If we were sharing a glass of wine, I would lift a glass in toast to you:
The Educational Support Person who may or may not have a background in special education but is learning not only how to teach online, but teaching a child whose biggest accomplishment in your session is that they did not turn off the computer on you. This teaching is brand new to both you and the child, yet you persevere.
The Occupational Therapist, whose entire job depends on hand-over-hand and demonstrating skills up close and personal. In the life before the pandemic, you would break every instruction down to the most minute detail. Now you are trying to do that online with parents who may not even have the supplies you need to teach that skill, yet you persevere.
To the Physical Therapist, who we depend on to help our children with balance, mobility and stretching and needs to be in the room with the child to be truly effective but cannot. Now you are instructing a family online and hoping they do not inadvertently perform the moves incorrectly, yet you persevere.
To the Speech Therapist, who needs the child to look at you to be engaged. Teaching articulation online is difficult, when the child whispers, looks away or has a computer with poor audio. You are thinking outside the box, trying to keep the child engaged and then screen freezes, yet you persevere.
To the ABA Specialist, everything you teach is 1:1 and based on compliance. Your students rarely make eye contact and most are non-verbal, yet you set the bar high for your students, and slowly make gains. The progress is painfully slow, but you persevere.
To the Special Education Teacher who is used to teaching academics in a 1:1 or small group setting. You are now devising weekly lesson plans for each child on your caseload. As their skills are so varied, you have to individualize everything from online learning platforms, flashcards and handouts. You have to teach the child over a computer how to use a computer, yet you persevere.
To the Parent who now fulfills the roles of OT, PT, SPT, ABA and SPED without any background, training, notice or support. You are the person most likely dealing with tantrums (sometimes your own), feeling overwhelmed and alone. You feel so far out of your depth, yet you persevere.
To all those working on the front lines of Special Education, I raise my glass to you. It’s Friday night, thank you for a week that we struggled and laughed through. Now raise your glass and let the weekend be the weekend.