My Quarantine Teaching Experience

Remote learning causes concerns for students with disabilities. Because of COVID-19, I found myself using technology as I teach and learn. I used to take for granted toilet paper, paper towel, hand sanitizer, rubber/paper gloves, rubbing alcohol, bleach and masks because it was always there at my reach. Now I have found myself shopping for these things.
This pandemic has forced me and all teachers to make the shift to adopt technology. Across the U.S., schools and families face new challenges maintaining instruction for students with disabilities. Teachers are exploring new ways to deliver customized lessons from afar. While parents of all children have taken on schooling duties, those whose children have disabilities are adding therapy, hands-on lessons and behavioral management to the list.
As they adapt to shutdowns, some schools are turning to video conferencing to provide lessons and therapy sessions, while others are bringing small groups of students back for services or training parents to help. It is hard to replicate the general education curriculum in the home, so how am I going to replicate the special education program? However, I have to keep telling myself ‘there are lots of barriers, but I keep trying to find ways to work around them.’
During this time, my husband lost his godfather in Ecuador and two family members. He and the family were devastated. He couldn’t travel. There was not much closure. His godfather was married to his aunt. He also discovered that three of his family members here in New Jersey were tested positive for the coronavirus.
With being quarantine this and quarantine that, I had some time to think – like really think – I am not talking about sleeping in late, wearing PJs as my outfits while teaching online to my students, watching movies on Hulu or Netflix, spring cleaning or gaining weight. I am talking about really thinking about my job, my family, my friends, my bucket list.
As this crossed my mind I began to learn how to cook. I was a fair cook. My husband is the cook of the house. I had to learn to find different ways to make different dishes for myself, husband and our son. I had to learn because my husband visits his father every day and cooks for him and for his brother. I had to learn to how to teach myself how to cook. And hubby had to teach his father and brother how to cook – just in case things would get worst and he can no longer leave the house… they know how make themselves dishes.
As I was teaching myself how to prepare and make new dishes and listening to music, I continued to think about ways on how to reach my kids – distance learning. It was new to me as well. I would hear the frustration in the parent’s voices and the students’ fears.
I continue to learn how to encounter differences among the circumstances while teaching students remotely. Some are well equipped tech-wise, with a good computer and fast, reliable internet access. Others do all of their coursework in a computer; while some don’t have internet at home. Based on my experience, distant learning requires high-level executive-function skills that some students may not possess. I am quite sure if my students may be able to manage their time well, motivate themselves, direct and regulate their own learning, and seek appropriate help when needed.
With the advice from my twin sister, who is also a special needs teacher, and from my coworkers, I was able to find ways to be present for my students. I had to learn quickly how to create active learning experiences as a result at home remote instruction and find ways to teach them. Every week, I learn to share and receive resources, visuals, media, interactive tools ideas and learning activities. I learned to reorganize the furniture in my living room. This is a time for creativity and new ways to access student voice and allow them to show their thinking in ways that they-and I-never could have imagined.
The silver lining is we can make this a great experience. Let’s get to work.
Mily lives in New Jersey with her husband, Harry, and her son, Omar.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is also not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.