Teachers of Special-Needs Students Struggle With Feelings of Helplessness

Updated: May 19, 2020

This article originally appeared in The New York Times on April 28, 2020 by Alina Tugend.


Remote learning has proved challenging for students who need intensive one-on-one guidance. They have spent decades honing their patience and optimism at one of the most demanding jobs in education: teaching children with special needs.

But many of these veteran educators say they feel more worried, depleted and, at times, more helpless than ever as they try to teach their students — many of whom need intensive one-on-one guidance — through their screens.


“Serving students with special needs is already a challenge on a regular basis,” said Estella Owoimaha-Church, a theater and English teacher in Los Angeles. “Now, trying to meet accommodations and modifications through a computer is near impossible. It’s hard to figure out where to start.” A number of her students need special education.


While many teachers are struggling, the obstacles experienced by those who teach children and young adults with disabilities are daunting.