It is the beginning of November and weeks and days are pretty much blending together. Grades are showing up for most students by this point or they are about to. And in the world of technology that now dominates the educational landscape like some Science Fiction novel, to be certain, students are not necessarily thinking about the things that are not happening.
But Renay just came off two major personal holidays this week—Dia de Los Muertos and All Soul’s Day. While Renay admits that they aren’t major holidays she shares with many people normally, there is a profound sense of sadness to her that this is an event now that feels even more isolating though she knows many people celebrate. And through November and December are more holidays that are filled with deeper traditions, and the point is to gather and share the best of the year.
At school, traditions are a bit less personal. Right now, the missing costumes related events, possibly Homecoming for students who have recently graduated from high school, and special gatherings for parents and their children.
Opportunity does arise to make new traditions. Renay had an amazing amount of fun last week during her school’s spirit week. The winner: bring your pet to class day. In a class of students who would never turn on their camera, their pet being welcomed brought half the class willing to take a yearbook screenshot with their pet. Some pets, mostly cats, were not thrilled, but many cats have been champions—one student even left out an ottoman for their cat. The cat was most pleased with this offering as their throne for the day and was happy to nap there next to their student person. The close runner up: Students wearing costumes on Friday. By the way– Renay was “Distance Learning Mission Control”.
And that is the tradition to celebrate: the things we can find now. The smiles on our student’s faces, in their voices, their progress they are making no matter what. There are going to be the students that we worry about—any educator would be worried about any student. Those of us heading into Hybrid are also worried. There are things that are emotionally taxing, the roving that we are not doing, and the speed at which our lives as educators have been way too busy alternating with way too lax in other ways are also challenges. And if we don’t have those meetings with each other, we forget that causal meetings, meetings without intent, provide challenges to our professional growth and chances to learn what the other brings. In summary: we need each other in the education field more than ever.
The traditions to keep
It would be time to always assess what we need to do to be successful. What did work? What will the students remember of their education at this moment in time? Are we providing everything we can as educators to be the guide through the journey. What motivated the students? What brought them some happiness? What did they learn?
And then you take a second, maybe even another second, because these aren’t necessarily concepts students with disabilities share easily with others. But we will tell you that find the joy in the day. That student who needed a million prompts to do one task: he just did a partial task without a prompt. The student that makes you smile has learned to use that smile to make other students smile. The student that is helpful to others has continued to be helpful to others. If as an educator, you are not finding these moments fulfilling, it is all right. There are many things demanding your attention and you are not able to keep track of all of those things right now. But know and have faith that these events are occurring.
One more thing…
Renay was just tapped for something rather exciting coming up. We cannot wait to share with you.
And if you don’t know: We are nearly a month away from sending Renay virtually to SIP. Haven’t signed up yet? It is free and it is centered in California. They have two series, this one is geared just for paraeducators. We are excited to share our work with SIP.
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.