Today I’m going to talk about how to work with students that are medically fragile. I teach in a classroom with students that have various medical needs. There are some important things to remember when working with students that are medically fragile.
Always presume competence when working with students. Yes, our students may have lowered stamina due to their various medical diagnosis. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t create and implement challenging activities. Maybe my student can only work 15 minutes at a time and then needs a 45 minute rest period. That’s okay! We meet our students where they are.
Know Your Students
Know your students’ various medical needs. Do your students have epilepsy, use feeding tubes, need snacks at certain intervals or do they use a suction machine? Make sure you know these things and how to use them. Some schools may provide nursing for each student, but in my experience that is not always feasible. We have a permanent RN at our school and that is an amazing thing. She trains myself and my staff on how to take care of my students and is always available for emergencies. There WILL be emergencies.
You need to be prepared for when things happen, because they will happen. Students will have seizures, mickey buttons will break, pump sets will leak, ect. Make an emergency binder. In the binder put all of the students’ health plans and make sure to read them thoroughly. I like to make a “cheat sheet” at the front of each student’s section on when to call an ambulance during a seizure and when to administer emergency medications. I also make sure I have all relevant phone numbers on this page. That way in a crisis you can just grab the binder and get going.
When our students are medically fragile it’s important to log any relevant medical information. Important things to keep track of are: How often did you need to suction your student today, how many seizures did they have, how much did they eat today, and how often did they go to the bathroom. These are all important data points to track every day. It sounds like a lot, but it’s not. If you teach in a medically fragile classroom you already track toileting with a log. It takes just a few seconds to jot this information down.
Treat Your Student Like Any Other Student
This one is REALLY important. Just because our students have medical needs, doesn’t mean we need to treat them differently. Sure, we need to monitor pulse oxygen levels or provide other assistance. But that doesn’t mean we keep them in a bubble. We need to include our student, just as we would any other.
I hope this helps you when you have students that are medically fragile in your classrooms. These are all things I wished I’d been taught in college. Check out this article by Alyssa to see even more things we all wish we’d known in college. These are my tips on how to work with students that are medically fragile. If you have any questions please ask!