As hard as it is learning from home for students, it can be even more difficult for students with disabilities.
Children with special needs are faced with a different set of learning challenges because of COVID-19. That’s why special education teachers are doing their best to ensure their students don’t fall behind.
We spoke with two local special education teachers to see how different the challenges they’re facing.
Ashley Brown who is a Special Education Teacher at Mandan Middle School says, “School is a structured safe place for them and when they don’t have that– that’s hard.”
Brown is not just taking care of her baby boy but she also teaches nine of her students with special needs–which requires a different kind of attention.
“We have a really close bond. I work with a lot of kids that have emotional disorders…” Brown says, “so lots of high anxiety, some behavioral issues, and lots of autism so — it can be tricky for them to not have that connection time.”
Liberty Elementary’s Special Education Teacher JenaLee Narum would agree. She says it has been weird for her students to see her over the computer instead of in person. Both teachers have had to make some adjustments.
JenaLee Narum says “Doing online stuff might not be the right fit for them. So we actually send in books to them and they get a little bit more hands on material.”
Brown says, “I do like a whole group conference where all the kids can come together once a week and then we talk with parents lots too — so there are lots of different ways to get those times in but it’s obviously not like it is in the classroom.”
It’s still a work in progress, but both teachers say the most important thing they can do for thier students is to just let them know they are there for them.
“I think what it really is …” Narum says, “is working with your families and communicating with your families because that’s where I’ve learned the most.”
“We don’t start teaching special ed or start teaching anyway just to do it. So if you just keep putting your heart into it then it will make it work,” says brown.
Both of the teachers say they miss their students a lot and they appreciate positive support from parents and other teachers.
They say the hardest part is not having that in-person interaction– which is vital for students with special needs.