Renay has been spending March in that whole malaise that focuses on the sprint to Spring Break. There are things that still need to happen. Tests, academic progress, parent-teacher conferences.
But Renay has been noodling some different thoughts. Most recently it is about outside agencies hiring paraeducators. There are many thoughts and while these outside agencies have been a lifeline to many districts since the pandemic, the paraeducator hole that has occurred since the pandemic has not really improved even with the outside agency.
The first issue Renay is primarily concerned about is the outside agency hired paraeducators are not necessarily familiar with the school culture. They are not paid to attend campus meetings. The agency supplies a variety of supervisors who are not familiar with district protocols or the campus climate. Paraeducators who work for these agencies are not always commended for their development of understanding of any given classroom, students with and without disabilities, and the campus culture. The disconnect is a very huge concern because teachers depend on paraeducators to be a part of the community of the school.
But this also provided Renay some time to think about the proximity of paraeducators. In Renay’s experience from time to time, there are two or three paraeducators in a given classroom. And that might be barely enough to cover the students with disabilities in a general education classroom and make sure all the students get what they need, behaviors are responded to based on the behavior intervention plan and supporting the classroom teacher in their selection of activities that are better for some students with disabilities.
In an SDC—special day class, however, there are often more adults because the need of the students can fluctuate so much. Getting on the same page when there are even more adults in a smaller space can be quite challenging. Building that professional eye catch and learning to step away from situations that one might be inadvertently escalating. Knowing that when someone speaks up, it is from a place of professionality and of respect for both the student and the adult is a great way to build that professionalism.
It takes some growing. And can be that challenge when one individual is challenged to see that they are contributing to the reason a student is acting out. And in the after-action follow-up activities, that should occur, framing away from accusations like “You are setting off the student.” Should be avoided.
Recognizing when students can be independent takes some skill. But if you make a habit of giving students an opportunity to try something just because you do not know what will occur, then you might find a student surprising you in positive ways. There are times that this backfires of course and even for students who almost never have that sort of freedom to make mistakes. And we all grow with mistakes. We learn what to fix when we see the mistakes.
Taking a part in the school spirit days works when the communication system is set up to be reliable for everyone involved. Inviting everyone on campus to participate is important not just the students. When you participate, it helps the parents see that there is a community surrounding their students, both with and without disabilities. This little in road helps students build those social connections, especially for students who might not know how to those connections as naturally as the average of their classmates.
National Paraeducator Day
On Wednesday, April 5, 2023, it will be National Paraeducator Day! Thank you to all who have worked alongside students with disabilities.
It is Autism Acceptance Month
For all the students who have taught us what Autism looks like, we thank you. For all the professionals who have Autism, we thank you for being a role model to the students you support.
For the students who do not have Autism and are curious, we implore you to ask those who can share their experiences as individuals who are Autistic.
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 once a month during the academic school year. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.