By: Audrey Buccheri
We can all agree that learning during this pandemic has been a big adjustment. For those of us that have learning differences and are used to receiving more support for both subject teachers and a Special Education teacher, the shift was even more dramatic.
Students with learning differences have plans put in place like a 504 or an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). These students often have modifications to ensure that they learn the information needed in a way that works for them. They often access accommodations and modifications like extended time, help with reading and/or writing, and modifications to assessments or tests, among others.
Some students with learning differences benefit from working remotely due to social anxiety and difficulty remaining on tasks, while other students are not able to manage their time at home.
For some teachers, like WHS special educator Mrs. Butler, a new focus on the whole student over grades has had to be the main focus in learning through COVID-19.
She said, “I think the pandemic has caused me to expand the way I support students whether it is virtually or in a hybrid model. I have changed my focus to be more student centered around wellbeing and mental health first and academic second.”
Focusing more on social and emotional health has been a big theme throughout the pandemic. During Spring 2020, people had to stop and spend time focusing on themselves because the busy life went away. This caused both students and teachers to do things they enjoy rather than their only focus being on school.
During this hard time, teachers need to remember that the home life for each student may look different. For some students, being home can cause a disadvantage if they have other distractions. For students with learning differences, it can harder for them to access the emotional support they can often get easily when in the building.
Mrs.Butler says, “I try to engage with students about their feelings first instead of asking them what their plan of action is, and I try to engage in different ways to match what will support the student best.”
Learning what will support the students best in their different situations has been a priority during this pandemic, showing the students that there is someone there to help.
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