Paraeducators

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26 Apr: Monthly Series- Post 3: Engaging ALL students

Most educators I come into contact with say they are committed to inclusive practices and I believe in their hearts they have that commitment. However, actually doing the things that help include or engage all students in the classroom and learning process is not that easy. There is such a natural pull to engage more with students whose ways of processing information are like our own (like being highly verbal or how fast one can “think on their feet) or with those who we share cultural identity or political beliefs with. Basically, we tend to be most comfortable when we are engaging with people who are more like us or those who make our jobs easier. If we look at…

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10 Apr: Monthly Series- Post 2: Embracing Diversity

In my last blog I focused on the word “differences” as a way to start understanding diversity. Another word I used a lot was “recognition”. We need to continually be aware that people and groups are unique and that an individual’s or group’s uniqueness extends way beyond what our eyes can see. But the concept of diversity is more than just recognizing or being aware of differences. We also need to embrace or accept those differences. Thus, diversity involves both recognition and acceptance. I actually like the word “embrace” because for me it implies getting on board with things that are different from my own ways and actually celebrating the differences between others and myself. Recognizing individual or group differences…

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28 Mar: Monthly Series – Post 1: Diversity and Inclusive Practices

By Dr. Skip Greenwood The concept of diversity is so complex that it’s a challenge to figure out where to even start talking about it. To better understand a concept I always look for key words or phrases in how that concept is defined or talked about. Webster defines diversity as “the condition of having or being composed of differing elements”: especially “the inclusion of different types of people (such as different races or cultures) in a group or organization”. A key word for me is “different”. What I have learned is the word “different” is more than seeing the obvious contrasts between individuals or groups such as sex, age, or color of skin. When it comes to diversity the…

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14 Mar: Regulate: Sometimes it is all you do

There are a lot of times I’m called into a situation with a dysregulated student. Even when teachers or paraeducators have a lot of training in behavior, they still aren’t always clear on what to say or do with a student who is severely agitated. When I’m working with a student in this state, my usual mantra is that all I’m going to do is work on bringing this student’s arousal level back down. This outlook helps me for a few reasons. First, I don’t have any expectation that I’m going to teach a lesson, win a battle, get some math done, get back on schedule, bargain, reason, motivate or do anything else with that student. Second, it allows me…

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06 Mar: The Magic Wand: It’s here!

Educators are often expected to fix almost everything. And there’s a one-liner educators often use about bringing their “magic wand” to a situation. Yeah, that’s educator sarcasm. But if there is a magic wand out there in working with students with emotional and behavioral difficulties, I have a guess at what it is – Managing your non-verbal communication!. Let’s start with the numbers. People get about 93% of your spoken message from your non-verbal communication: tone, rate of speech, posture, volume, facial expressions, etc. Students with a history of trauma over-rely on non-verbal cues to scan for perceived danger. In short, managing your non-verbal communication with students is as close as you are going to get to a magic wand!

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01 Feb: “I’m Not Gonna Do It!”

I know, if you had a nickel for every time a student told you they “weren’t gonna do it” you would be retired in Maui right now. What’s a good response to this time honored student declaration? I think by now you probably know that “Oh yes you are!” is not always the most successful. Here’s a few others: 1. “What seems to be the problem?” – This, said in a curious tone (as if you completely did not expect the refusal) along with a helpful stance does wonders. 2. “Okay.” – Said with a nod and an inquisitive look (as if there must be more to the student’s statement that he is about to reveal) creates a nice awkward…