Special education teachers adjusting to new school year

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 10:28 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 14, 2020 at 4:11 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Every student and faculty member is having to adjust to the new school year, and the special education department is no exception to that.

Amy Johnson, a Special Education instructor at Pineville High School, said, “We are working to make them as independent as possible. But yet providing adequate and more than adequate support for them to feel supported and successful in the classroom.”

At Pineville High School, approximately 135 students are in special education courses and 45 of them chose the virtual option.

Jessica Lowe, a special education instructor from Paradise Elementary, has faced this obstacle as well. Five out of her 18 students are learning from home, and she’s trying to keep close connections with each of her kids even if they aren’t in the classroom.

“We’re trying to make it interactive as much as possible because that’s so important. We have to make sure we’re having that social aspect because kids need these days,” said Lowe.

Lowe added that she’s being honest with her students about why there have been added safety precautions in school. She is using the masks, shields, and dividers to inspire the kids to stay safe and not scare them.

“These are our tools. We’re like in an army fighting a battle. These are just the tools we need to win. That’s how I’m trying to make it a positive. We’re going to win,” said Lowe.

A teacher’s relationship with their students can be a strong bond, and the connections special education teachers have with their students are even more important, not just for them but for the parents as well.

Parents want to ensure the best safety and learning environment for their kids and each special education instructor is working hard to ensure that.

Johnson said, “Our learning management programs allow us to really individualize our instructions, so if we want to give an assignment to just one student and not the whole class, we can easily do that with the click of a button. We can really individualize virtually what they need to do.”

In Livingston Parish, an entire special education class including six students, one teacher, and three para-professionals had to be quarantined after one positive test was recorded in the group.

Lowe said, “Special education children are already vulnerable, and when you take their routines away from them, you take their school away from them. It can be devastating.”

Both teachers said each day they are finding more ways to connect with their students on a personal level.

Copyright 2020 KALB. All rights reserved.

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