Yes, we promised this yesterday. But yesterday happened and is gone. It is the end of the academic year for ParaEducate. Normally by now, we’ve prepared you for things that can be fun and talked more about celebrations. But this year is entirely different. It is hard to ignore that there are good things that have come from crisis distance learning.
This moment in time, those of us with the ability have helped others rise. We’ve found the words to forge ahead. For our colleagues who have struggled: we have heard from you. We listen. We know this– all crisis parts– is not easy. We know that there are millions of things that demand your attention. And it’s okay. We have you until you’re ready.
We know this– all crisis parts– is not easy. We know that there are millions of things that demand your attention. And it’s okay. We have you until you’re ready.ParaEducate
The Good, Bad, And Frustrations
Some kids are thriving. Renay has noticed that some teens do want to do school like this.
For the students who are working and turning in work, you also notice that spring fever has set in and some of the students are not turning in the quality of work you expect. It is refreshing to know that the students are still being themselves even at a distance.
All those options for turning in ‘different’, are coming to fruition. And students, with less contact with peers are starting to take those little risks. And we welcome those risks.
Inequality. Devices that do not work the same across the board. Accessibility to internet with little brothers, sisters, cousins, parents/adults all using the same internet. For educators with families, scheduling is not something we can just ignore anymore. Helping the children in our shelter in place is as important as supporting
Disinterest. The kids who aren’t interested in distance learning, whether because of their own mental health or because this is not the best way to engage that student.
The constant worry. Is there something you need? Are you not getting this because you don’t have enough examples? What barrier do I need to know about that you aren’t able to articulate? How can we better explain what is going on to our students with the most severe disabilities? How do we rebuild the process of ‘school’ for students who are dependent on routine of ‘school’?
The unanswered questions. These partners with worries, but we have them. And we just need the resilience to write down our questions and keep moving forward. Right now, it’s the end of the year. We have to start dealing with grading and smiles for the end of the school year. Whether or not we can have graduation or if we can have a gathering of our staff for the end of the year sendoff is the last thing on our minds, though we are quite sad that it is not like years past because the individuals leaving have no fewer demands.
Being shut out of student’s lives at school. The kids being shut out from opportunities to build up with each other.
Trying to find the system that will get students to do ‘school’ for the ones who can do school.
Trying to find systems for students to interact in this moment.
We wouldn’t be a last post without some humor
Dangers we never anticipated happening in Distance Learning:
- Feeling sick because the student tossed the computer on the bed and hopped off.
- Watching some students enjoy the ‘chat’ feature when you know most of them have access to audio
- Having the family cat walkthrough on the keyboard. Best distractions while working.
- We believe that we can learn (and teach) via distance and for some, this is working, for some, this is something we try and we know will never work again.
Thinking About The New School Year
There are three potential speculations for most districts.
- We all go back 100% of the time
- We go back with alternative scheduling and some online
- We stay on line 100% of the time
So, what we need to do is think about how best to use paraeducators. Especially in the 100% online situation. But before we get into some details, we need to put the real supports in place.
We know that solutions no matter what involve the adults squaring with their own mental health.
We know that solutions involve all educators no matter what school looks like.
We know that solutions follow local county guidelines, respecting the health of many of our students with disabilities as well as their general education, high risk and low risk peers and the families they return home to daily.
We can still learn from each other. Those professionals who have made the hop into distance learning and feel confident with the tools they have been given should be helping other educators to learn the technology and bridge those gaps that can help students be more successful in their academic progress.
We also want to state that distance learning, even crisis response distance learning is not going away. That the lessons we have learned need to be ready to go and help everyone in the district out as an immediate plan. It is time to reflect and build a plan in place for when the next time we need to switch to distance learning again. What can we best provide for all students? What can we best provide all staff? How do we help our students who are the most in crisis feel supported? We build this new school system carefully.
End of the Year Sign Off
Like all of the country, our entire trajectory was skewed. It probably did not help that we switched to a Monday posting and then our lives got changed more so ParaEducate ended up forgetting to pull together Monday and posted on a Tuesday. A few times…Whoops. But we thank our loyal supporters. It makes all the difference for us.
ParaEducate is a small business. Unlike most small businesses, ParaEducate is able to politely ask you all, wherever you are, to support your local small businesses—the corner market, the special restaurant downtown first. We will be here when you return.
ParaEducate will return for the academic year 2020-2021 on August 3, 2020, no matter how the world looks then. There will be one summer surprise post during this time.
Find kindness. Find joy. Take care of each other.
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 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 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.