Oh boy. Remember February? January? Or even a week ago? We had a schedule and a routine. We waved goodbye to our kids at the bus stop, and we greeted students as they entered the classroom. We went to work; we taught; we sent kids to sport practices, playdates, and birthday parties. We welcomed kids back from school and learned about what they did in class, PE, art and music. Then, with little warning, we became homeschool parents and distance-learning teachers.
Yesterday, we finished day one of teleworking and full-time homeschooling, in the midst of ensuring we have all the right resources for educators and parents on the coronavirus. Meanwhile, we’re getting ready for our annual American Federation of Teacher's (AFT) Share My Lesson Virtual Conference next week (it might be the only conference not canceled). Breathe. My husband is a 12th-grade high school English teacher. Even though he’s an incredibly effective teacher, we both feel woefully unprepared to homeschool our two children (ages 4 and 7).
Over the weekend, we saw lots of examples of homeschool agendas; ultimately, we put our new schedule on construction paper (which may eventually be needed as toilet paper):
Or this helpful schedule that floated around the internet and social media:
And then there was this amended schedule, which provided a lot of laughter when we needed it:
We attempted to follow the schedule and found our kids being more the teacher than the student. Our first-grader was very good at telling us how her teacher, Dr. Vick, did this and that. Oh, and she loved PE (which for us was a walk in the woods).
And then there was the balance of videoconferencing and live webinars with kids coming in and out of the room. Remember this gem? I predict more of these videos popping up on late night talk shows or “American’s Funniest Home Videos.”
Remote Learning: Thoughts on The New Normal
I don’t know if you are going through the ups and downs of this new “normal,” but I sure am. On the one hand, I’m glad to have more time at home with my kids, and I do not miss the Washington, D.C., traffic. I’m finding humor everywhere I can to stay sane, and I’m exercising every day, even if it’s just going for a walk.
On the other hand, I feel completely inadequate when it comes to ensuring that our kids are getting the academics they need when my time is divided between them and my work. I am mourning the loss of our normal school day schedule with my daughter’s first-grade teacher (a teacher of the year who has moved mountains with our daughter’s learning). We literally felt like we hit the jackpot when we got Dr. Vick this fall. She has created a community of committed learners, mathematicians and bird lovers. And I see Dr. Vick’s handiwork in our daughter’s commitment to learning, even at home.
We know it is overwhelming. That's why we are continuing to build our AFT's SML collection of resources on the coronavirus for parents and educators who are trying to find a new normal. This new resource list features free online tools for educators and parents alike. From online communication tools, like Zoom, or online classes from Scholastic, we have made our recommendations based on age group and topic to make it easy to find something for everyone.
As you explore each resource, you will find instructions on how to directly access the free resources now, or find thousands of free lessons already added to Share My Lesson by our partners.
If you’re a parent of younger kids, how are you doing it? What’s your schedule? How is remote learning working? And how is it working for middle school and high school students?
As an educator, what is your best advice for parents? Comment here.
Kelly Carmichael Booz oversees the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) PreK-12 online resources serving 1.9 million educators on the AFT's ShareMyLesson.com, the AFT's E-Learning professional development platform, and the production and dissemination of PreK-12 publication for the AFT's 1.7 millio