Posted by: gravessack | September 22, 2010

What makes a good SEA?

Throughout my Minneapolis Public School career, I have worked with Special Education Assistants (SEA). SEAs help students with disabilities at school with schoolwork, exercise, and some personal care “appointments.” This is the last year I can receive an SEA at school by state law, so I want to give new or future SEAs for high school students some tips on how to be successful.

I want to start off by saying: Students should respect your personality, but you should not do some things as an SEA.

An SEA should help the student do his or her work. SEAs shouldn’t do it for them but help them through it. If the student wants to turn in an incomplete assignment, let him or her do so. During a science lab, an assistant should be engaged with helping the student participate. The SEA should always be looking for unique ways to help accommodate the lab/class for him/her. Also, an assistant should be flexible in case the student has accommodations or just wants a break.

An SEA should focus on his/her student so the regular ed teacher can handle the other students. That means, an SEA should not go off and do something when they are “on the clock” as the student may need help or medical attention at any time.

For some of us (including me), anyone who uses a loud voice can cause us to startle so SEAs should always use a calm voice. No SEA should move another person’s belongings without asking them first. An assistant should let his/her student be like a regular ed student. So, if the student wants to hang out with friends during lunch or needs to do something for athletics, the SEA should help him or her do that. Finally, an assistant should help a student set-up assistive devices, get dressed/undressed in colder weather or for gym class, and help with eating.

All assistants are advised to look over their student’s Individual Education Plan, or IEP, before they start working with their student/s. An IEP describes what services and accommodations a student needs to get depending on their disability.

Written by: Michael L. Sack



  1. Nice post. I agree.

  2. Michael, your points are well placed considering that those who are unaware of the exceptional abilities of students with challenges; be it physical or emotional, most often assume that they are given free pass.
    Contrally to such thinking, my experience has been aside and beyond these challenges are idividuals with deep desires to meet their goals, be taken seriously, treated with the same high expectations set for all students.
    I also come to realise that for those who work with these students need to do everything possible for their students to become self advocates.
    Thanks for your excellent points.

  3. I think we (SEAs) should be able to throw rocks at students to help them move faster. Especially students that make silly baseball picks. Is that bad?

  4. Yea, it weird Ed. By the way mike this off topic

  5. Very interesting and informative; thank you for your good work!
    By the way, going off topic is OK with me, do it more often, will maybe not until after the Twins win the World Series.
    Go Twins!

  6. If SEA’s can throw rocks at students to get them to move faster, than shouldn’t teachers get to throw rocks at annoying Sea’s???

    • That sounds like a great idea!

  7. Hey Sam,

    So glad to see that your love of the Twins continues and you are able connect with other fans. This blog is great, you and Michael make a good team. I appreciate the post about SEA’s, thanks for the tips. Go Twins. Sue

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