At the Watson Institute, helping students with special needs achieve their academic and developmental goals is our priority. Although schools were closed in the second half of the school year for in-person learning, educators at the Watson Institute adapted their approach to ensure our students still received the educational lessons and support they needed to succeed, virtually!
Megan Megrey, or “Miss Megan” as her students call her, is a special education teacher at the Education Center Sewickley. In light of the school closures. she embraced a new way of teaching her students, who range in age from 3 to 6 years old, by utilizing a variety of online tools to deliver her lessons.
While Morning Meetings used to take place in the classroom with the aid of a SMARTBoard, after the start of the pandemic, Mrs. Megrey recorded the meetings from home and shared the videos with her students and their families, encouraging them to follow along with her audio prompts.
Virtual IEP Goal Work
Students in Mrs. Megrey’s classroom have a variety of diagnoses, including cerebral palsy, Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI), and neurological impairments, and each student’s learning and communication needs are unique to them.
Typically, special education teachers at Watson have daily one-on-one time scheduled with their students during which they can address goals as outlined in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and customize lessons and activities to ensure students are making progress.
Concerned about being able to provide an individualized approach to lessons, Mrs. Megrey started utilizing fully customized presentations for each student to ensure they were still able to work toward their unique goals.
“By providing a little bit extra for the families in terms of video ‘interactions’ and materials, it put my at ease knowing that my students could still have a little bit of a once familiar school atmosphere during a time that would otherwise be incredibly confusing for them.” shared Mrs. Megrey about her approach to individualizing virtual teaching.
Mrs. Megrey included fundamental elements of her students’ developmental and academic education into each activity she puts together. She used Core Vocabulary to model words for her students as they followed along at home using their mode of communication (verbally or with the help of a communication device), and she incorporated Fine and Gross Motor learning components into her activities like she would if they were working together in the classroom.
Mrs. Megrey adapted her lessons to her students with visual impairments and created customized materials for each family to use at home such as manipulative ideas and picture cards. Her efforts were certainly appreciated by her students’ families as they too adapted to new ways of supporting their child and working on their goals at home.
“We really appreciate all Mrs. Megrey has posted and done for us; it’s made these days go much better. Although we have loved working with our daughter at home, we can’t wait to have Madelyn back with all of you!” shared Mrs. Swadlo, whose daughter, Madelyn, is in Mrs. Megrey’s classroom.
Many of her students’ families set up their home TVs to play the morning meeting and lesson videos so they could follow along together. One family got particularly creative, connecting their son’s monitor to his IV pole to give them greater mobility and multiple positional options while watching the videos.
“We’ve always been clear that our purpose at Watson is to serve our students and their families. During this time, it’s been heartwarming coming together with other teachers to brainstorm how to fulfill this to the best of our ability through online learning.”– Mrs. Megrey
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