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.
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.
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.
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.
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 here, here, here, here, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.