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Supporting Students With Special Needs During Distance Learning

A kid watching their classes online

COVID-19 has forced many schools to shift from in-person classes to remote learning. This transition creates more challenges for some students and subjects than others. It can also make it difficult for schools to provide individualized education programs (IEPs) to students with exceptionalities. If you're a teacher or paraeducator who's looking for support, here are some helpful tips and resources.

Look for Apps That Add Value

There are a variety of free programs that you can use to support the goals of students with special needs. Along with the resources your school already provides, you can also try out some of these platforms:

  • Word prediction tools and speech-to-text apps can help students who have trouble with spelling or writing out words
  • Flipgrid is a free platform that promotes social learning through video
  • ClassDojo is an app that allows teachers and parents to engage with students through photos and video clips
  • Padlet is an online bulletin board for sharing announcements or hosting group discussions with your class

Get Creative to Connect With Your Students

Getting students with disabilities to open up through group exercises and icebreakers can be more difficult during remote lessons. However, you can use personalized questionnaires to learn more about your students. Asking them about their hobbies and interests while in a breakout room can also help your students feel more comfortable around you.

Incorporate Videos

Most students with learning exceptionalities already have IEPs that outline their special accommodations and service minutes. Along with using breakout rooms to give them personalized instruction, you can create videos to guide students with special needs through assignments that they'll be working on outside of class. Also, elementary students will probably need assistance from their parents to log on to Zoom and other digital tools, so you can record short videos to walk parents and guardians through the different platforms you'll be using.

Adjusting to teaching dozens of students on Zoom can be challenging, but thinking creatively and making the most of online resources will help make this transition a bit smoother. At the Tulane School of Professional Advancement, we know you're committed to the success of each of your students with learning disabilities. That's why we offer a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Mild-to-Moderate K-12 Special Education to help teachers and paraeducators meet the needs of diverse learners. To learn more about our Special Education Pathway, please contact Richard Mihans, the director of our program.

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