Light House Educators Reflect on Remote Instruction
When coronavirus-related shutdowns forced our educators to move to remote instruction, they quickly realized their students weren’t the only ones learning.
Pandemics don’t play by the rules. They don’t schedule their arrival at a convenient time, like
school vacation. Instead, they behave like that unwanted houseguest- the one who shows up unexpectedly, eats all your food, demands your attention 24-7, doesn’t let you leave your house, and just won’t go away despite all the hints you drop about the things you need to do that don’t involve them.
Fortunately, our educators are resilient. They are strong. And, when unwanted houseguests take over, they get creative and continue to discover new ways to deliver support despite not being able to leave their homes. When coronavirus-related shutdowns became inevitable, our educators quickly pivoted, checked in with our families on their unique needs, re-structured curriculum to fit new learning models delivered via technology, and dug in. Along the way, they may have also learned a thing or two about themselves.
Special Education Teacher Julie Hill thought she struggled with technology. Being forced to utilize technology to reach her students, she realized, “I am more technologically savvy than I gave myself credit for before Covid-19; students are resilient and incredibly flexible in times of need; and parents are the true rock stars during distance learning- we couldn’t have done it (successfully) without their undying attention to their students.”
Education Director Kathy White loves connecting in-person. Engaging students through technology with the support of their families has been an eye-opening experience for her. “I learned that I work better as a teacher and administrator when I can walk into each classroom, hear the activity and learning and see happy students. We all had a crash course in technology and how to engage our students. Our students often showed that they were happy to see their staff and each other, and learned to adjust to the video presentations. The families were so engaged and encouraging. A huge responsibility that they took on and succeeded! Some days were better than others, but the entire team was flexible. I have said repeatedly that a true ‘silver lining’ to this difficult situation is that parents have learned a great deal from having our professional team in their home. Parents know their students best, but most were not trained in techniques or approaches we use to successfully engage students. Parents are able to reinforce skills more completely because of this ‘in home’ training. Speech, OT, and PT have been very successful at modeling skills to be learned.”
DDS Program Coordinator Kelsey Brown has always understood that being able to connect is what sets us apart as a program provider. “Throughout all of this, I have learned even from a distance we are still connected. We will do what it takes to continue to provide a great service to our individuals. It has been a great experience being able to see our individuals in their home environment. One of our individuals did not have access to a device. We were able to speak to him and his family via phone, he enjoyed the conversation but he wanted to see his peers and staff. Light House lent one of our iPads to him. Staff delivered the iPad to him, while practicing social distancing, helped set up a new email and a Zoom account for him. Now, he is able to join in our meetings successfully daily. Our individuals are some important to us and we will do what it takes to provide a great service to them.”
Special Education Teacher Rebecca Atkins feels that dedicated families are key in the success of what we do at The Light House. During the pandemic, she learned how they were willing to go the extra mile to ensure the continued success of their children. “I knew our families were amazing but I did not know how dedicated they could be to their child’s routine and learning. While this time has been chaotic and uncertain, families have gone above and beyond to juggle work, multiple children and other responsibilities, all while maintaining significant focus on their child’s (our LH student’s) virtual learning and connection to their LH normalcy.”
Life Campus Director Catherine Chow knows it takes a community to prepare individuals for life. She learned that her job “is about connections whether they are in person or over a video chat.” Participants, she said, “are flexible and invested in their time with us, while wanting to overcome the physical barrier to connect. We, staff, parents, and participants, all benefited from being real with each other and checking in on each other's mental health all the time.”