Special Educators, let me affirm you: You are off to a great start

I received a phone call from a teacher who was extremely overwhelmed by the fact that her school was moving online the next day and she feltshe had no plan.  When I asked her to start telling me about what she has already started thinking about, she began to share multiple ideas for her initial steps. After each idea that she shared, I found myself nodding in agreement with some “Uh huhs” and “Yeps” and “Sounds Greats.”  And then when she was done, all I said was, “Yep, you are on the right track!” which resulted in a pause and then a deep sigh of relief on the line. After we talked for a little while longer and discussed “phase 2” of her plan, she put into words what educators across the United States are feeling right now.

 “My kids deserve the best, and I am not even close to good right now.”

And there it is. Our love for our kids is likely creating a standard or a bar that we feel the pressure to meet, so that we don’t fail them. However, in this unprecedented time of schools across the nation rolling out remote learning and online service delivery, we need to reconsider “What is our best?” in light of the current situation.

So, let me help you reset your standard and help you figure out what your BEST is as you roll out online service delivery. When I am listening to, and thought-partnering with, teachers as they are planning, here are the indicators I am listening for:

  • Keep your safety and your students’ safety front and center of all programming decisions!
  • Consistently work to engage and coordinate with your students and their families.
  • Document attempts made to communicate with parents and document any and all agreements and plans made with the family for how online services will look in a way that aligns to district expectations.
  • Build opportunities for connection with kids and between kids in order to strategically support their social and emotional needs right now.

Now, our best is not to remain stagnant, but to always be evolving and meeting our students’ and families’ needs as we encounter them during our online interactions. With each conversation we have with the student’s family or other teachers where we are discussing and fine-tuning , we must consistently document these efforts so that we have evidence of the mountains of efforts you have made to meet our kids’ needs during this time.

Remember, everyone is figuring this out and there is no gold standard to compare yourself to, so take a deep breath and set incremental goals that allow you to baby step your way to meeting the needs of your kids. 

And don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some affirmation that you are on the right track!

Kaci Coats

FREE WEBINARS OFFERED THROUGH THE COLLABORATIVE

  • Instructional Approaches that Support Executive Functioning - building awareness of student needs and developing skills Wednesday, 4/8/2020 02:00-03:00 MDT An area of concern is helping students figure out how to organize their time and work.  In most traditional schools, this has always been done for students. Join Morgan Beidleman for an hour webinar focused on how to help students access, organize, and complete work in a virtual environment. We will also discuss ways to reinforce and engage students in alternative ways. Register Here
  • Parent Webinar Series: “Becoming a Home School” Parents are invited to join this webinar series to gather tips and tricks that will help them support their students during the current school closures.
    • Becoming a Home School: Creating a home environment conducive to your child’s learning, Wednesday 4/8/2020  5:30-6:00 PM MDT In this session, parents will be given strategies to help them set up a learning environment to meet their student's learning needs through altering the physical space, use of materials, and providing strategic support during academic activities. Register Here
    • Becoming a Home School: Systems & structures that support your child’s behavior at home, Monday 4/13/2020 5:30-6:00 PM MDT In this session, parents will be given strategies to help them set up systems and routines that will help them prevent and support behaviors they may encounter as students move to online schooling. Register Here
    • Becoming a Home School: Strategically connecting to support your child’s mental health, Wednesday 4/15/2020  5:30-6:00 PM MDT  In this session, parents will learn about the importance of monitoring their students' mental health during times of closure and will receive strategies to proactively create opportunities for connection to foster social and emotional well-being in their child. Register Here

SUPPORT & COLLABORATIVE PLANNING OPPORTUNITIES

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need a thought partner! We will also be hosting opportunities to receive support and to collaborate with other special educators and related service providers weekly. Please register for those today to save your place:

  • Special Education Teacher Support Group Weekly on Mondays 1:00-2:00 PM MDT Register Here
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Moderate to Severe Autism Disabilities Weekly on Tuesdays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT - Register Here
  • Newly Added Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Mental Health Providers Weekly on Tuesdays (starting 3/31) 2:00-3:00 PM MDT - Register Here
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Severe Behavioral & MH Needs Weekly on Wednesdays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT - Register Here
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Moderate to Severe Cognitive Disabilities Weekly on Thursdays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT - Register Here 
  • Newly Added Collaborative Planning for Online Related Services: Speech Providers Weekly on Thursdays 2:00-3:00 PM MDT - Register Here
  • Collaborative Planning for Online Services: Leading Schools Through COVID-19 Every other week on Mondays 3:30-4:30 PM MDT (Starts 4/6) - Register Here

ALSO SEE ALL LEAGUE RESOURCES

Links to Resources:

Links to Recent Webinars

Links to recent state guidance:

Links to recent national & federal guidance:

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