Special needs staff embracing return from COVID

Even under “normal conditions,” teaching a classroom filled with 25 kids with learning disabilities is a challenge. Those with unique challenges such as down syndrome or autism can have a hard time learning at the same pace as other kids, but when COVID-19 struck, the challenges to learning rose even higher. 

Peet paraeducator Jamie Meyer works with children that suffer from autism and other behavior disorders every day. “When I was in school, we didn’t have paraeducators to help children who struggle in class, and I think it’s really cool that we have that here at school,” Meyer said. 

Meyer said each interaction with different disabilities requires much patience and determination. She said a really important thing with helping disabled students is having a connection, and being present around them in order to really help them focus in class. Checking in and making sure they’re doing the work, or helping them stay calm and collected if they get stressed are essential. 

During COVID, this really became a challenge. “I didn’t get to work with the students or see them,” Meyer said. “The kids just didn’t have that interaction with us teachers, and it was hard to get back into the routine when we came back to school.” 

When schools went online, it made it easier for students to not participate in their classwork. “My students could just turn off the computer whenever they wanted, and that made it a lot harder to give them the help they really needed,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the connection teachers make with students is a necessity for learning, and with COVID shutting the schools down, it was near impossible to really give the special ed students the help they needed to succeed in their schoolwork.

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