By Cori Mielke
Just a year ago that may have meant the hustle and bustle of school schedules, school supply shopping, and anxiously waiting to find out who your child’s teacher would be. A lot has changed since then. We’re learning new terms like: Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL), limited in-person instruction, and hybrid learning models. Your district might be planning Applied Learning, Teacher Facilitated Learning, and cohorts. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, I don’t blame you, with all of the changes, we’re having a hard time keeping up too.
Even though things are changing, many things are the same. In our house we’re trying to maximize our space for learning; and like every year, are trying to manage our busy schedules. We have four kids doing CDL, a college student taking online classes, and I’m working from home! School supply shopping this year means picking up cardboard and making partitions; otherwise I’ll hear “She’s looking at my paper!!!” every five seconds and we’ll all melt down. There is no denying that this year will be different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a disaster either. Students with disabilities are still entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). How special education services are delivered to your child will look different; and your partnership and participation are important in that process.
What we experienced in the spring is not what Comprehensive Distance Learning will look like in the fall. In the spring most districts were focusing on ways to maintain what students had already learned. They did not introduce new learning concepts. High school students received pass/no pass instead of grades in order to meet graduation requirements. The 20-21 school year will look more like a traditional school year in the sense that students will still need to meet instructional hours, have opportunities for teacher led learning, engage with peers, better coordination with families, and defined learning expectations and outcomes for all students.
Even if the 20-21 school year looks different, your advocacy looks the same. You are still your child’s #1 fan and advocate. You know them best. You have a vision for the future, and you are dreaming the BIG dreams! Your input is critical and important to the IEP team so they can best support your child in their learning. You and your child have learned important strategies from the spring too! You’ve learned some things that work and probably some things that don’t.
Every school year I get a little anxious for all my kids, isn’t that something we all do? This year is no different. It’s important to remember that even though things are different, they are also still the same. For me, the more grounded *I* am in our vision and trajectory for our children, the more effective I become at sharing my child’s needs. It’s ok to pause for a moment, find your footing, and set your North Star.
If you aren’t sure what this looks like for your family, I invite you to grab your favorite drink and join us for our September three-part webinar Series Special Education and the IEP: Preparing for the 20-21 School Experience and remember FACT Oregon is here for you.