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My role is not all about intervention, but there is a component of that. I work with lots of groups of students each day, from Kindergarten to Grade 3. Thanks to the flexibility of our wonderful primary Learning Resource Teacher, I’m able to support most of my groups in her classroom, so that the teachers can support small groups of other students in their rooms. This creates a quieter classroom atmosphere for both of us, and that seems to benefit these primary readers. That said, this approach doesn’t work for everyone.

Helping Support Transitions

Sometimes withdrawing students from their classroom for short periods of time creates stress around transitions. We’ve tried different ways to support students with transitions by,

  • the use of visuals.
  • the use of a snack (why not eat and learn?!).
  • reminders about the amount of time left.
  • the use of a visual timer.
  • the use of transitional objects.
  • a slower transition, which can be more responsive to kids.

This has worked for many, but not for all.

When These Strategies Don’t Work

The other day, I recognized that this plan was not working for a child. I’ve tried consistent options for weeks, and even attempted a few different options based on some feedback from support staff. Still this child is struggling, and this is resulting in a dysregulated student going back to the classroom and the impact on the learners both in the classroom and in the small group. I mentioned my concerns to the Learning Resource Teacher, who observed the difficulties. She wondered if the child is ready for a group right now.

I completely understand and agree with her, but I have this voice in my head from our Reading Specialist Meetings. Our principal for the Reading Specialist Team made a comment at our October meeting, which I reflected on after a successful learning opportunity a couple of weeks ago.

Screenshot of Aviva's Tweet: Last week a child with autism saw me taking a Gr. 3 group, & joined the end of the line. He was so engaged that I spoke to the classroom educator & EA about him continuing to come. The use of the First/Then board, had him participating in the teaching time & the learning time.

If I believe that “every child deserves to learn how to read” — which I really do — then how will my actions support this belief if I can no longer support this student in a small group? I realize that every child learning how to read does not rest solely on me, but I also know that my small group helps target the specific skills that this child needs. That said, if a child is not “calm and alert,” are they ready to learn? This is my conundrum!

Transitions: A Possible Solution

Since I work closely with the primary educators, I decided to bring my problem to the classroom teacher and the Educational Assistant in the room. Both are very flexible and open to different options. Together, we thought of an idea. We realize that this is an example of stress behaviour, so maybe eliminating the transition from the classroom and giving the child a chance to slowly adjust to being at school before this learning time will make a difference.

  • The EA is going to support some sensory play when this child comes into the room, as we all know that this student thrives on sensory experiences and they calm her.
  • I am going to come into the classroom to support this student, either by herself or with one other child that I also support in the room.
  • We will make the teaching time shorter, and allow for it to take place wherever she is at the time, so that we do not need to incorporate any more transitions.

The EA is also going to watch this group time, so that she can support the learning in the classroom along with the teacher. Now my no more group time, instead became a new small group option just for her.

Is This All About Self-Reg?

We know that Self-Reg begins with relationships, and knowing the child and what she needs, allowed us to come up with a solution that still allows her to get support. This made me think more about the “self” component of Self-Reg. What works for one student — or even many students — might not work for everyone. What does work instead? How might we change our approaches to support even more learners? I appreciate the student who helped me reconsider options, and the educators that worked with me on a solution for this child — not blaming her for what she couldn’t do, but instead, recognizing the stress and finding a way to reduce it. I teach with incredible people!

Check out our Self-Reg for Education Assistants Certificate Program HERE.

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