Obstacles To Particular Training Studying In A Pandemic
“She is an extremely bright child who only needed specific instructions to read. And she got that nowhere, “said Amy Traynor.
She is the mother of two high school students with special educational needs, and distance learning in 2020 presented her dyslexic daughter with unique challenges.
“There was no new knowledge,” said Traynor. “Your dyslexia intervention was a zoom chat. A couple of times.”
She changed schools and says the difference was day and night.
“We changed schools and even in a pandemic they closed their three-year reading deficit in the first ten weeks of school.”
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Pandemic learning during the 2020 school year varied drastically for some special needs students based on the school they attended, socio-economic factors, access to technology, and even their specific learning disability.
For example, some students with certain physical disabilities were able to study from the comfort of their homes, while others with sensory impairments had difficulty.
Lindsay Jones, President and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, agreed that the pandemic has created new obstacles for many students.
“They really had problems with distance learning, with the lack of face-to-face learning,” said Jones. “They also struggled in many cases with the idea that masks cover faces and we don’t have the same clues that we can pick up.”
The pandemic also forced teachers to coach adults and guide parents through home-based learning.
“They’re not just trying to provide classroom support,” said LaShorage Shaffer. “Many parents needed emotional support to figure out how to support their child’s development and learning at home.”
Shaffer, a professor at the University of Michigan who trains the next generation of special education teachers, says the 2020 school year made many quit the profession.
A recent survey of 2,300 teachers commissioned by the National Center for Learning Disabilities found that around 58% of respondents say they are “burned out”. However, 87% say they still enjoy teaching despite pandemics.
Proponents say now is the time to investigate what went right and wrong, and how to fix longstanding problems.
US $ 3 billion from the American Rescue Plan has been allocated specifically to support students with disabilities. Experts say the next challenge is to put that money into methods that work.
The Center for Learning Disabilities has put together a list that will work based on research and teacher input, including things like evidence-based tutoring and more study time.
“Our school needs to figure out how we can provide services at the end of the day,” said Jones. “Perhaps in the cases that have not yet started, in the summer and during the breaks.”
The teachers also liked the smaller classrooms due to the pandemic and the ability to virtually teach and give classes if needed.
“These are just additional ways to help children learn,” Jones continued. “Whether it is about turning on subtitles when zooming in or whether it is about having things read out to you by your computer.”
Shaffer says now is also a good time to be honest about the social, economic, and technological divisions.
“[It’s about] Realize wow this is a loophole and what are we going to do to make sure we are prepared if this happens again. “
Traynor, a proponent of special needs students, says some of the problems started long before the pandemic, and now is the time to make changes.
“Maybe we can make a transition in the way we actually teach,” she said. “So that these practices are more effective than efficient from the start, whether pandemic or not.”