Transitioning to Virtual Learning

Since the global pandemic caused schools to shift to a remote virtual learning approach, Watson’s students and educators have worked to adapt to new routines. Recently, a special education teacher in the Watson Institute Social Center for Academic Achievement (WISCA) program, Sydney Larner, shared her thoughts on how virtual learning has impacted her team and her students.

Ms. Larner also interviewed her student, Anna, and Anna’s father, Jeremy, to get their insight on what this transition experience has been like for them.

Special Education Teacher Reflects on Virtual Learning Transition

Sydney Larner has been a teacher of middle school-age students with high-functioning Autism in the WISCA program for 2 years. In the WISCA special education program, students learn through an online curriculum which helps them meet the academic requirements set forth by their home school district paired with in-class instruction tailored to meet their individualized needs and help them reach their developmental and social goals.

Ms. Larner shared that most of her students, who are between the ages of 12 to 14, were acclimated to some degree of virtual learning, as they have an established online learning program that they follow throughout the school year. “I think that having that prior exposure to online learning helped them with this transition.”

Ms. Larner and her team are now supporting their students’ academic and functional needs with supplemental video check-in calls and a virtual homeroom that she set up in Fuel Education, their online learning platform. Technology has helped her team stay in touch with the students as well as keep the lines of communication open with their families to ensure their needs are being met as they adapt to learning from home.

For students with Autism, routine and consistency are important to their continued success while learning remotely. Ms. Larner and her team support each student by providing materials that have been tailored to suit their unique needs for them to work through at home.

As soon as schools moved into distance learning through virtual classrooms, she and her team outlined how the rest of the school year would proceed and set up clear lines of communication.  She’s been pleased with how quickly her students adapted and embraced the changes.

Flexibility and strong communication between the families and educators are important during a time like this as everyone adjusts to a different way of learning and teaching. She said that “finding new ways to be consistent and keep the learning alive was what really drove me and my students to keep up and not lack in routine or structure.”

Teacher Q&A with WISCA Student & Parent Regarding Virtual Learning

As Sydney was reflecting on her own experience as a teacher, she also reached out to a few of her students, including Anna who is in 7th grade and has been a student in the WISCA program for 3 years. Ms. Larner wanted to hear from her students and their families how this transition to virtual learning has affected them. 

Check out the video to hear from Anna and her father Jeremy firsthand as Sydney asks them to share what this virtual learning experience has been like for them.

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