Paraeducators support students with learning disabilities — remotely

PHOTO: Paraeducators provide organizational support to students with learning disabilities during distance learning.

By Alex Miyamoto, Staff–

Students with learning disabilities at Davis High are adapting to a new way of learning and receiving virtual support.

Senior Oliver Hernandez has enjoyed remote learning so far.

“I have the coolest teachers this year,” Hernandez said. His favorite class is Student Government, which allows him to participate in the planning of DHS activities.

But, there is a downside. “I miss being able to see my friends in person every day,” Hernandez said. 

The quarter block schedule allows students of all abilities to manage and keep track of their assignments. Davis Joint Unified School District’s new block schedule is, “infinitely more effective and manageable for students,” said Matt Best, Deputy Superintendent of DJUSD.

Parents of students with learning disabilities will have to increasingly support their child’s education with the shift to online learning, said Kelsey Oliver, a UC Davis researcher for the Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. 

Hernandez’s mom, Karrie Sequira, helps him navigate distance learning and provides any other support Hernandez may need.

“I find that I am a senior all over again,” Sequeira said.

Sequira noticed that, with her help, Hernandez is getting more accustomed to technology on his own and his technology navigation skills are improving.

“Use of technology can help students with disabilities to better understand information and to show their knowledge and strengths,” she said.

In addition to Sequira’s assistance, paraeducators supply Hernandez with support. He finds himself cared for and looked after. 

Hernandez praises his paraeducators. “Jesse [a paraeducator] makes sure I am working and helps me with my notes,” Hernandez said.

Other students with learning disabilities, like senior Justin Xu, miss seeing their friends at school. “I just want COVID to be over,” Justin said.

Justin’s dad Andy Xu describes him as “very independent.” Andy feels that he does not need to heavily support Justin with academics. 

“All Justin needs is help with the expectations he is supposed to meet,” Andy said.

Justin’s life science paraeducator, Dina Rodriguez, sets expectations for Justin before class that help him stay on track. It works as a reminder, as well as “reinforcement for a positive outcome prior to any negative behaviors,” according to Rodriguez.

Justin’s paraeducator supplies support through the Zoom chat box and homework help. He receives any additional support by going to the Special Education Inclusion Department Zoom meetings in the afternoon. These meetings provide homework help and student support services.

Oliver advises that teachers and school leaders should look at what research shows are “effective strategies for teaching students with disabilities,” and translate these to virtual education.

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