What You Don’t Have, What You Don’t Know

The school year is about to start. The school items have been on sale for the time being. We have been all too aware that families are struggling financially, and we know that many more students will likely walk through the door on the first day of school with even less than they normally might have.

And most definitely: this is going to impact the paraeducators as well. Many are making those choices as well for their own families. While the larger discussion should be to Unions and Districts about making equitable pay for all staff and teachers that at least reflects the general cost of living in each area, what are we really going to do when students need a pencil or even a scratch piece of paper.

For those who are able: grab an extra notebook or pack of pencils and donate it to the school for the student who might need that small extra to start the year. For those who have usable supplies, we know they are going to keep going for as long as they can. For items like glue, glue sticks, and markers, that are always needed and dry out or otherwise are consumed and cannot be recycled, have that talk with students about being aware of how much they are using.

Helping students out by providing systems to make sure they have the supplies they need through the school year. Especially ones that are respectful of students’ personal pride.

Remind Me Once Again

Paraeducators are usually at the mercy of whatever ice breaker that a teacher provides for a class on the first day of school. But it is just as important that everyone in the classroom learn each other’s names. No matter the class. The beginning of the year is the easiest. But if the general education teacher wouldn’t mind printing out their role sheet or seating chart so the paraeducator can learn names too while trying to learn things about the student(s) they are working with, it would be really very nice.

Some years, students are just mixed together and they make wonderful friends from classmates. In other years, some students with disabilities just are not that interested in socializing. Finding out a schedule of the student’s day is important to give an idea when it might be time to push a student to cooperate with peers and when it might not be worthwhile. Not every student needs to be friends with every other student in their class, but it will help make things much more enjoyable when there is someone they can trust their own age in any given space.

Not every student needs to be friends with every other student in their class, but it will help make things much more enjoyable when there is someone they can trust their own age in any given space.

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A review of how to make friends with students is never a bad thing.

A review of where the bathrooms are located also is not a bad thing.

Keeping a running of list of things that appear to bother a student. This might be useful later if there are behaviors to avoid or ask questions about.

And for new staff, do not forget to ask them if they know where the staff bathrooms are or if they have had a break. Let them know they can trust you while everyone is running in opposite directions.

And for new staff, do not forget to ask them if they know where the staff bathrooms are or if they have had a break.

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And if nothing else: it is all right to forget some things because there are a lot of things going on and a lot of running in opposite directions. Good luck to those who start in their respective campuses. If your year starts later, get ready. Here we go.


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

Posted in #kindness, 8 hours, Begining of the Year, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, peers, Professionalism, Students | Leave a comment

Don’t Write Us Off Just Yet

Summer has been flying by. Renay has been preparing a rough draft of the newest book and while we all agree it has been long past time that this book is prepared at least in draft form, we are nowhere near ready to publish this book this summer. However, that is not to say that we are not thinking about the upcoming year or how things just always change and the dynamics of how things work in education. And everything is about dynamics.

Dynamics with the students. Dynamics with the teachers. Dynamics with administration. Navigating these ins and outs with all these people can be quite daunting especially when one has been in a particular school for many years. There are the established relationships, then there are the relationships that are in flux, and then there are new relationships.

Navigating these ins and outs [of relationships] with all these people can be quite daunting especially when one has been in a particular school for many years.

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The example we most often refer to is the relationships with students because it is not uncommon to know a student and learn more about that student as time goes on. Especially over the ten to twelve weeks that end in a school year, the student has grown up and changed. And that can be stunning. Last year a student was called a nickname, this year the student wants to be called their given name. The student focuses on three icons on their communication system but now goes into a menu for an additional word. However, the same student enjoys bouncing a ball on the playground or twirling a piece of string. That does not mean to say the student is not growing up. For staff that comes in and out or are reassigned to older students, it is hard to remember that the student is growing up. It is tempting to fall back on a familiar relationship dynamic. But pausing and realizing that the student has changed in the time since you last were together, can help bridge a gap, and allow the student to continue to grow.

For staff that comes in and out or are reassigned to older students, it is hard to remember that the student is growing up. It is tempting to fall back on a familiar relationship dynamic. But pausing and realizing that the student has changed in the time since you last were together, can help bridge a gap, and allow the student to continue to grow.

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Between adults—life changes perspectives. And while working with a student with a disability has the advantage of time, adults may not necessarily have that built-in perspective.

As we head into August, we are looking at scheduling and what retention of staff really means and if there is something we can keep doing to avoid revisiting the first-year paraeducator training for all the staff every year.

The new year is about to reach us ready or not. Hopefully, this year will be much better than the last two years.

ParaEducate blog will return monthly this academic year from August to June.


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

Posted in #TeamInclusion, Adminstrators, Begining of the Year, blog, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Teachers, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students, training | Comments Off on Don’t Write Us Off Just Yet

If The Sky We Look Upon…

Renay is sitting writing thank you notes. It is not exactly a challenge to her, but to be thoughtful and considerate of every person, does take some time. But it is not just about the ‘thank you’. This academic year has been an amazing change. Every thank you between staff is genuine. Every smile and thank you from parents is true. Some come with a gift card, but the words are always there. And this year was hard-fought.

We thank you for staying with our shortened blog post year. We are assessing right now if this was a better format for us and will consider this format for the next academic year.

Should Crumble And Fall

The school year should not end with a funeral. And yet for one school—Robb Elementary in Texas: this is how their year ends. There cannot be enough moments of silence, prayers of support, political movement, or tissues needed.

ParaEducate has very few political stands—gun regulation ones that are in the realm of responsible gun ownership and background checks for all. We are even willing to entertain raising the minimum gun age to twenty-one. While this opinion will undoubtedly be unpopular with many individuals, here is what we do know– there is more to this debate that needs to occur—addressing mental health for all, not just suspected or those currently identified. Our children and our neighborhoods demand this of us. Safety in our places of worship, our grocery stores, and our schools are at stake. We need to ensure our students and our communities are ready to respond to this ever-growing threat.

We know that teachers and paraeducators are far too often being asked to make decisions about how to keep all the students in their classrooms safe. We know that teachers and paraeducators will mostly protect their students. We know that students with physical disabilities and teachers with physical disabilities will be the last helped in emergencies. And even students with emotional disturbances or autism may not reliably respond to unfamiliar adults, especially in traumatic situations.

We know that students with physical disabilities and teachers with physical disabilities will be the last helped in emergencies. And even students with emotional disturbances or autism may not reliably respond to unfamiliar adults, especially in traumatic situations.

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Any evacuation is a cause of stress for everyone on campus. The priority shifts from focusing on trying to make an understanding for most of the campus to staying safe. And that interruption can compound if one is unfamiliar with procedures and information that may or may not come in a timely manner. Making decisions and connecting with all the students is critical for everyone involved.

Things we know that can be improved:

  1. All the teachers and staff need to know what evacuation protocol looks like and where they will go. When things change because some situations can be fluid, staff and teachers come out much more professional when they know what is going on and how they can best support.
  2. Communication in the event of an emergency should be clear. Who gets information how is it ‘telephoned’ down the line? Is there a service? Be clear if the information is coming out of a distribution service like texting, that those who skipped taking their phones for the emergency are shown the information and it is not relayed verbally between staff. This limits the interpretation of information.
  3. Be clear to keep protocol of how to release students to their adults. Be clear about what happens if students just walk off.
  4. Have a procedure for siblings/family members on campus.
  5. Have a process for students of other district staff. Not that district staff children get special treatment, but that they know they are not the last thought or that they are the first picked up in case of emergency.
  6. Debrief with all staff. Not just staff who can come to special sessions. Know when staff return, even briefly that someone should be there for the teacher.
  7. And what does protocol look like for students over the age of eighteen?
  8. If students are sheltering in place, what does that look like, and how does information get shared out?
  9. What is the plan for sheltering in place for students with disabilities? On the second floor? Who lets students who have temporary limited mobility about the plans?

What is the plan for sheltering in place for students with disabilities? On the second floor? Who lets students who have temporary limited mobility about the plans?

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But despite all of this: it is the end of a year of school. And like the last two years, if this is how a year of school unfolds for students with equal amounts of uncertainty for both educators and their students, then this is where we will begin next year. It is often lamented that the only constant is change. And without a doubt, there has been change, some for the better, some for the worse. Now is no longer about ‘what was missed’ as much as, this is simply the time to continue to carry on.

We know that everyone has a lot of feelings about guns, school shootings, and safety. Please do not let the conversations table in your district, have a plan. Our students are counting on us.

If you or some one you know is struggling, please do not hesitate to use the National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

This is not quite the last word…

This is the last blog post for the 2021-2022 academic year. We thank you for allowing us to connect with you all in what has been an absolutely unique academic year. May you all stay safe.

Our annual summer post will come up and we shall return in August 2022. Thank you for the academic year. We will see you all soon.


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

Posted in Autism, Campus, Disabilities, End of the Year, paraeducators, School wide emergency plan, Students | Comments Off on If The Sky We Look Upon…

That Lead To You

It is nearly the end of the academic year. There are certain habits that occur this time of year with students, and it is probably the most important to remember that at the end of the day getting students through some of the challenges of the end of the school year is just a dance of push and pull. And sometimes when you tug, you find the student dragging you in the easier direction (with peers in class), and sometimes you will find that the student is dragging you in the other direction (to nothing that has to do with class or peers. This is what Renay found a few weeks ago with a mapping activity in class.

To be fair, Renay will admit that she has not been trying too hard on the modification front with the students she has been assigned, but since the assignment was a direct instruction, she figured she would convince her students to attend to task and do this with their peers.

Mapping assignments are direct in terms of desired outcomes. Most of the time, students are expected to copy an existing map or read to extract information. In the post COVID era, we have more access to more accurate maps more often, however, the act of writing and identifying locations on a map is important to help with orientation.

We are going to talk through Renay’s steps of preparing this modification because it does represent least to most prompting—the easier of the two main ways of preparing a student to do an assignment for class.

  1. The assignment is given to all students. Nothing is done at this point for the students. Nothing is removed. To be fair: Renay did not know this assignment was coming but again, Renay is not too worried yet.
  2. Wait for students to engage with the material. This part is a little harder. And it involves being patient. Some students started labeling across the class, and others listened to the verbal instructions and nuances of the map. Waiting until all the verbal instructions came through helped Renay strategize some possible interventions that could help the student be independent, but at the official instruction to work time, the student had not engaged in materials yet. Wait another two minutes.
  3. Renay reached and picked up one of the reference materials and started directly modeling for the student how to start the assignment. Prompts like “Did you write your name on your assignment?” and “Hey look the instructions are on the back here, what country should we label first?” helped direct one of the students to the activity. The student chose the country and Renay helped point out the country in the textbook map. This helped create some ownership of identifying and transferring information. And allowed the student to take the lead. And it is the balance between giving enough direction for the student to figure out the steps and letting the student make up steps to help them complete the assignment. In the spring, you do want to give students more space to grow in this regard. Finding out the edges of where they are uncomfortable.
  4. Doing this assignment with two students is a little more challenging. Especially when the motivation is quite different for each student. Giving one student an instruction where they can demonstrate some independence and then giving another student direct instruction helps quite a bit. However, it is also useful to have two or three prepared samples especially if the textbook is not the direct example the students will need to carry with them
  5. But what about students who have limited mobility? Well, Renay does not have a student who has limited mobility at this time, however, Renay has made mapping assignments for students with limited mobility. It involves copies of maps, coloring, lamination, and often assembly with glue or Velcro. Renay’s shortest time on map preparation has been in the ballpark of two hours from start to finish—but she did have help assembling the map.

Wait for students to engage with the material. This part is a little harder. And it involves being patient.

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Ultimately, one of the students had to redo their map because of an interesting interpretation using a marker that placed one of the major continents in contrast with the historic situation being mapped. A labeled map with the countries, a generated key for this student helped clarify independent instructions. Now, during class, all the students who need references during this historic event can turn back in their notes and point to the physical locations being spoken about and the geography of the area being influenced and creating borders can help be clarified.

A labeled map with the countries, a generated key for this student helped clarify independent instructions.

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So, we talked to Renay about peers and projects like this one. And Renay had a few things to keep in mind. While peers are very powerful, keep in mind the stress level of the peer, especially in the spring. Even if the students are rotated, sometimes, especially as students are older, things like AP testing will eat at a student and make working with a peer with a disability harder. There are also simple things like, peers not hearing how a classmate with a disability could contribute to completing an individual assignment.


It’s Teacher Appreciation Week…(Last Week)

All the teachers who have done extraordinary things this year, ‘Thank you’ seems insufficient. Extra sessions with students, working on extra lessons for students who were out sick, managing the return to full campuses, providing food for students who are without, getting student services that they need, building connections in the classroom, understanding what UDL actually is, trying to provide as many alternatives for students to participate with activities, reaching out to parents, and seeing parents who are comfortable without masks and with masks. The world demands change and teachers have managed to do this. And so have paraeducators. But for everyone who works with students, thank you.

A really awesome thank you to the parents who gift and are willing to navigate staff allergies (food, plants, etc). We know it is not a top priority, but those who have allergies appreciate being included in this tiny way.


Mission: Possible, SIP Conference (Also last week…)

We did not live attend as many sessions of Mission: Possible as we would have liked. As many self-advocates presented in their own sessions talking about the experiences they had in their lives. Among them, our friend Beth Foraker, from National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, and her son, Patrick as a self-advocate. But also a team that is supported by Megan Gross, and several other friends of ours were there. While virtual– we were excited to be back together.

Virtual conferences allow for so much possibility, especially with the ability to be at work or home and catch the moments that make us excited again about our jobs. But one day soon, we know we will be in an in-person conference and there will be exciting pictures there too.


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

Posted in #BetterTogether, 8 hours, Class Specific Strategy, Disabilities, General Education Students, Group Work, History, Modeling, Modifications, National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion, ParaEducate, paraeducators, peers, Professionalism, Skills Lesson, Students, Technology | Comments Off on That Lead To You

Mistakes We’ve Made

Renay was clicking along the other day in a class, preparing some materials for the teacher who was leading a discussion in class and there was another support person. Invariably, while Renay was concentrating, a student became animated and loudly contributed their opinion to the class discussion. In that moment, as a paraeducator, Renay had three choices: wait for the teacher to make a decision about how the student was contributing to the discussion, make a decision to help guide the student to a better choice, or do nothing.

Whichever choice sometimes yields within a professional relationship and can result in a mistake.

After seventeen years working with students, Renay still makes the choice between ‘loud’ and ‘quiet’.

Quiet mistakes are positioning ones self to be closer to the student, catching the student’s attention to let them know they have made a mistake, or whispering to the student that their contribution. Loud mistakes are public redirection usually verbal in front of the class, and the by product that the decision will interrupt the entire cycle of the class.

Loud mistakes are Renay’s last choice nearly all the time. Paraeducators, after all are normally, supposed to work in near silence. They are a calming presence, not the energy of the room—that job is the teacher.

Paraeducators, after all are normally, supposed to work in near silence. They are a calming presence, not the energy of the room—that job is the teacher.

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Quiet mistakes are not always mistakes, but they can raise a student’s response. The cues are sometimes more subtle than useful. Quiet mistakes give the student some guidelines to follow along and one of the nicer things about quiet mistakes, it helps cultivate a relationship with most general education teachers. It does not focus attention on any one individual. If the success is that the student learns how far to go to be an active participant in class, then that is the goal. Some students might never know and that will be something they learn to identify that a closely creeping adult is quietly a reminder of that they might need to stop doing a specific action.

But it got us thinking about other mistakes that need to be fixed over time.

How do we teach new staff about these mistakes to make? How do we learn to navigate those professional relationships with a variety of teachers and students to learn the strategies that will work the best to build a series of skills? Professionals cannot be complacent in the nuance of skills needed to work with different students and especially in different contexts—even when the student demonstrates repeated behaviors with a variety of folks. It means the bag of tricks to respond to a student needs to exist and some new colleagues are not always able to intuitively build those skills.

Professionals cannot be complacent in the nuance of skills needed to work with different students and especially in different contexts—even when the student demonstrates repeated behaviors with a variety of folks.

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Working with staff all the time to make sure they have the skills to work with all the students they will encounter helps change the pace of the scramble to respond to students.

One more thing…

This Wednesday, April 6, will be the annual National Paraeducator Appreciation Day. Don’t forget your staff and all they have done this year!


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, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Professionalism, Students, training | Comments Off on Mistakes We’ve Made

Sands of Time

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

All emergency procedures should be known to all staff.

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Walk Away…

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.

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.

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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 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 Adminstrators, Behavior Strategies, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, paraeducators, Professionalism, School wide emergency plan, Special Education Teachers, Students, substitutes | Comments Off on Sands of Time

Ten.

Ten years of ParaEducate. Nine books. Eight months of publishing our blog every academic year. Seven appearances at Cal-TASH Conferences. Six continuous years of our blog. Five different conferences. Four different states for conferences. Three projects in progress. Two people who started ParaEducate. And all started with one book. Reaching over five hundred people in social media monthly. Multiple smaller pieces of curriculum. And we are still going.

What keeps us going?

The fact that every day is truly different. We do not know how what will come back for us and we do not know what the world will ask us to do and step up into. We have had the most incredible support team. But we also know that supportive teams include administrators, special education, general education, and other staff on a given school site. School is a building where support needs to be for all who enter the building.

But we also know that supportive teams include administrators, special education, general education, and other staff on a given school site.

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The students are an easy answer to why we keep coming back, however, as much as we have been doing with our students are only assigned to us for a while. They hopefully grow up and go on to the ‘next thing’, be a new campus or a new part of their lives.

So that brings us to the situation that is literally in our day-to-day: doing the job with fewer people. Paraeducators, like teachers, are either quitting or job-hopping—going to a district with better pay. Frankly, if one is job-hopping, and especially if one is young: we get it. Money is a very enticing factor and finding out one district pays a signing bonus or has a better benefits package can completely make or break an experience. Quitting: we understand that too, no matter how long one has been in the trenches. There is something literally heartbreaking right now. It is not just about being back. It is not just about the fear some people have about transmitting the disease even if vaccinated. It is not just about ‘things being different’. It is trying to balance all the demands that were barely making it by and now all those emotions are continually there. We truly understand that the ask is beyond flexible. We know individuals will do what they need to do and what is happening is beyond unusual. Those who remain, we ask you to remind those in authority that inclusion is the best step forward and there will be no change in that direction we need to provide for our students.

Those who remain, we ask you to remind those in authority that inclusion is the best step forward and there will be no change in that direction we need to provide for our students.

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Getting others to recognize that all educators are truly at a breaking point, beyond those demands we had two years ago, the world is demanding once again on all its citizens to rise up and be the voice of reason.

So, while we weigh the scales of reason, we also are very aware, that like everything else: we need to carry on. Our students still need us to educate them. We still have a professional obligation to be at work for our students. We still have to train our coworkers in working with students, with curriculum, and with sites to make the most of inclusive opportunities for students. We are the continuity that may help some of our students weather whatever this transpires to. We are also prepared to take in any of our students who know this worry directly. Our campuses are opening to respond, and yes, it is one more thing, but this is where we are. We can do this.

Our campuses are opening to respond, and yes, it is one more thing, but this is where we are. We can do this.

ParaEducate

Recognizing that schools are being called on to support students more and more, also places a strain on the purpose of education. However, what more noble response than to help our community and our world.

In that vein, ParaEducate will continue to support paraeducators with curriculum, social-emotional growth for staff and students, working with students with disabilities in public inclusive, K-12, academic settings.

If you are interested, the book that started it all, ParaEducate is available. Our variety of curricula is available. And if you are interested in our other titles, check this out.

ParaEducate will be back in March for our monthly blog post. We thank you for your support for the last ten years. If you are just joining us, we welcome you. We hope to continue to support you and your progress as a paraeducator.


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 blog, Campus, Conferences, Disabilities, General Education Students, General Education Teachers, Modifications, Morale, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Professionalism, Special Education Teachers, Students, Trauma Sensitive | Comments Off on Ten.

On Repeat

If we had a dollar for every time we heard “..but they’ll get noting from [that].”, ParaEducate would easily be traded publically. The expression comes from the belief some people, and then even a subset of people with disabilities, have more potential than others. Where that potential is: academic or social will vary for each individual. The truth is that all students have different strengths and they fall in different areas, and those areas are not always academic in nature. This is a multi-layer reflection of student interests, students’ families, student age, and disability presentation.

Addressing Attitudes

When we hear, “…but they’ll get nothing from that.” We usually have to take a minute. The words fly in the face of Inclusion—the opportunity to know that each student is welcomed and honored. So this is an emotional challenge in many regards.

When we hear, ‘…but they’ll get nothing from that.’ we usually have to take a minute. The words fly int he face of Inclusion — the opportunity to know that each student is welcomed and honored. So this is an emotional challenge in many regards.

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Some responses: Why do you think that? And “What can we do to provide a takeaway for the student?”

A few times, the individual will not want to engage back a response because you were able to reply. The goal is not to start a fight. The goal is to stay on track to being inclusive and engaging the reminder in a nonthreatening way of inclusive values. This can be hard – especially as COVID and teacher attitude wax and wane right now. Allies among other teachers are great, but without actual support, there is little buy-in and reciprocity professionally.

The goal is not to start a fight. The goal is to stay on track to being inclusive and engaging the reminder in a nonthreatening way of inclusive values.

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How do you keep going?

We are reminded of a sign outside a coffee shop we actually don’t go to – “It is your actions that define you to others, not your beliefs”. [If you’re wondering why we don’t visit this store, it isn’t actually in California.]

Every day, the students supported are our students.

Those with and without disabilities.

This is our school.

Our students belong, even when they drive us crazy and make us question why we remain employed.

Every day the students supported are our students. Those with and without disabilities. This is our school. Our students belong, even when they drive us crazy and make us question why we remain employed.

ParaEducate

Like with student behavior, shape what you want from colleagues you work with. This can feel endless, especially right now. Ok—truly this is the “one more thing” potentially now. It is February the weather is unpredictably frozen and too warm. And we mostly all still have masks and students who are ill, staff who are ill. This cannot last forever. But if we give in a little we lose our reminders.

Where is the [SE]Love?

We have been keeping an eye on a growing chorus of educators online about the mental health of in person educators. We concur for the concerns. The Omicron variant in California is starting to wane in stages and we see how drawn the educators are. So how do we support each other educator to educator?

  1. Pick a buddy. Pick several buddies. Whatever you can manage. Make sure to check in every day. Ask for the good, ask for the bad. Some days it might be a load of bad.
  2. Thank them for their work today. Not in a meeting, but come up and thank them for something small. “Thank you for being supportive of the student.” “Thank you for participating in the Kahoot!” “Thank you for offering an alternative activity for the student who does not like Kahoot!”
  3. Provide snacks for coworkers. Just trade off. Finding something to make them smile. It does not have to be a regular thing either. Just a little something once in a while to keep them going, that someone else is thinking about when they should treat themselves.

Educators are not going to make it through this year in one solid piece. Not like past years. Even if you know your buddy is going to retire at the end of the year, keep it up. Be the educator buddy you will need knowing that we are going to finish this year together.

[We’ve] Heard the words before…

We are running through some reading material these days. With Renay refining some work that has been previously stalled, books are on our mind. We are expecting a copy of a book we got suggestions about approaching different disabilities and behaviors, and we are still in the world of the story created by ‘Real’.

As a team of readers, we have the world at our fingertips and it is something we are going to find worthy to unlock for our students. We are getting there. One step at a time.

Hold on, Is this it for February?

No, February is our anniversary month here at ParaEducate. Please hang on for a second February post later this month!


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 #kindness, #TeamInclusion, 8 hours, Campus, Disabilities, General Education Students, Inclusion, Morale, paraeducators, Professionalism, SEL, Students | Comments Off on On Repeat

Where Did You Go?

We entirely missed the month of December. But not truly on purpose. Renay has been dealing with a family issue that will not be easily resolved in the coming future but for now, it has meant we skipped our December post.

But as we sit here on our third day of January 2022, we have a few things on our minds.

Talking to students about their time away

Even prior to the pandemic, schools were discouraging discussions about what students did over their breaks. For a group of students, there would be general conversations about how they may have done activities with their families. For other students, this would be a time to shut down, or avoid contributing to the conversation—their breaks were less than their peers.

For other students, this would be a time to shut down, or avoid contributing to the conversation — their breaks were less than their peers.

ParaEducate

The students who we are thinking about? They include students who may have been recently placed into foster care, students who have had trauma, students who do not have the economic means to have experiences like some peers, students whose family members have passed, and/or students whose only ‘safe’ place is school.

But to some degree, this also includes our students who do not have a means of communicating what happened over the weeks that we were not together.

So what to do?

This is where facilitating listening skills would be useful, but what about the student who does not wish to share their breaks were not as stellar.

Instead of “Tell us what you did over the week off.” Ask, “What do you like about being back at school today?”

And for the students whose breaks were not as fun as some of their peers, “I am glad to have you back.” Is always a good idea.

Now That We’re Back…

It is time to remind students once again how to be at school. Yes, this means staying in line for some things. This means keeping our hands and feet to ourselves, wearing our masks at the campuses that require masks, and this means using our words, however, our words are to be demonstrated. The reminders need to be explicit before each activity. It feels like “one more thing”, but in the long term, it is not.

There will eventually be more from us. But remember to be kind to each other and keep your patience as students return to the classroom.


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 #kindness, 8 hours, Behavior Strategies, blog, Campus, Classroom, Disabilities, Holidays, ParaEducate, paraeducators, Reframing, Students, Trauma, Trauma Sensitive, Winter Holidays | Comments Off on Where Did You Go?

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.

Posted in Campus, paraeducators, Professionalism | Comments Off on The Words That Move Us