Many schools will continue remote learning in the new year, with no end in sight. Regular classroom teachers and students are moving along with varying degrees of success. It’s a struggle for those who had not previously taught or learned online. For students with disabilities, this type of learning can be quite successful, but it takes a lot of planning and support for both teacher and student. Sadly, some special needs kiddos are taking advantage of opportunities to open new windows for gaming and to chat with classmates instead of working. Others are disinterested or simply unable to participate via screens. Although the shortcomings of remote instruction can feel overwhelming, I will highlight some of its advantages for special needs students.
- For those kiddos who experienced high levels of bullying at school, sitting through a lengthy Google Meet or Zoom lesson trumps the bullying which typically occurs at lunch or on the playground.
- If teachers are reasonably tech savvy, they can use platforms which organize assignments and calendars for students. This additional layer of organization supports those students with executive function weaknesses.
- The option to work asynchronously provides more options for those students with attention difficulties.
- Teachers can use a variety of online apps that allow students many response types, such as singing, writing, and voice recording.
- Depending on the individual teacher, special needs students may have one-to-one support that might be difficult to provide in the large classroom setting without some stigmatization. After school chats, lunchtime groupings, and even after school tutoring can provide private and individualized support.
- Some teachers have amped up their level of support for parents of special needs youngsters during this time, including links to resources and more frequent emails. They are also emailing students more frequently.
This period of remote learning can be a wonderful RESET button for students who felt hopeless about school. Teachers have a unique window to build both a sense of community and an improved sense of worth for all during this hardship. It’s a kind of shared struggle, not just a struggle for those already-disheartened kiddos, which may improve both student and teacher empathy for one another, perseverance, and courage.