For me, one of the trickiest pieces of the year to navigate (so far!) is the uncertainty. Change is tough and even GOOD change can have accompanying stress but add in the certainty that the year is uncertain, it pushes the potential stress to a whole new level of overwhelming. We may be in person with new precautions, all distance, or some hybrid of the two. We may even work across all those settings in a single quarter without much notice. Here are some ideas to keep at the ready, so you feel more “ready.”
Be Prepared: What’s your foundation?
What are the parts of your services delivery that doesn’t have to change, regardless of setting?
Is it your accessibility to the people you serve, open communication and collaboration with colleagues, is it your parent coaching, wicked tech skills, or ability to deescalate anything, anytime, anywhere? What can stick around? For me drill work, recordable large group lesson plans, and parent coaching translate well. It gives me a sense of consistency.
Think about a “Mission Statement” to keep you motivated and focused amidst changes. Mine includes family centric support and progress starting from their level, because my population is a lot of manufacturing families, who are just trying to make it work. What would yours look like?
Be Prepared: What are your tools?
Create your “Go Bag:” what do you need to take with you if all of a sudden: you quarantine, your school shuts down, your internet goes out, you just can’t handle working from your dining room table one more minute.
Think about: a spreadsheet of students, open evaluations, service provisions, family/teacher contact information, what families preferences are in event of closure (e.g do they have internet, will the kids move to gramma’s?), your basic materials toolkit, list of passwords laptop with webcam, tablet, therapy handouts and materials in a box or in the cloud, maybe a LOT of stamps and envelopes.
Follow your DOE’s guidelines for making IEPs flexibility friendly, but IDEA compliant.
Prep your families: a brochure with your contact information and “THE PLAN” for how you will be meeting their needs. That way there’s fewer surprises and they have a better chance of transitioning with you.
Have some tools universal: a google classroom or site for resources for parents and teachers, videos through a parent contact app. You can use it regardless of settings and if it becomes a library of wonderful things… even better. I record the same push in large group lesson that I tweak all week long in person, for my virtual friends, use manipulatives and parent handouts for paper and families.
Be Prepared: What are your next steps?
Have a flowchart or thought map of “silver linings” or things that you want to try as a professional if any of the various scenarios occur. That way you feel growth and maybe a sense of accomplishment if you get to the point you’re not just treading water.