If we had a dollar for every time we heard “..but they’ll get noting from [that].”, ParaEducate would easily be traded publically. The expression comes from the belief some people, and then even a subset of people with disabilities, have more potential than others. Where that potential is: academic or social will vary for each individual. The truth is that all students have different strengths and they fall in different areas, and those areas are not always academic in nature. This is a multi-layer reflection of student interests, students’ families, student age, and disability presentation.
When we hear, “…but they’ll get nothing from that.” We usually have to take a minute. The words fly in the face of Inclusion—the opportunity to know that each student is welcomed and honored. So this is an emotional challenge in many regards.
Some responses: Why do you think that? And “What can we do to provide a takeaway for the student?”
A few times, the individual will not want to engage back a response because you were able to reply. The goal is not to start a fight. The goal is to stay on track to being inclusive and engaging the reminder in a nonthreatening way of inclusive values. This can be hard – especially as COVID and teacher attitude wax and wane right now. Allies among other teachers are great, but without actual support, there is little buy-in and reciprocity professionally.
How do you keep going?
We are reminded of a sign outside a coffee shop we actually don’t go to – “It is your actions that define you to others, not your beliefs”. [If you’re wondering why we don’t visit this store, it isn’t actually in California.]
Every day, the students supported are our students.
Those with and without disabilities.
This is our school.
Our students belong, even when they drive us crazy and make us question why we remain employed.
Like with student behavior, shape what you want from colleagues you work with. This can feel endless, especially right now. Ok—truly this is the “one more thing” potentially now. It is February the weather is unpredictably frozen and too warm. And we mostly all still have masks and students who are ill, staff who are ill. This cannot last forever. But if we give in a little we lose our reminders.
Where is the [SE]Love?
We have been keeping an eye on a growing chorus of educators online about the mental health of in person educators. We concur for the concerns. The Omicron variant in California is starting to wane in stages and we see how drawn the educators are. So how do we support each other educator to educator?
- Pick a buddy. Pick several buddies. Whatever you can manage. Make sure to check in every day. Ask for the good, ask for the bad. Some days it might be a load of bad.
- Thank them for their work today. Not in a meeting, but come up and thank them for something small. “Thank you for being supportive of the student.” “Thank you for participating in the Kahoot!” “Thank you for offering an alternative activity for the student who does not like Kahoot!”
- Provide snacks for coworkers. Just trade off. Finding something to make them smile. It does not have to be a regular thing either. Just a little something once in a while to keep them going, that someone else is thinking about when they should treat themselves.
Educators are not going to make it through this year in one solid piece. Not like past years. Even if you know your buddy is going to retire at the end of the year, keep it up. Be the educator buddy you will need knowing that we are going to finish this year together.
[We’ve] Heard the words before…
We are running through some reading material these days. With Renay refining some work that has been previously stalled, books are on our mind. We are expecting a copy of a book we got suggestions about approaching different disabilities and behaviors, and we are still in the world of the story created by ‘Real’.
As a team of readers, we have the world at our fingertips and it is something we are going to find worthy to unlock for our students. We are getting there. One step at a time.
Hold on, Is this it for February?
No, February is our anniversary month here at ParaEducate. Please hang on for a second February post later this month!
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.