VOICES FROM THE FIELD

Explore practical examples from the field of how educators are adapting to serve all students in the era of remote learning. Educators share technical descriptions of how they are working to move from face-to-face to at-a-distance learning with reflections and lessons learned about their experiences. These cases are for the field and we will continue to add more - use the forum to tell us what kinds of practical examples you need!

Please note: We have gathered stories and examples from schools and educators working hard to continue educating students with disabilities in the rapidly evolving situation around COVID-19. Our aim is to share information and inspire potential ways educators may incorporate these approaches in their individual school settings. While we know everyone is working hard and doing their best, we also have to recognize that, in the interest of getting information out to the field as expeditiously as possible, these approaches are too early to demonstrate outcomes and/or an evidence base prior to sharing. We are learning together.

Leading by example.

Facilitating Community Supports for Students with Significant Disabilities

The shift to virtual learning has proved to be a challenge for families who rely on services for their child both in school and outside of school. This case study describes a system created by an educator in partnership with a grassroots community organization to help families who have lost services or who need additional support. The system provides need-based matching of families and educators across the United States.

Supporting Students with Significant Needs in Distance Learning

A school leader at a full-time special education day school discusses critical strategies for distance learning with students who have significant needs. Transitioning technology, communicating with parents, establishing routines, prioritizing engagement, and implementing many ways for students to show what they know as learning demands are increased are addressed with illustrative examples.

Providing Services to Students who are Deafblind: Coming together as a field

In this case study, an expert in special education and mother of a child who is deafblind describes replicable strategies that can be leveraged with deafblind students in distance learning. The author uses her family's experience to discuss the struggles deafblind students face moving to the virtual learning world, as well as the potential of the distance learning experience for students who are deafblind.

Social Emotional Growth through Academic Content for All Students

This case study describes the experiences of a fifth-grade special education teacher in New York City as she works to support her students’ basic and social-emotional needs—as well as their need for academic process during distance learning. She reflects on her experience and specific strategies, and she describes her classroom’s transformative experience during a unit on poetry.

Leveraging Relationships in a Time of Pandemic

Relationships prove to be a school’s greatest asset during the COVID-19 crisis. This case study describes practical strategies one school employed to support students who learn and think differently, leveraging existing and newly formed relationships across the school community.

The Opportunity for Stronger Connection to Your School Community

A high school special education teacher who teaches in a self-contained classroom discusses positive changes to his practice and classroom community during distance learning. He describes practical tips for strengthening communication in classrooms where the first language of many parents is not English, while also improving overall relationships with your classroom community.

Prioritizing Maslow to Get to Bloom

In this reflection Shannon Hodge, Co-Founder & Executive Director for the Kingsman Academy Public Charter School, discusses the importance of addressing the wellness and basic needs of her students and families while transitioning to a virtual school model. Practical strategies like a single point of contact for each student, Universal Design for Learning, and training staff to understand Maslow's hierarchy of needs are discussed.

Strengthening Connectivities From a Distance

In this reflection Tommy Reddicks, Chief Executive Officer for the Paramount Schools of Excellence, discusses the decision to move to eLearning and immediate actions taken to provide support for all students in the transition. Practical strategies like day one check-ins with families, consideration of support services and ensuring implementation fidelity to this new style of learning are discussed.

Brooklyn School Shares a COVID-19 Grief and Loss Resource Kit

The Brooklyn LAB school community has been hit hard by this pandemic, and we are doing our best to face this challenge together. The Brooklyn LAB leadership team, with input from community members and resources from colleagues from around the country, has compiled a COVID-19 Grief and Loss Resource Kit, in the hope that it helps you support your communities through COVID-related grief and loss. No one knows your corner of the world better than you do, but we hope this Resource Kit can make the process easier.

Meeting Students Where They Are: Strategies for Adapting Services for Students with Disabilities

A paraprofessional at a rural high school discusses how she has adapted her services to a virtual learning environment. She shares specific strategies she has used with her three students, who have social and emotional disorders, significant physical disabilities and dyslexia, respectively. She discusses how she has tailored her services not only to accommodate her students’ disabilities, but to their individual levels of motivation and interest as well.

Flexible Mindsets to Change: Navigating the Challenges of Shifting Contexts for Learning

Three staff members of a charter management organization discuss how they implemented and continue to update a plan to provide a comprehensive learning environment for all students. They discuss the importance of a flexible mindset, their efforts to create a sense of culture for students and staff, and how they approach challenges with translating special education services to a virtual environment.

Practice based models.

Uplifting Student Voices: Using Accessible Templates and Tools for Virtual Presentations

This case study describes a middle school special education teacher’s creative solutions for pushing students to create and virtually present using Google Slides in a self-contained classroom. Students present projects they develop and are proud of during the time of distance learning. The use of paced Google Slides templates, word banks, sentence starters, select-to-speak tools, and videoconferencing replicate the types of accommodations and supports students would (and need to) have in the classroom.

A Study in Augmentative Communication in Distance Learning

This case study describes a speech and language pathologist’s experience supporting a middle school student with complex communication needs and behavioral challenges. Strategies for mapping student needs to clinician strategies are discussed, with an emphasis on how to leverage student agency in the teletherapy process. The use of augmentative communication in distance learning is explored.

Virtual Writing Lesson for an Inclusive Classroom

This case study describes an example of writing instruction delivered virtually in an inclusive classroom. The practitioner describes her strategies and approach to explicitly build her student’s knowledge, skills and engagement in navigating the new virtual classroom. The use of Book Creator, asynchronous explicit technical support, and google forms for peer-feedback are described.

Growth Mindset and Mindfulness at a Distance

This inclusive class is designed to help students manage the emotions of daily life and school. During distance learning, we can help our students find helpful strategies to center themselves when they’re feeling big emotions. We can also use this time to continue to build community and relationships so that students feel it’s safe to come to us when they need their teacher’s support.

Remote Parent Coaching

This case study describes a virtual Speech and Language Pathology session focused on language and social pragmatics. Clinicians describe working with a kindergarten student with autism and challenges with language. The use of Zoom, online animated story books, and digital manipulatives are described.

Multisensory Reading Instruction

This case study describes an example of multisensory reading instruction implemented through a distance learning approach. The practitioner describes working with a first grade student with a diagnosis of dyslexia and significant reading difficulty. The use of video conferencing to support strategies like modeling, family coaching/support and game-based learning are described.

A Virtual Session: Language & Social Pragmatics

This case study describes a virtual Speech and Language Pathology session focused on language and social pragmatics. Clinicians describe working with a kindergarten student with autism and challenges with language. The use of Zoom, online animated story books, and digital manipulatives are described.

Middle School Math: Graphing Virtually

This case study describes a virtual math support session focused on learning to graph from an equation in slope-intercept form and anxiety mitigation. The practitioner describes working with a seventh grade student with a diagnosis of dyscalculia. The use of Zoom, a magnetic whiteboard in lieu of a life-sized coordinate plane, google docs as a shared virtual notebook, and video tutorials to support learning and teaching are described.

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