Special education teachers adapt to online schooling

Self+contained+teacher+Alexis+Myers+created+a+YouTube+video+for+her+students+demonstrating+methods+to+do+laundry.+The+video+was+apart+of+the+Unique+Learning+Systems+curriculum.+%22U.L.S.+focuses+on+functional+academics+that+includes+daily+living+skills%2C%22+according+to+Myers.

Anna Myers

Self contained teacher Alexis Myers created a YouTube video for her students demonstrating methods to do laundry. The video was apart of the Unique Learning Systems curriculum. "U.L.S. focuses on functional academics that includes daily living skills," according to Myers.

After schools were shut down by Governor Ducey, as a step towards stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting Arizonians, most students took a week to adapt to online schooling platforms and have established a routine to get their work accomplished. Likewise, most teachers have set up their Google classrooms and are simply adjusting to the platform.

This is true of most, not all, of the Perry population. 

The exception?

The 350 or so students that take resource and/or self-contained special education classes.

These students make up about ten percent of the student population, according to self-contained teacher Alexis Myers, and each of them are impacted differently by the school closure. 

The special education program is split into two broad sections. Students that take resource classes usually have a learning disability like dyslexia and need extra help in a subject or two, whereas students in the self-contained program usually have more or different needs depending on their disability. 

Resource teacher Kathryn Bundy explained what she has been doing to adapt her classroom to an online platform. “I am calling home, emailing, and communicating via google.  I have support services in place I.e. one-on-one, small group support through Google meets or telephonically,” she said. 

Meanwhile, self-contained teacher Caroline Cook has been doing things a bit differently based on the needs of her students. Cook laid out that she has “primarily been sending daily emails to parents to keep lines of communication open, dropping off worksheet packets to student’s front door and now implementing Google Classroom to post assignments,” as well as using “[Google] Hangouts to give [students] a platform to ask questions and socialize.”

Both teachers are facing different roadblocks as well. 

Bundy stated that she has been challenged by needing to “correct [students] right away as some need that,” but that “for the most part I am making it work for my class.” 

On the other hand, the challenges that Cook has been facing are more aligned with the needs of her students and parents. “Our students require a little more assistance so parents are needing to help with setting up accounts, showing them how to utilize the web pages, and hold them accountable for keeping up with the assignments,” she explained.

Regardless of the different obstacles that they have been facing, both teachers agreed that this change in routine will only benefit their students and themselves in the long run. Cook detailed that the adaptation “has been a great life lesson,” and Bundy echoed that she simply wants her students to be safe and healthy, a sympathy commonly shared among most educators at this time.