Sometimes at night, when she’s trying to relax after a day of teaching online, teacher Deborah Nicotera’s phone pings.
It’s a student, asking to Facetime with her to work on assignments for a class. “I pause the movie and answer the call,’’ said Nicotera, a special education teacher at Waterville Junior-Senior High. “If that’s when they want to work I am available at their times.’’
Area special education teachers have found a number of ways to help their students with the work assigned in other classes. Despite the challenge of not seeing their students in the building each day, special ed teachers in Clinton, Brookfield and Waterville agree it’s a simple formula to succeed:
Reach the student, then teach the student.
“Kids come first, then the rest will come,’’ said Kathy Fonda, Director of Pupil Personnel Services at Clinton Central School. “It’s a challenge, but our teachers are so good about showing patience through this.’’
Special education students all are working with at least two teachers from the classroom and their special education teacher. That requires the special education teacher to know the lessons and expectations in each class the student has.
Special education students, Nicotera said, have unique needs and deal with more anxieties than most students. “My room is the safe room for kids. Fortunately we have that relationship to help get through this.’’
Kids go home to get away from school and now that is gone, she said. “They have the stress of getting their work done at home. And they are not the only ones. It’s true for all kids and so many adults,’’ Nicotera said.
Teachers have been flexible on assignments, necessary as it is taking…