Constellation Staff Shine with High Quality Professional Development for Others

Constellation Staff Shine with High Quality Professional Development for Others
Posted on 03/02/2021
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Students visit virtual sensory rooms

Last November, Special Education Coordinator Laura Horvath, Support Services Program Coordinator Jillian Lukich and special education coaches met with the Constellation Schools special education team – intervention specialists and paraprofessionals, who are supported by a speech pathologist, occupational therapists and a school psychologist – to talk about what was and wasn’t working, have a productive conversation around struggles with remote learning, and to share ideas.

Staff from one of Constellations Schools' 15 buildings – Paraprofessional Amanda Minor, and Intervention Specialists Christine Potts and Shelby Orlandi -- shared one of their best ideas with the group: creation of virtual sensory rooms for students in grades four through six. Like a traditional sensory room, the virtual one serves as a place for students to chill out and collect themselves – to take a break from the stimulus of the regular classroom.

Now, other members of the special education team are capitalizing on the great idea, each determining which of their students would most benefit from access to virtual sensory rooms and what they might need in terms of support based on their Individual Education Plans (IEPs).

Staff are creating access to the rooms – some for general use and others customized for individual students -- using attractive Google slides that invite students into the welcoming online space.

"Our intervention specialists and paraprofessionals are introducing students to the virtual rooms as they meet with them individually or in small groups," Horvath said. "They're teaching students – and their parents-- how to access the rooms through Google Classroom."

Slides guide students into different sensory rooms – from an introductory slide to one featuring educational tools and learning activities, another featuring do-it-yourself tools like painting, yoga and breathing exercises, and yet another featuring mindfulness tools and videos addressing social emotional needs and self-regulation.

"Feedback from the team has been very positive," Horvath said. "We want parents and students to know that we're still here for them. But there's value in students having access to the tools available through the virtual sensory rooms from home, even after we return to in-person classroom instruction."