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As a virtual special education teacher, I am often asked why I teach online.

My “WHY”?  My Students!

Prior to teaching online, I taught special education in a brick-and-mortar school.  During those eight years, I saw a lot of my students teased, bullied, and embarrassed about coming to my classroom for intervention. I saw them shrink away when I entered their classroom for co-teaching and small groups.

So, how is teaching special education online different?

In an online classroom, the students do not see who is getting the extra help and support during class. My students are able to private message the classroom teacher and me. They can ask questions without their classmates knowing.

Relationship-Building

In addition to co-teaching Algebra 2, I also meet with my students in small groups and individual intervention classes. My students are able to ask questions without fear of judgment. Whether it’s talking on the microphone in the classroom or on the telephone, I get to know my students, their learning styles, their strengths, and their areas of concern. I get to speak with parents on a weekly basis. If I were in a brick-and-mortar school, I might get to speak with parents once or twice a year at parent-teacher conferences.

Individualized Learning

Since I get to know my students on a more personal level, I have the ability to customize lessons based on their needs and learning style. I follow up our lessons with emails, videos, and study guides. So, even outside of the classroom, I am supporting and interacting with my students. They know I am just an email or phone call away.

Teaching online is an amazing experience. I have the joy of watching my students gain confidence, advocate for themselves, and fall in love with the learning process.

About The Author

Leanne Suttles

Leanne Suttles is an intervention specialist at Insight School of Ohio (ISOH). She co-teaches high school math and supports students with special needs. Prior to joining ISOH in February 2014, Leanne was an intervention specialist at a middle school and elementary school for eight years. Leanne graduated from Indiana University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. In 2001, she received a master’s of arts degree in special education from Ball State University, and in 2012, she earned a post-master’s certification in instructional design and technology from Walden University. Leanne lives in Sidney, Ohio, with her husband and three daughters. She loves fitness and nutrition, writing, and spending time with her family.

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