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HOW TO DO REMOTE TEACHING WITH SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS

 

Teaching Remotely?  Sure, I can do this…

Then as it came near… I started to panic.  It’s not as easy as it sounds…remote teaching.  And it comes with a whole new set of stressors.  But special educators are some of the most resourceful people I know!  

We WILL figure this out!

Before You Start

If you haven't started remote teaching yet {or even if you have}, my top recommendation for preparing yourself is to practice some self-care.

Why?

Because like our students, we need to practice a new skill so that it is more easily accessed during times of stress….because there will be stress, there will be mistakes, and at times, it will be messy.

Beating yourself up about it, wont help.

If self-care is not something you are particularly good at doing…here are some ideas.

 

Things you can do for yourself:

  • Make a list of self affirmations that are meaningful to you and have them handy.  Practice saying them.
  • Put a meaningful quote or two in an area where you can easily see it.
  • Schedule in some exercise, nature walks, etc.
  • Buy yourself some flowers or anything pretty that you can look at.
  • Walk away. When feelings of stress start to overwhelm you, walk away and come back to it later.
  • Make a nice dinner.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Call a friend.

You get the idea.  Just do something every day that makes you feel good.  Taking care of yourself will help you to be better able to take care of others.

 

Getting Started

This is new to me too!  But I firmly believe that the best thing we can do for ourselves and our students is to start slow and easy.  This is new and stressful for all of us.  I believe that we will be much more successful, in the long run, if we take a few steps back.

“Slow And Steady Wins The Race”  -Robert Lyod

Just like starting out a new school year, we are starting new, in many ways.  Our students will need to learn new routines and schedules. They will need to learn new behaviors and new language. 

They need us to go over these new things step-by-step, slowly…and then do it again.

Many of us are using ZOOM as a new way of teaching.  It’s a great platform and I am getting more comfortable with it as each day goes on.  The kids seem to be enjoying connecting through ZOOM. (I am not an affiliate of ZOOM).

To help your students understand how to behave on while using ZOOM, try this fun animated PowerPoint called  'ZOOM Rules and Manners'  available in my shop Here.

If you are doing on-line live teaching, here are some recommendations specifically related to teaching through a platform like ZOOM or Goggle Hangouts.

1.  Do Some Practice Runs:  Whether it is with your friends, family or coworkers, do a few test runs before meeting on-line with your students.  There’s just no substitute for practice.  Like our students, practicing in less stressful conditions is very beneficial.

2.  Be VERY Prepared:  Have everything you think you might need within arms reach.  You don’t want to be getting up and walking away from your computer screen.  Even for a second.  You will likely loose one or two, if not all of your kiddos who will be making silly faces into the computer when you get back.

3.  Mind Your Settings: It’s best to be extra cautious in the beginning.  Go through your platform’s settings and make it so that you have as much control as possible.  You may be able to loosen it up down the road, but in the beginning, you want to keep your students from playing around too much.  Introducing cool features one at a time, can be a great lesson in-and-of itself. 

4. Use Exaggeration:  On-line, you will need to have more animation than you do in person.  You may need to speak louder, especially if you do not have a microphone other than the one built into the computer. You may need to use more expression in your tone and in your facial expressions and body language. 

5. Arrange Your Space:  Before going live with your students, be sure your environment is appropriate.  Look in the background of your computer screen as you do a practice run and see what it is your students will see.  Make any adjustments necessary.

6. Technical Equipment:  Some of the suggested equipment for doing live presentations are; laptop with webcam, headphones, external microphone, and a green screen. Obviously you have to have some sort of electronic device to run your session, whether it is a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone, but beyond that, the other items on this list can make your experience much better.  Don’t have these things?  Not to worry.  Just do your best with what you’ve got.

7. Environmental Factors:  Try to find a place where you will be comfortable presenting, both physically and mentally.  A quiet spot where you wont be interrupted or heard by family members…that was top on my list!  A comfortable chair, materials in reach, a glass of water, natural light.  These little details can make a huge difference.

 

Important Considerations

Whether you are using an on-line platform or not, there are still so many things to consider when remote teaching.  Here is a list of important considerations that I have come up with… so far.

 

1.  Have A Plan {and a back up plan} 

This sounds obvious, I know.  But it’s a big one.

If you are using ZOOM, or something like it; have a plan for what you want to present, but also think through what you might do if you run into any issues. Personally, I always keep a good book handy, in case my lesson goes south and I need something else to do.

2.  Stick To A Schedule

Just like teaching in the classroom, a schedule will provide your students with a sense of comfort.  It will also likely help you to feel more comfortable as you learn new skills.

3.  Go Slow

Many of us are worried about the time lost and the potential for lost skills.  I think it’s important to try to let that go and accept what we can’t change.  We will be more productive and successful if we take it slow and build on success.

4. Keep It Short

In the beginning, keep lessons short and simplistic.  Again, we will build on success.  Start slow, gain student confidence, get buy in, and slooooowly raise the bar.

5.  Be Flexible

This is so important with our kiddos.  As we well know, our kiddos are all unique and what works for some doesn’t work for others.  Offer a variety of ways to learn.  Some options are; live sessions, recorded sessions, PowerPoint presentations, videos, book discussions, PDF’s and other documents that can be printed.  Activities can range from those done on-line to activities done around the house such as; scavenger hunts, cooking, organizing toys or stuffed animals into categories, interviewing family members, etc. 

6.  Give Choices

Similar to #5, offer choices to your students so that they feel as comfortable as possible demonstrating their knowledge and eventually stretching and growing. 

7.  Share And Collaborate

Be sure to talk to your collegues and share ideas.  We all have different ideas and experiences.  Even though we are not physically together, it’s important that we work together and help each other, now more than ever.

 

Here are some great quotes to sum things up…

  • “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  – Hellen Keller
  • “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”  – Napoleon Hill
  • “None of us is as smart as all of us”  – Ken Blanchard

 

I hope you find this information helpful and useful!  

 

Thanks So Much and Happy Remote Teaching!

Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids

 

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