When Working On Modifications

I was burning the midnight oil last night out of pride last night. Not the sort of busting buttons pride, but the sort of anger pride that comes with forgotten promises. And while I complained to someone who knows me all too well about my love of modifications, I’m staring at some pretty hard facts about modifications.

  • If you have a dedicated team for modifications and parallel curriculum in any subject, communicate the protocol. Some things to consider:

Who is going to do what when?

How much time does that person need to turn that modification turned around for a specific group of students?

Who gets to make the decisions about the type and depth of material covered?

Who gets to make the “cut back” or the “stay the course” call? (This one is tricky, if you don’t have a study hall or you don’t know the student well, maybe the final call may not be in your direct ability)

Who trains the new person to do it?

What is appropriate for each student is not always appropriate for all students

  • In a classroom where more than 1 paraeducator, who rides the first chair?

If you ride the “first chair”, to borrow a term from law, it is your job to get second chair up to speed on all student matters and then make decisions about academic directions when first chair is unavailable. And that all parties should know how to work with the student with medical needs.

  • Knowing the difference between “I don’t want to do it” and “I don’t think my student can/needs to”.

This is sometimes a hard choice. When I am tired and a major assignment comes our way or I’m still trying to wrap my head around material from the previous class, a new assignment comes out and my gut reaction is “we’re not doing this.” I need a few hours to figure out how to do this and realize I can get my students to do the assignment too. But when I look at the list of requirements later, and I really think about the students and their needs, sometimes even the outcome of the assignment isn’t worth the energy to put in.

The final bit of information I need to leave you with is that the goal of modifications is to allow a student to demonstrate proficiency and give some students the confidence they need to excel. Good modifications take time. Good modifications address an academic need or an IEP goal and incorporate the academic content to address that goal.

Take your time.

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ParaEducate is a company run to help reach out to paraeducators or paraprofessionals in public K-12 schools, giving advice, talking about publications that ParaEducate produces, and other useful information regarding working in public school settings.
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