follow the Resource Model, or are perhaps fall in the less extensive support needs category of special education, perhaps the best use of your time in hybrid is to help with the chat for students who are asking questions. Why? Because this allows students to get help without you identifying the students who need the most support.

…perhaps the best use of your time in hybrid is to help with the chat for students who are asking questions.

ParaEducate

Those who work with students who fall in the category of inclusion or Extensive Support Needs (sometimes also called low incidence disabilities), your time is more about trying to get students to follow the school patterns and getting used to those patterns in specific rounds of skills because they are re-experiencing school, some at new campuses. And being consistent with those expectations will help students feel at peace.

Knowing all students are re-experiencing school and their adults on campus is very important. Whatever this stage of distance learning looks like at your site, please take time to take care of yourself. There will be rises and falls as more and more students return to school. Keep trying and it will be all right.

Knowing all students are re-experiencing school and their adults on campus is very important.

ParaEducate

What We Don’t Know We Don’t Know

Paraeducators as a whole are not necessarily known for their ability to ask questions. A lot of the job is only about what is right in front of us and how to address those questions that arise from how we interact with those students.

Sometimes the pathways in addressing student needs seems pathless. For example, Reading skills are not this jumble of tasks. There are specific activities needed by students to help reinforce good pre-reading skills before students can just start reading. For some students, this comes very easily, for others there are a lot of scaffolds that some students need to follow specifically prescribed by years of research to get students to reading independently. However, most paraeducators simply by their place in the hierarchy of school literally are not taught the pathways through reading. It is more likely that elementary paraeducators are taught informally, but secondary paraeducators who are working with students who are still learning to read and write often do not know this information. And it is important to get that information. This goes also to math—another pathway to specific skill learning. And then how to determine when it is time to abandon certain tasks in favor of reaching for a calculator and giving the students that time to learn those higher level skills that are otherwise limited.

We know this is very initial, but we will get to this in more detail soon.

Before we leave…

ParaEducate will be off the next two weeks. Mostly for Spring Break and Spring Holiday, but during this time, Renay will be working on Inclusion From Square One. This Spring Quarter issue will be a great span of information. ParaEducate will return for publishing April 5, 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, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Hybrid, Inclusion From Square One, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, publications | Comments Off on Closer To Where We Started