Everyday Education: Remote Learning And The Role Of The Parent
Last updated 4/6/2020 at 12:50pm
The last few weeks have turned our worlds upside down regardless of who you are or where you are. Visiting a grocery store is so different and actually worrisome, getting a haircut is just not possible right now, and spending time with friends and family requires distancing. I can’t even fathom what it might be like to be a medical professional at this time, but I am quite familiar with what it is like to be an educator and a parent of a college student in this new norm of learning from home. The bottom line...it is not easy!
As an educator in an elementary school, I can not believe how much can change in a period of a few days. We left school on Friday, March 13, with some focus on the “what if’s,” but it was not until the announcement on March 14 that schools would be closed that this became “real” for many of us.
Luckily, we had some experience in our county with what we referred to as “Blizzard Bags” or “Virtual Work,” but the dominoes that would fall with the need to close for an extended time would not become apparent for days to come.
If you hop onto Facebook or another social media platform, it won’t take long to see parents posting funny things about their “homeschooling” experiences. I must admit I have chuckled, but all jokes aside, this is some tough stuff! Parents have been “slung” into the position of what I refer to as a learning coach without educational training or much of a notice to mentally prepare.
However, from what I am seeing, parents are truly rocking the new title.
As the instructional coach for Rosman Elementary, I have received messages and phone calls from many parents over the last few weeks. It is keeping me busy (which is how it should be), but more importantly it has made my heart so happy that parents are eager to partner with us, learn with us and take a center stage role in their child’s education. These parents are on fire with the desire to make sure their child is getting all they can educationally in a time that no one would have ever predicted or believed.
I have also been overcome with the level of appreciation parents are expressing to us as educators and as their partners in education. They have shown this through little notes and gifts that teachers found tucked in the work returned by the students to be graded, by postcards and notes received in the mail (one of mine from a child even included a reminder for me to wash my hands thoroughly), and by shout outs on social media to teachers. My favorite was the genuine “thank yous” and what we have started referring to as “air hugs” from parents and students when picking up work or receiving help online or over the phone.
Parents have also expressed an appreciation for student assignments and have expressed heightened appreciation for tasks such as writing someone a letter, cleaning a room, readily accepting new chores, and journaling these weeks (which could become real treasures in the years to come).
Through these conver-sations and difficulties parents have shared with me, I would like to share a few things that I have been suggesting to parents to hopefully make this “new norm” a bit easier.
1. Remember that although you (the parent) are not a professional educator, you have access to many people who are and they are ready and willing to help. Reach out! A lack of understanding on your part can cause an increased anxiety in an already stressful time.
2. Set a schedule for your child. Schoolwork should not take all day. Whatever hours work for you and your family, that is fine but make it the same Monday-Friday.
3. Create a space for your child to work. This should be the space used daily for schoolwork. Work, sleep and play areas should be kept separate.
4. Have your child complete all work with integrity. If an assignment is not up-to-par and you know the child has not done his or her best, insist that it be reworked.
5. Take breaks as needed! This could be helpful for the adult or the child!
6. Review your child’s work. Not only will this allow you to see what your child is doing, but it will also help you communicate with your child’s teacher about areas of difficulty.
7. Monitor your child when he or she is online. It is very important to monitor sites your child is visiting and also times of day your child is online.
8. Enjoy books together. If you do not have enough books, contact your child’s teacher or school. We will make sure to help with this.
9. And remember...this is new for all of us and it might be “messy” and that is OK for now!
So, I say “hats off” to so many people in our world today from truck drivers to postal workers to scientists working so hard to find ways to keep us healthy, but I also say “job well done” to the parents and families of our precious students. Keep them safe, keep them learning and remind them we love them more than they will ever know.
(Whitman is the instructional coach at Rosman Elementary School.)