GRANADA HILLS, Calif. – These days, the at-home-classroom that special education teacher Lisa Bennett uses, blends a bit of the old school with a paper notepad, and the new school using an iPad and computer to show her students the various ways to multiply.
But even though the visual of math homework on the screen is just like how her students would see math problems on a whiteboard in a classroom, nothing is the same since Bennett began teaching from home back in March.
“There's no way distance learning is the same as being in a classroom, brick and mortar is absolutely what our students need,” said Bennett.
Bennett teaches the third, fourth, and fifth grades at Van Gogh Elementary in Granada Hills. Her students have specific learning disabilities and were used to getting one-on-one attention. That luxury is now lost, and it has been difficult for some students to focus.
“We're asking them to stare at a screen and that's not what they do in the classroom, that's not something they were used to, it's not something I was used to either,” said Bennett.
Bennett has worked tirelessly through spring and summer school to improve her work flow.
It is more exhausting prepping for her students virtually as every lesson needs to be digital and interactive. She has to put in the extra time and energy, as her students already have a deficit in specific areas.
“I can't allow them to get further behind just because we're having to do this online. So I've had to rethink, retrain, myself without much help,” said Bennett.
But Bennett and other special education teachers have turned to one another this summer for help, forming learning pods and meeting via Zoom to share what has worked.
“I think the collaboration is a key factor in becoming successful. We cannot do this alone, we are teachers and we need each other to support each other,” said Bennett.
Bennett misses being in the classroom, but is not ready to return. She says more money is needed to keep everyone safe, and to hire counselors to help students.
“If there's any profession that can pull through something it is teachers. We know how to step up to the plate and do what we need to do when we need to do it. But we need resources to also support that,” said Bennett.
There is a lot at stake for her students—emotionally and academically. But there is no guarantee of safety right now. So until that changes, crisis distance learning is a temporary but necessary solution.