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The Pandemic - A Teacher's Journey Series

Updated: Apr 23

During the COVID-19 pandemic, chaos, fear, and stress lived around us all. However, in this experience of so much tragedy, I am blessed to have found my calling as a teacher.


I ended up devoting all of my work time to one family. I homeschooled a neurodivergent elementary student initially enrolled in a Charter School in North Carolina. 


Homeschooling became a forced option for all families at the time, and this student's parents could not figure out how to do it. And switching from classroom to home was tough for him. He attended a school with very high standards and an increased curriculum level. The parent-student relationship was filled with additional work stressors and chaos, making facilitating virtual teacher calls a nightmare.


What started as just assisting in the virtual schooling led to a NEEDED homeschooling plan aside from the school. In addition, at the time, the student was known for having ADHD and sensory processing disorders, which we now know today he has been diagnosed with autism. So, gaining the trust of my students wasn't easy, especially during such a stressful time. He had their walls up, and it took a lot to figure out what was going on. This included far more than just school time. It was a full day of spending time together, playing, witnessing the behaviors, and becoming part of the family to collect all the data I needed and also build a deep relationship with the student. 



I dug into my old Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) notes and training to support him better and tried to think outside the box. We worked closely together, gradually building trust and finding ways to overcome the challenges. Adding hands-on activities, timers, breaks, toys, and other, adjusting the furniture, changing locations, and tweaking timing all played huge roles in our success. We were able to get through the difficult subjects with a support system in place, moved locations to work outside of the house to give mom space and increase focus. We breezed through the easy subjects, including a ton of movement breaks, and really adjusted the schooling schedule around his needs.


By the end of the year, it all paid off. In the 2020-21 school year, North Carolina saw more students repeating grades, according to the Department of Public Instruction. Although my student returned to school the following year, he tested as only one of the 9% of students who returned to his charter school the next year at completing 1st grade at grade level. 


It was amazing to see his confidence grow, his increased processing ability using basketball and movement in lessons, and his application of what we learned further on throughout the day. I had complete knowledge of how to connect ideas and processes as the day went on in an engaging and effortless way. That's what's so unique and beautiful about this journey—each child's needs are different. Still, with dedication, they're all possible to discover and help.


Looking back, I've learned some important lessons. Individualized education is key—every student is different, and connecting their learning to fit their needs and mind is impactful and long-lasting.


Additionally, we must remember resilience. It's okay to face setbacks; sometimes, those lessons are the exact ones we need to understand the child better; they're all part of the journey.


When focusing on self-discovery and supporting each student's unique needs, I have found great success in helping them reach their full potential. I hope sharing my story inspires others to do the same in your classroom or homeschool world. Sometimes, the simplest tasks to overcome in life have nothing to do with education at all.


Sources:


  • 2020-21 school year: Carolina Demography. (2024, January 17). Who is asked to repeat a grade in North Carolina? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Carolina Demography website



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