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Improving Outcomes for English Learners with Disabilities Newsletter & Highlights

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A Voice from the Field: Vanessa Lopez

Vanessa has been an educator for 18 years and in her present role as Coordinator for the Imperial Valley SELPA (Special Education Local Plan Area) she partners with teachers to support their work with a high population of students who are dually-identified, English Learners who receive Special Education services. She is dedicated to the students and their families in the largely rural, agricultural communities in the Imperial County. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Vanessa’s approach was to encourage teachers to explore and be creative with technology but to keep the focus on pedagogy that supports content learning and language acquisition. Realizing that the transition in Spring 2020 to virtual teaching and learning was something new for teachers, administrators, students, and families and “truly a shock to everyone’s system”, Vanessa had to respond to field requests coming in from school sites, and reply with suggestions that were responsive to the unique needs of dually-identified special education students and that could be accomplished with resources that teachers already had and those that could be accessed right away. Alongside teachers, she has co-constructed solutions while challenging herself and educators to replicate the social interaction our students really need, monitor student learning, and hold students accountable without overwhelming them.

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