My county went back to school on August 7th, meaning I’ve alternated between being busy with students and being comatose on the sofa. I think I am finally hitting my stride so I can begin blogging again and get back to following those of you whom I so admire.
I have written before about my job being a special education paraprofessional. My students are in the regular classroom, and I support them in keeping up with the on-level classwork. My kids are not the ones usually associated with special education, but they nonetheless have trouble keeping up without help, or perhaps have weak socialization skills leading to difficulties interacting with the teacher or their classmates.
How do I help them? Sometimes they have attention issues and so I literally stand behind them to repeatedly redirect them from distractions to the task at hand. I often do this with non-special education students as well because distractibility is a fairly common trait of 5-10 year-olds. If they are overwhelmed with too many people or too much material presented too quickly, I will take them (and others who may need the break) into a different, quieter room and cover the same content in a small group setting.
For those who would say ADHD is merely an excuse for bad behavior, I invite you to come and sit in on a class with a true ADHD child. Watch as they struggle to do the right thing, but their bodies are in constant motion, as though they are twitching with electricity. I’m not an authority on such things, but I know what I see, and I see that some of these very bright students would fail without someone constantly reminding them what is actually going on in their classrooms.
Dyslexia is commonly known disorder that describes a person’s tendency to see letters and numbers reversed. It is also more common than you think for students to have issues with handwriting called dysgraphia. These students suffer no impairment in cognitive skills, but have a physical impairment that either slows them down or renders their handwriting illegible. You think, so what, they have bad handwriting. Actually, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, if you have trouble writing down notes, then you fall behind and miss important information when you try to catch up. This causes the student to appear to not be paying attention, when in reality they are trying desperately to get it all down. It’s my job to make sure they get everything that they need.
There are plenty of other issues that sound pretty minor, but they can be huge hindrances to a student trying to keep up in today’s competitive environment. I have a job so that children’s true capabilities can shine through challenges that are not at all their fault.