“For too long, we have let assessment take precedence over access to quality education. We should focus more on involving students in learning and tracking performance over time, ”Noguera said in an email.
It is clear that the pandemic has brought the issue of the digital divide to the fore. Even a year after the start of the pandemic, there are still countless stories of low-income kids and children of color not showing up regularly for their Google Classroom or Zoom calls. Again, technological fairness is a factor, but there is also a world of other socio-economic challenges that prevent students from attending their virtual classes.
Children in special education need personalized attention
Nicole Schlechter, an Illinois-based mother of four and special education advocate, says that when schools first closed in the spring of 2020, many special education students did not have access to special education services. special education for months. “It usually takes twice as long for a struggling student to catch up.” Today, most school districts have started offering speech therapy, occupational therapy, counseling and other services online. Distance learning may not work for some special education students. For example, physical therapy is simply not transferable to distance learning. There are fears that other distance special education therapies may be less effective, Schlecter says.
“We’re seeing a huge increase in behavior problems, ADHD prescriptions and other concerns,” Schlechter says.
It is important that a child with a special education is not rushed into an IEP that does not also work for the child’s family. For example, if the parent of an elementary school student in special education has to work and the school is only far away, the parent should ask if the school district can do something to meet the scheduling needs of the child. this family. Flexibility is the key. In my particular situation, I frequently communicate with my sons’ speech language pathologists, especially if I have to cancel due to scheduling conflicts. My two sons don’t enjoy live video calls, but Zoom or Google sessions enabled by audio and chat may be an option during speech or remote occupational therapy.
As school districts determine the number of asynchronous and synchronous instructional hours that are effective for different student populations, Zoom fatigue is a real challenge. Obviously, few people expect children to enjoy passive sitting through lectures or online assessments six hours a day each day, with a few more for homework.
“Sitting for long periods of time is not good for children. Developmentally, children must be in the company of their peers and they must have the experience of learning by doing and learning by play, ”explains Noguera.
Social and emotional learning is essential
When it comes to social and emotional learning for educators, parents and children, Dr. Marc Brackett, Founder and Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor at Yale University’s Child Study Center, says it’s not about whether or not to include social and emotional learning in classroom learning – it’s an imperative.
“A stressed teacher is a stressed classroom,” Brackett says. Additionally, Brackett notes, even during non-pandemic times, educators may not intuitively know how to connect with children on an emotional level or be aware of implicit biases, especially if it is a white educator. teaching a colored student.
To help educators get the tools they need, Brackett and his team have developed a program designed to fill this gap. “Manage emotions in times of uncertainty and stress»Is a free 10 hour self-paced program for educators. Another resource from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence is the Mood meter for adults, adolescents and college students.