Monday, May 14, 2012

What Was Behind ParaEducate?

So my latest book, is ParaEducate. Previously, I've stuck to fictional works. Both Small Voices: Delusions, Discourses, and Discoveries and Putting It On The Line were all fictional. I've published some other short stories, but the point is, I like writing my imagination. Characters come to life. I want my readers to care about who I've created in my own head.

But ParaEducate isn't any of that.

First, my day job: I'm a Paraeducator. Purely by job description on my campus, this means I walk around helping students with moderate to severe disabilities. I have a functional knowledge of what to generally expect in every class with a student and how to best get that student to demonstrate their knowledge of the subject at hand. I also represent 1 of roughly 300,000 paraeducators across the country. Eight hours a day, I see students with autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and assorted behaviors. And they bring that with them into the classroom and some days are more successful than others.

As a whole: paraeducators are tended to be "dumped" on:  expected to demonstrate more knowledge than they are capable of with the least amount of resources and training. There are many, many, many, wonderful paraeducators out there. But there is also very high turn over. In my eight years of working full time, there is one person who is still with me at the same campus who started off with me eight years ago. Of the 16 paraeducators on my campus, there were 10 new people this year all of whom have had less than 2 years of full time experience, let alone experience with grades 7, 8, and 9.

I was fortunate, I got to work with Jenny, Megan, and Lisa through my 8 years of being at the same school district and then we all collaborated and created this book. This book covers all the things a paraeducator should be told and a few other things that usually aren't told. Even if you've been at the job for years, it's always hard to remember where you might have first heard something about a specific disability or even about a method that is a part of best practices. Megan did an insane amount of research and helped complete the significant parts that I did not have formal education. (If you've seen, I studied architecture, and I've never regretted one moment of that decision).

ParaEducate is most definitely one of those books that defines a career. And even if you're not going to be a paraeducator for your entire life, you deserve to be given appropriate tools to help you learn to navigate what could be one of the hardest jobs you have the pleasure of ever doing.

If you haven't picked up a copy, take a gander at the sample online. You might see something that sparks your interest. If you have more questions, feel free to leave a comment here I will get back to you.

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