As schools let out for summer, there are undoubtedly aspects of the past year that teachers and parents alike are ready to leave behind.
But then there are the benefits that some are hoping stick around. Among them: better communication strategies and tools that make it easier for special education parents and teachers to interact.
Those are lessons that should stay in place long after our current era of remote learning, says research analyst Lanya McKittrick, who focuses on special education and families at the Center on Reinventing Public Education. She recently co-authored a report on how charter schools effectively supported students with disabilities during the pandemic and is blogging about the topic.
“If you don’t have good communication, that partnership really breaks down,” she says, referring specifically to parents and educators. “A lot of families are under a lot of stress, grieving or what have you, so what can we learn from that special ed community about communication and relationships and the importance of those during that time?”
McKittrick says families were left feeling like special education was an afterthought during much of the pandemic. They were empathetic toward schools in Spring 2020 as educators scrambled to make remote learning happen, she adds. But McKittrick’s analysis of school reopening plans for Fall 2020 revealed little mention of special education programs.
McKittrick’s disappointment didn’t just come from her role as a researcher. She’s also a mom to four children, three of whom are deafblind.