Teaching Special Education has been a hands-on experience for me. I point out what line we are currently reading in a book. I show a student where the markers, pencils, papers, and glue are. I make the process simpler so that we can get to the lesson plan. Now the lesson focus is first about following the directions.
My verbal instructions have improved dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. I have learned how to give instructions clearly and allow my student to gain greater independence since I cannot physically help him.
The following is an example of what happens regularly:
We meet in the Google Classroom. As I sit at my desk in my Hillsboro and my student sits at his desk in his home in Munsonville, I give the following instructions.
“It’s time to bring out your pumpkins now.” No pumpkins could be found.
“The pumpkins fill up a whole piece of orange paper. They are in a folder and the folder is in your white wooden box.“
My student hunted for 7 minutes and then found the white box. I was ecstatic when I saw him holding the box. There was a time when I would have been frustrated with this process. Now I recognize that it is part of the learning process. Inside the box are the yellow folder and the orange pumpkins. The markers were located, and work was done on creating a happy face on #1.
I have had to adjust my expectation of what my class can accomplish in 30 minutes.
There are times when the materials are found quickly and the lesson plans I make for 4 hours are accomplished in less than 3 hours. Lately, though, the lesson that I expect to take one hour takes a 90-minute spot because of the time spent hunting for supplies.
This is a great time for students to learn to follow spoken and written instructions in a greater way. By turning it into a game rather than a difficult task makes it fun rather than torture.
Virtual learning is a very different experience than in person. Finding ways to make it more exciting is also part of the game. Nothing looks or feels quite the same as it used to.