1.1. Special Education and Distance Learning
1.2. Students with Disabilities and the Current Crisis
Staying at home, and in most cases not attending school, creates a uniquely stressful situation for children with [disabilities] and their families. Carefully developed routines have been disrupted; support networks have disintegrated; and parents have been asked to do a job that trained teachers find challenging, without any training.(para. 4 )
1.3. Current Study
- How did Emergency Remote Teaching evolve over the course of the spring 2020 semester?
- What problems emerged for teachers of young students with disabilities?
- How, and to what extent, were those problems handled?
2.2. Interview Procedure & Analysis
3.1. Stages of Emergency Remote Teaching during Spring 2020
3.1.1. Stage One: Making Contact
It was more trying to meet with them or talk to them, to how can I come and support you? What is going on? So it was a check in all last week. This week, it was again now doing even manual phone calls to every family to get this same kind of idea of where they’re at.
3.1.2. Stage Two: Establishing Routines
Today was the first time I kind of attempted to create a routine through this format and do part of my Morning Meeting, which is just, today, all I did was take attendance and choose the greeter of the day. So, from the four kids that were there, I asked one to say good morning to all of them. So that was the greeter. And they had to wait for the other person to respond and say, ‘Good morning.’ When I took attendance, I did like I do in class, and the expectation is they have to raise their hand and say, ‘I’m here.’
3.1.3. Stage Three: Transitioning to Academics
Let me start doing what we do in class, right? Let’s get them involved in, let’s do the counting collections. Let’s do routines in this [digital] platform, but then my crude reality, and that was a shocker for me, [is] trying to do the 15 min with the students and the behaviors, running around, jumping up and down or having a lot of stim behaviors and just getting them to focus or to sit… Okay, I might be asking too much for my kiddos right now. This is not their new norm. And here I am, like here, I’m ready to teach, guys. And they’re like, no, you’re, you can’t come into my house and have me work now. …So that’s my, that was my reality. So it’s, like, okay, I need to tone it down.
What can I do so that I can provide something to those students that’s, like... they don’t need to, like, create a response? They don’t need to really do anything, but just be there. Like, just being there is enough or just watching it is enough.
3.2. Major Challenges with Emergency Remote Teaching
3.2.1. Inequity of Support and Resources at Home
And not to be, like, not to penalize anyone, because, like I said, it’s not equitable. And I have students at home that, their parents aren’t home, like, they’re essential workers, grandmas, they’re watching four little kids, one with, you know, severe autism and, like,... how can I expect her to be the teacher, right?
And also, like, I’m always thinking about equity, right, like right now it’s so glaring the kids that have the resources and have parents who can spend time with them to learn at home, and the kids that don’t have that…the justice angle of this, like, we all need to keep in the back of our heads, like, and kind of the, I guess, the attitude right now is, like, yeah, we get that it’s not, it’s not equitable. It’s not going to be equitable. But we, just, we’re going to teach the kids that are showing up.
[She said] ‘Oh, that is a very nice thing you guys are doing, but right now’ she says, ‘We both got laid off,’ like, her husband and her, ‘from this coronavirus, so’ and she says they owe money to Comcast, so they can’t even jump into the free WiFi because she feels like they already have a tab with them. So they couldn’t get the free, the free internet during this time. And she doesn’t have a device either. And on their phone, I believe they don’t have data either. So it’s not, like, I can join her on Zooms through her phone. They only have call. And that’s, yeah. There’s a lot of challenges just to, to get everybody on the same page.
3.2.2. Reliance on At-Home Support
I think just generally, at home, the expectation is different for a lot of my students. Not all but many. Like, I just sent home worksheets. And [a parent said], ‘I didn’t think he could do it, I wasn’t gonna give it to him, but he knows exactly what to do.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, like, he understands that skill.’
So I told one dad, even if we were to have one-on-one Zoom meetings, where I can sit with both of you and your wife, and whatever things that are happening at home, that you’re struggling to figure out how to manage; we can troubleshoot.
This is, like, the time for me and the parents to really be on the same page and teach them. When we’re in the classroom, I never really get those opportunities for them to come; let’s practice this, let’s do it together.
3.2.3. Changes in the Teaching Experience
But that’s what I am kind of nervous about, even in a small group with one other kid, like, ‘Oh, hey, buddy, it looks like you didn’t do any work this week.’ Like, like, how do I navigate that? Like, how do I offer feedback and, you know, revisit work that they’ve done, but also not make anyone feel bad for not doing the work because that’s not where I want to go either.
It almost feels like it’s almost a panic mode for us as well, almost like when you go and overstock and start buying everything, that’s how it feels with this. It’s like, I need to go to everything and get all the info.
And it’s been really tough for me. It’s like all the favorite parts of my job, I don’t really get to do anymore. Like being with the kids and, like, I don’t know, just being in my classroom and, like, being around that energy has just been, like, stripped away. And I feel like I’m left with a lot of the parts I don’t love, like, all the meetings and all, like, the long term planning and just, like, the little tediousness of making stuff for them to do is what I feel like I’m doing right now. So it’s, it’s been an adjustment for me, personally.
4.1. Implications for Stakeholders
4.2. Limitations and Future Research
Conflicts of Interest
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