Three Causes Why Being a Particular Training Trainer Is Even More durable In the course of the Pandemic
While the pandemic made it difficult for teachers everywhere to do their jobs, special education teachers in particular suffered from a lack of training, support and collaboration with their general education counterparts.
This is the result of a new study by the Center for Reinventing Public Education. This spring and summer, researchers surveyed more than 60 special education leaders and teachers, school principals and general education teachers at 15 schools across the country to ask them about their experiences with special education during the pandemic. Most special education teachers didn’t have their own classrooms but instead offered special classes to students in general education classrooms, according to Lane McKittrick, a research analyst for CRPE.
Earlier this year, in a separate study, CRPE found that the pandemic had disproportionately affected students with disabilities and districts are struggling to meet the needs of students with complex learning disabilities who need more support. Prolonged school closings kept students away from physical or cognitive therapy and hands-on classes, while online learning platforms proved inadequate to ensure accessibility for students with a range of disabilities. As a result, students with disabilities faced greater learning losses and reported higher absenteeism, the study found.
Schools with mostly colored students and schools with high poverty rates reported that the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on services for students with disabilities, according to a nationwide representative survey of 1,500 teachers conducted by RAND Corporation last October. Almost 2 in 5 teachers said their schools offered alternative classes for students with disabilities during the pandemic, but this was less common in mostly non-white schools and schools with high poverty.
“For me as a parent with special education, I know that special education sometimes feels like an afterthought, and as a researcher it feels that way too,” McKittrick said. “Last year a lot of children stayed behind because we just couldn’t serve them.”
Here are some of the difficulties that special education teachers in particular have faced over the past 18 months.
1. Special education teachers did not work with general education teachers
Collaboration between general and special needs teachers was challenging before the pandemic. This collaboration would have helped teachers gain vital information about the students and strategies on how to best meet their needs during the pandemic when students in special education were struggling.
More than 45 percent of high school teachers and between 30 and 35 percent of middle and elementary school teachers stated that they had never participated in lesson planning.
This could be because only about a third of general education teachers said they feel primarily responsible for meeting the needs of their special needs students, although these students are typically taught with peers who are not receiving services.
Even before the pandemic, one in five teachers felt “very well prepared” to teach students with mild to moderate learning disabilities, according to a May 2019 survey of 1,350 teachers by the National Center for Learning Disabilities and Understood.org.
“Only one or two schools have given us a signal that they think the collaboration is really going well,” said McKittrick. “The rest of the schools were still struggling to find time for all of this, given all the different priorities that were going on.”
2. The responsibility for communication with the parents lay primarily with the special educators
While schools were closed or in hybrid mode over the past year, communicating with students’ parents about individual education plans was vital so that parents could track their children’s academic progress. But while students typically spend most of their day with general education teachers, special education teachers feel primarily responsible for communicating with families on a regular basis, the study found.
About 60 percent of high school and middle school special education teachers and 40 percent of elementary school teachers said they kept in touch primarily with their families.
According to the CRPE study, teachers feel more supported and their students have a more inclusive and productive experience when general and special needs teachers “share responsibility for educating students with disabilities – planning classes, remodeling, and housing together, and together communicate with families ”. Learning environments. “
3. Districts often did not consider students with disabilities in reopening plans
In a separate study, CRPE found that 12 percent of school reopening plans it surveyed did not mention students with disabilities at all. Even the plans mentioning them did not include any reopening plans specifically for these students. And while 52 percent of plans included face-to-face learning for students with disabilities, only 33 percent included interventions or increased support for students with disabilities to address pandemic “learning loss”, according to the report.
Faced with this lack of guidance, teachers tried to adapt their teaching approach to meet the diverse educational needs of students with a variety of disabilities. But often, with minimal or no guidance, they had to find an approach on their own, let alone a shared understanding of the best ways to help special education students make up for lost time.
Special education needs to be a priority this school year
According to the CRPE study, prior to the pandemic, the cooperation of general and special education teachers as well as the training of special educators were not in the foreground. Although some districts have introduced co-teaching in the past decade – in which a general education teacher and special needs teacher sit in the same classroom – many districts have still not encouraged collaboration on lesson plans.
However, to recover from the academic and social losses faced by students with disabilities over the past year and a half, schools need to change the way they approach special education.
In its study, CRPE suggested, among other things, that administrators encourage general and special education teachers to share responsibility for students with disabilities by explaining how shared responsibility for lesson planning, teaching, family communication and support for students outside of the school Classroom looks like.
School principals should also help educators meet these new standards by devoting dedicated time to collaborate and train general educators about the needs of special needs students and how to meet them, the CRPE study suggested.
For targeted training and support in this area, federal funds should be made available that can be used for further vocational training.
“It would be really harmful to the students and our families just to go back to the way things were,” said McKittrick. “People just didn’t have enough time last year to think differently about special needs education. I just hope this is a catalyst for change and not just a return to the status quo. “