Over the past few weeks, I have searched and explored through various Special Education Twitter chats and I am also a member of Special Education teacher Facebook groups, which made me want to compile several useful Edtech tools to help with case managing students enrolled in Special Education in K-12 schools. Ultimately, I would like to share a number of tips for case management for remote learning by incorporating various Edtech tools to help facilitate this.
Before moving on, I want to specify that every state and district have different laws and policies regarding IDEA, which may change how your school may be moving forward with Special Education services. As a result, my goal here is to provide several Edtech tools and strategies to help case managers in K-12 education stay in contact with their students, collect student data, and conduct IEP meetings. Specifically, we are going to focus on Google G-Suite Edtech tools since the vast majority of schools and districts have access to these tools.
Communication with Parents and Students – Google Voice
Since we are all away from our brick and mortar office/classroom phones, one way to communicate with families and students while conducting remote learning is through Google Voice. Google Voice is a free service that allows you to use one phone number in place of your old phone number. This allows you to have a phone on hand with a number not designated to your personal phone, which is important as you never want to use your personal number for work duties.
Google Voice has several key features that can help Special Education teachers communicate with parents and students on their caseload. What’s great about Google Voice is that it can be accessed on a PC or smartphone, which gives users access to the service anywhere. Additionally, there is a feature that allows for all incoming calls using the Google Voice number to be sent directly to your current mobile phone (without your real number being used) to take the call. Also, when voice calls and text messages are sent, they are automatically logged into its memory and can be used as records of your phone calls and messages to ensure accountability and transparency (be sure to let your parents and students know that all communications are recorded). As a result, there is a repository of text and call records teachers and administrators can access if there is a need to review.
At the end of the day, Google Voice will help you communicate with your students to ensure they are participating in online learning on a daily/weekly basis. In addition, you will be able to contact families to ensure accountability with the student as well as assess how they are doing in their online learning.
IEP Meetings – Google Meet & Google Calendar
IEP meetings may look much different during remote learning given which directions districts are going regarding how they are going to implement IEP services. While some districts may continue to not have IEP meetings in the short term, they will likely be back one way or another before the school year is over. Thus, meeting on a platform that is safe is a must, which means at this point, Google Meet is currently the best widely used platform to conduct IEP meetings on as well as online classes.
Google Meet has all of the key features needed for IEP meetings; a scheduling apparatus through Google Calendar (click more options and then create your Meet), screen sharing, and video/audio recording. Also, just as important, it’s accessible because an active link can be sent to any participant by email if this is the mechanism you would like to send your IEP meeting invites to parents and/or service providers. Lastly, one major tip while using Google Meets, be sure you are the last person to exit the meeting to ultimately end the meeting using Google Meet. The meeting will not end until everyone has completely left the Google Meet session.
Collecting IEP Data – Google Forms
Collecting IEP data remotely for academic goals may have some hurdles depending on how goals are written, but there are a number of ways to collect ongoing data throughout remote learning to help provide evidence students are making progress on IEP goals as well as moving forward with their present levels. Google Forms is an efficient and effective tool to send out present level surveys to your student’s general education teachers.
In the case of present level surveys, they can be generalized so teachers can provide input for reading, writing, mathematic, science, communication, and behavior. Questions on the survey can be open-ended and/or in the form of multiple-choice/likert scale; it’s your choice. Be sure to always provide a demographic section of the form for teachers to provide their name, date, and subject they cover. Also, remember to create a specific form for the student by writing their name at the top of it. Finally, be sure your survey takes no more than 3 to 5 minutes to complete as general education teachers will have other present level surveys to complete during the week. Ultimately, to make things much more transparent, school sites and districts should develop are standardized present level surveys Special Education teachers at the primary and secondary levels can access and send out to ensure general education teachers see a standardized survey they are familiar with to complete for their students.
In regard to goal data collection, a Google Form can be built specifically with the IEP goals in place and teachers will be required to complete the survey by providing evidence of whether students are making progress or not with the curriculum being provided online. Similar to the present level survey, the goal survey needs to have a basic demographic section for general education teachers and other stakeholders and then have the goal input questions be open-ended so teachers can input the data. Be sure to send the goal progress surveys out to teachers via email at least two weeks in advance before the meeting in order to give yourself enough time to collect the data.
Case management is one of the most difficult parts of the job for Special Education teachers. Through this post, I hope you were able to think about how you can apply the tools I discussed as you begin remote learning with your students. Also, I hope you can think about other Edtech tools you have at your disposal to help you with this part of the job. At the of the day, the goal is to be the most effective and efficient with your time case managing so you can serve all of your students to the best of your ability. It’s a tough job; but, I know with some great Edtech tools on hand and planning, it can be done effectively!