Be Encouraged: Q & A with a local educator
The following statements are the opinion of a local educator and not the authorized statements of the state or any local school district.
Q) What is the best way for parents to tackle the homeschool process?
A)For parents trying to help their children succeed with online learning, the first thing you must remember is not to put too much pressure on yourselves. Certainly every parent wants to make sure their child is not behind, but remember, everyone in the country is in the same boat, so your child is not going to be a year behind his or her classmates when things get back to normal. So don’t push yourself to get things accomplished if you’re not really able to. Take your time. Don’t stress yourself. And don’t stress your kids. You know what they are capable of and whether they need a break or not.
Secondly, collaborate with teachers as much as possible. Ask questions. Send messages. Get tips and advice from them on how to best relay the information. Especially if you have younger kids who are already used to the way teachers model to them. K-2 depends greatly on teacher modeling—how words are pronounced, movements and expressions. Young kids depend on that to develop phonetically. Parents may have to ask their teachers, “can you show me how to do this, how to express this so my child can receive it the way he or she was able to receive it in class.” Teachers understand that and are willing to help in that way. More now than ever, parents have to be advocates for their child’s learning process.
Q) What is the expectation of parents and students from the school’s perspective?
A) Every household is in a different situation. Some parents are working from home. Some parents are essential workers. Some parents are out of work and so they are dealing with that stress. With so many different situations, it’s impossible for everyone to be at the same pace. The most we can ask for from parents in these unprecedented times is just do your best. Your best is good enough.
Q) What are some of the difficulties that teachers are having?
A) Teachers are struggling the most with the feeling of adequacy. There is no measurement for adequacy under these circumstances. In school, evaluations by principals were pivotal to knowing if teachers were teaching at a proper level. But principals cannot evaluate teachers under the current circumstances. The only other way teachers are usually able to evaluate themselves is assessments—tests, quizzes and so on. But the students are not able to test in a proper way right now so teachers can’t use that to judge their own performance. Also, it’s hard to for teachers to connect with all their students. When students are in your class you have them. But when they are at home, teachers are dependent on parents’ schedules. And so, they may not be able to connect with the students to see if they are grasping the information. So, teachers are struggling with knowing if they are doing a good job for their students.
Also, many teachers struggle with work-life balance. Elementary teachers especially often times have children in elementary school. Many teachers are trying to make sure their students are getting what they need and make sure their own children are getting what they need. Plus having to manage the needs of their households.
Q) What are the best resources for parents in homeschooling their kids?
A) Ultimately teachers ask themselves four questions when they are reflecting on themselves, and this is something that parents need to now ask themselves.
1. What am I teaching my kid—do I understand it myself?
2. How am I going to teach this to my kid?
3. How do I know they learned it?
4. What am I going to differently to make sure they understand?
For questions one and four, a conversation with your child’s teacher, or a teacher you know, is your best resource. They can help you grasp the material and relay things in different ways to try to make sure your child understands. For questions two and three, there are apps and websites that can help you teach the information and make learning fun for you child. For example: www.quizlet.com, www.socrative.com, www.quizizz.com, www.cram.com, and www.kahoot.com. For Kahoot and Quizlet you will need two electronic devises, one for the parent and one for the student.
Above all, please take comfort in the fact that we are all in this together. While we all wish for more clarity and simplicity, the truth is we are all dealing with the same uncertainty because of this virus. But we are dealing with it together. And we can succeed together just by each one of us doing the best we can do.