Why are We Still Suspending Students?

Despite a lack of evidence that suspension from school has a positive impact on improving behavior, many schools continue to routinely use suspension as an exclusionary punishment. Additionally, current research widely supports the notion that students who are suspended from school are actually impacted negatively. Specifically, suspension often results in students’ continued misbehavior, as well as increasing the likelihood that they will repeat a grade or drop out of school.

And many even become involved in crime. It seems obvious that a call for change is on our doorsteps.

Altering the Pathway that Leads to “Suspension Likely” Behavior

So, when talking about suspension, we can’t just parachute in and land in the middle of a suspension without first examining the pathway that led to that suspension in the first place. Is it possible that by changing our reactions as educators to student behavior that we could actually alter the course of the student’s behavior so that the problem is resolved Continue reading

Working with Paraprofessionals (Part 2)

Communication between Teacher and Paraprofessional in General and Special Education Settings

Communication is something we need to be explicit about if we are indeed going to best meet the needs of our students.  That goes for all adults involved.  General education teachers, special education teachers, teacher assistants, and teacher aides all need to be able to communicate with one another efficiently and effectively. At times, however, speaking with others can be difficult.  That may be due to time constraints, personalities, uncomfortable feelings about having to tell someone else what you would like them to do, speaking up and advocating for a student or for oneself, having to clarify, or just being assertive in general. If there are issues with communication, then there are probably issues in the professional relationships as well. Continue reading

The Pledge

I am not an avid Facebook user but I do have an account, and I peruse the news from my “friends” every few days. Recently several friends posted the same video about 5th grade boys at Franklin Elementary School in Mankato, MN who have befriended a classmate. The story is so touching that I decided to post it to my own Facebook page and to also look more deeply into the issue, since bullying prevention is one of my professional and personal interests.  According to the video, five boys decided this year to look out for James, a student with special needs, who has been bullied in the past. As one of them says, “Why single out somebody who has special needs?” Continue reading

When Norms Mean Something…

One crucial aspect of learning in community, in essence, within the framework of a Professional Learning Community, might just be the norms that each group creates and agrees to abide by when they plan to grow together professionally. Recently, someone said to me, “Every time this group gets together to inquire about practice or hash something out, the norms need to be revisited”. She went on to say that it is vital for the norms to be shared with the group in relation to the work of the day. A facilitator might ask participants to note the agenda, reconnect with the shared norms and determine which norm in particular they will have to pay attention to so that they might collaborate productively. This powerful “check and measure” often gets overlooked because we are all so busy; however, if just a few moments are taken to revisit and recast our alignment with the team rules of engagement, the worktime can be productive. Continue reading

Learning from Lincoln: Leadership Practices for School Success

On February 12, 2017, we acknowledge Abraham Lincoln’s 208th birthday. Although we have combined the celebration for both Abraham Lincoln and George Washington on President’s Day, Abraham Lincoln is worthy of commemoration and study in his own right. Indeed, much has been written about our 16th President. When I did a quick Amazon search for books on Abraham Lincoln I got 26,997 hits! You can find biographies, histories, books on government and politics, and a great number of children’s’ book recounting Lincoln’s life, Presidency and his impact on our history. Continue reading

An Update from our Former Mid-State RBERN Colleague, Collette Richmond

This month we interviewed Collette Richmond, a former resource specialist for the Mid-State RBERN. In September, Collette went back into the classroom to teach ELLs at the Central Square School District. I recently ran into Collette and she graciously agreed to give us all an update on how this transition has been going for her so far.

Why did you decide to go back into the classroom? Continue reading