Let’s take a collective breath in – hold, one, two, three, and release.
Ok, now let’s talk about the situation we are finding ourselves in.
In December, I transitioned from the classroom to the central office. I now supervise non-public special education day schools for a large district. As a central office administrator, I have learned a lot through this crisis. One of the most important things I want teachers and other practitioners to know is that you are not alone. We are working day in and day out to figure this out. We are in this together and we will get through this together.
As you try to implement the IEP, remember that there is inherent flexibility within the document.
Don’t be afraid to be creative when giving assignments and providing accommodations and services.
For example, encourage your students to try flex seating in the house. Maybe they like reading upside down on the couch and doing math laying on the kitchen floor while meals are prepared. Instead of writing a book report, they could create a collage and write a paragraph caption about what it means to them and how it relates to the book.
Don’t let this crisis paralyze you or stifle your amazing creativity. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your supports, your building and district administrators, and other resources. Use the CECommunity All-Member Forum to engage with your peers or pose a nonidentifiable question on social media for ideas or advice. For me, I don’t expect my students to receive exactly 26.5 hours (or whatever the IEP states) of specialized instruction while at home; but, what I do expect is engaging, fun, and meaningful instruction. That is where learning takes place – not in 26.5 hours – but it could be 12 hours of amazingly enriching activities to get the job done.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Get out for a walk around the community, take a long shower or hot bath, maybe have breakfast for dinner one night in your PJs.
There is a lot of pressure for us to be super productive; don’t buy into that. Take care of you, your family, and your students.
You don’t have to save the world today or tomorrow, but you do have to save yourself. Without you, our students suffer; so please, engage in self-care. For me, self-care is learning, so I am exploring old editions of CEC journals, participating in webinars, and doing my beloved Ph.D. homework.
I hope you, your family, and students are safe and well. May you find strength and comfort in your CEC community and the fact that together, we’re not alone!
Richard Williams is a special education teacher for students with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). Williams has worked in general education schools in self-contained EBD classrooms and two special education centers for students with severe EBD. He has a master’s in special education from Clark Atlanta University and is currently working towards a doctorate in special education from Cappella University with a focus on students with EBD, transition plans, and preparations for post-secondary life. An active CEC member, Williams has been a Reality 101 blogger as well as a member of the Yes I Can and Diversity Committees. Outside of the classroom, he is a plant-based lifestyle and animal rights advocate who runs a blog of book reviews and current events. In his spare time, he loves to read and go on hikes with his dog.