In this time of uncertainty in the world and education in particular, there is an overwhelming sense of aid out there right now including many resources and fresh ideas. While access to these tools can be beneficial, it is also easy to become overwhelmed with the abundance of materials available at this time. That, coupled with the stresses of trying to provide special education students with access to the general education curriculum in a meaningful and productive way during this time, can lead to frustration and anxiety. Below are some tips and strategies to help organize and reduce that stress and frustration without overwhelming you.
- Keep work consistent with what was done at school to the extent possible. i.e. if you were a high tech class, continue, if you were more paper to pencil, continue in that vein. Remember that routine and continuity is important, especially for our special needs students
- Use resources the students are already familiar with and/or that you yourself are comfortable and confident using. Limit the introduction of new materials and resources to one at a time. A change in routine is already difficult for our students, by adding new technology to this change, you will only further add to their level of stress and anxiety.
- When evaluating a new resource focus on finding tools that will help you carry out your pre-existing classroom routines in this new way or that will add value to your current methods of instruction. We are working on filling gaps of what we are missing from not being in the classroom, we are not trying new things just because. Tools that help streamline and simplify interactions and documentation with students are helpful as well as tools that help to organize you and your students.
- Reach out to parents and students to see how and when they like to communicate based on their schedules and their technical knowledge. Keep in mind that most students’ parents are also working from home and have limited time to help their child during the day.
- Document, document, document: student participation, interactions, assistance on assignment, and your communications with parents.
- Send weekly summaries. It will remind students and parents of expectations and group all of your important communication in one place for easy review.
- Finally, remember to give yourself a break. This is new uncharted territory for all of us and as such there is a big learning curve. The important thing is to maintain contact and continue to foster your relationships with your students and parents.