I have been a first-grade teacher for 16 years, and I’ve had a few tough years. But nothing compares to the school year I just had.
I have learned that things are constantly changing in education. You are forced to go with the flow, even if you find it overwhelming and uncomfortable. But changing from teaching in person in a classroom filled with children to remote teaching is not a slight change. In all my years of teaching, I wasn’t prepared for this.
To teach the concepts my students needed to know, I was forced to quickly learn how to use Google Classroom and was searching for lessons on unfamiliar websites. I am not a very tech-savvy person, so things that may only take a few minutes for some was taking me much longer.
Something that made things even more challenging for me was having my kindergartener home with me and needing to help her with all of her schoolwork while trying to complete my own. She didn’t know how to log on, and she can only read three- or four-letter words, so she needed me to read the directions to her for almost every assignment. So during the day, I had to juggle answering emails from the parents of my students, who may have been having technical difficulties with a website or just had a question, and making sure my daughter got all of her work done.
On top of that that, when my daughter was done with her work, she would ask me to go outside and play or to do some activity with her. Most of the time, I would have to tell her that I couldn’t do it. I had to respond to emails, or I had a Zoom call teaching me more about Google Classroom. It looked like I was home, but I wasn’t really available. I would get her snacks when she was hungry but, other than that, I was constantly telling her I was busy.
Normally, I can give school my full attention. I’m there until around 5:00, when I finally have to leave to pick my daughter up from after-care. Since I had my daughter home and couldn’t fully focus on work during the day, I was checking all my students’ work and posting the following day’s assignments at night, when she was in bed. I was staying up late working on my school Chrome book until midnight almost every night.
I would have mom guilt when I wasn’t giving my daughter my attention, and I had teacher guilt if I gave my daughter 15 or 20 minutes to go play outside with her.
It’s well known that many children don’t behave as well for their parents as they do for other adults. Kids act up more with their parents. I know mine does!
I have heard so many parents tell me how their children give them problems with doing homework or following directions at home, and they are shocked that they listen in the classroom. I know exactly what they are talking about. My daughter’s only issue in school was occasionally talking to classmates during work time.
At home with me during remote learning, she would complain that she didn’t want to do all of the work, whine if there was drawing involved, cry because she wanted to go be with other kids. After the first two weeks, she didn’t like the daily Zoom calls with her class. She would also tell me I was wrong if I tried to correct her and when I explained that I was pretty sure I knew what I was talking about since I teach the grade above hers. She didn’t care. I knew that, everyday during school work, there would be at least one argument.
We’re supposed to be returning to school in September, but I know there’s a good chance we will end up doing remote learning again. I just hope there’s a group of people who have experience in an elementary classroom, putting their minds together to figure out a way to make remote learning work. I know it can’t be perfect, but there has to be a better way. This wasn’t easy for anyone, and it needs to be figured out for the betterment of our kids and for parents everywhere.
Make a schedule
If your child likes choices, let them help decide the order of the schedule if possible (My daughter liked to start with math)
For younger kids, try to get most of the work done in the morning (If you don’t have a set schedule from school)
Take Small breaks after 2 or 3 assignments (Set a timer for breaks)
Give a reward on Saturday if your child cooperated and was a good listener during the week with their school work, for example electronics, a day trip to somewhere fun, ice cream, play date, etc. (Some children may need a daily reward)
It looked like I was home, but I wasn’t really available. I was constantly telling my daughter I was busy.