EDCOE Special Educators Work to Meet Family Needs

EDCOE Special Educators Work to Meet Family Needs

00:00 AM - April 22, 2020

Transitioning from in-classroom instruction to in-home distance learning is a monumental challenge that El Dorado County educators have embraced, and students are able to continue growing because of teachers’ tireless efforts. This is particularly so with our special education educators. Teams are working diligently to ensure that high-quality materials are available for families, while also remaining mindful of the added pressures that parents are managing while students are home full-time. “Special education teachers are accustomed to doing things extremely differently, and they know how to creatively solve problems,” said Amy Andersen, El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) Executive Director of Special Services. “I have always been proud of our teams, but over the last several weeks, it’s unbelievable what they can actually do.”

EDCOE Special Services department operates programs across El Dorado County, facilitated by roughly 200 team members. Within an extremely limited timespan, teams have integrated different tools to connect differently with families. The method depends upon students’ needs and household access to internet connectivity, which varies widely. For example, a household may have strong internet access. However, if the student is hard-of-hearing, Zoom is not the ideal tool to advance learning. In this instance, a teacher may model a lesson for parents to learn and teach the student. Therefore, teams are working to supply households with devices such as webcams. Many teams have integrated Google Classrooms which provide the ability to reach parents with a warehouse of resources. If households do not have internet access or students require differentiated instruction, teams may offer packet pick up and mail options. 

These circumstances may be challenging, but teachers are adapting and becoming stronger because of this experience. Amy explained, “Teachers have been meeting regularly over Zoom and collaborating at a higher level than before the school facility closures. Teachers are sharing resources, and we reach out to other EDCOE programs to learn new methods of teaching. We also understand that many parents feel overwhelmed. So teachers also focus on social-emotional wellbeing for both students and parents.”

Wendy Quenzer teaches special education at EDCOE’s Camerado Springs full inclusion preschool program and is doing extraordinary work for her students and families. She records a “Daily Circle Time” that includes fun activities, “Students received a package with tools to help make circle time at home more interactive, like tapping sticks, shaky eggs scarves and white boards. Parents send me videos of their children dancing along while I’m on the screen,” Wendy noted.

“Daily Circle Time” is uploaded to YouTube, so parents have the flexibility to watch it whenever they choose. Wendy explained, “Many parents are now working from home and taking care of their children full time. I receive appreciative texts, emails and calls from parents and grandparents. In addition, these videos are shared with other teachers.”

When went on to explain that communication is consistent with her families, and she enjoys interacting with her students on Zoom. “Parents and grandparents send me photos of their children learning, and it makes me feel connected to them.”

For more information regarding EDCOE’s Special Services Programs, visit edcoe.org