Remote learning has created a challenging educational environment this school year, including for students with disabilities.
Kara Clarke, a 6th grade Special Education teacher at Windsor Central Middle School, is working to make that environment more rewarding, not just for her students, but also for those throughout the region.
She is one of 14 teachers in Broome and Tioga counties participating in eTeachNY to develop resources and training materials to meet the needs of Students with Disabilities in a Hybrid/Remote Environment.
“The premise is we will come up with a range of steps as a group to develop resources and materials for other teachers through our own practices,” said Mrs. Clarke.
The group will meet bi-weekly until August exploring six barriers students face in remote learning:
- Struggling to keep students focused and engaged
- Ensuring students feel connected and that their social and emotional needs are addressed
- Helping students manage their workload and avoid being overwhelmed
- Supporting students' learning so they can process and retain new content
- Addressing students’ wide range of skills and experiences using technology for learning
- Facilitating family engagement
“We’re diving into making sure students feel connected and addressing social emotional needs. I think this is the way to do it because if they’re not feeling connected and if their social-emotional needs aren’t being met, they won’t be ready to learn,” said Mrs. Clarke.
She already feels the district and her school are taking steps to address the social-emotional needs of students, both in-person and remote. However, this program is making her reimagine her approach.
“Looking at these barriers, I’ve done some self-reflection. Do I create spaces and times for students to have conversations? Do I offer a virtual lunch bunch?” said Clarke.
With increasing numbers of people receiving COVID vaccinations, remote learning may not be as prevalent next school year. However, a number of lessons and techniques teachers are learning during the Pandemic are universal.
“What we’re learning now is what is important. Social-emotional learning is the starting point. We have to make sure kids are here, connected, and ready to learn. That has to be at the forefront,” said Mrs. Clarke.