Many parents chose the on-line learning option for their children. At the time, they were more concerned about Covid and could not predict the chaos that would follow in their homes. They were not prepared for the disruptions to their own careers when they too were thrown into being a distant employee with a home office. They couldn’t anticipate the negative impact post Covid of the little help they provided with nightly homework and projects prior to on-line learning.
Many schools have provided a hybrid type of learning where some children are in the class, while others are on-line. Parents have complained that the on-line teacher isn’t meeting their distance learning children.
It’s helpful to look through the lenses of the other person and see the situation from their perspective.
Parent’s Lens: When I step into the parents’ shoes, I see how overwhelmed they are. They don’t have the time to meet their children’s needs while caring for their own business or siblings. Parents are struggling with a lack of skills to be a teacher at home. It was easy guiding children through one math problem before covid, but they are not equipped to do it all. As a parent and teacher, I was not the right person to teach my own children. I found it better to send my children back to the teacher than deal with the nightly stress that resulted from conflict over homework. The stress lasted long past the time when they were angelically sound asleep in their beds. I understand that stress.
Teachers’ Lens: I can truly speak to this. I was a Covid distance teacher. I was not equipped to go distance. Even though I would entertain mindful use of technology, I wasn’t a huge advocate for over using it in the classroom. I lacked the skills to go directly to on-line learning. I was waking at 5 am to go over work that was turned in the day before so I could be prepared to reteach concepts and up until 11pm planning for the next day. My weekends were spent conferencing with my teammates and creating documents to adapt our lesson to on-line friendly versions.
I was thrown into the deep end with my students. I know what it is like to present a lesson and even with another adult on-line with me, I couldn’t see who raised their hands and who was lost. I know what it is like when an application didn’t work, students got bumped off line, or the connection was inconsistent. I know the stress that teachers were experiencing while administration was adding even more demands. It was like taking asking a mechanic to remove a tooth. I was really out of my comfort zone. If it weren’t for my amazing problem solving students, I don’t know how I would have survived.
Student’s Lens: Students who were dependent on their parents for help were lost and frustrated. They relied on their parents to solve problems in the past and didn’t have any means of relief when parents were not available. Many of them were feeling the results of pro-longed stress. They began feeling so overwhelmed they gave up and stopped working. The relationships with their parents was strained more than at any time in their lives. They could not see the forest for the trees and just wanted to escape. Many had such impacted schedules prior to Covid that they didn’t know how to entertain themselves. The most important part of school for many children is being with peers. I would go to school early just to see my friends and swing on the rings. They didn’t have that. They relied heavily on their after school sports for the experience that would feed their sensory systems, so many of them are suffering from a lack of exercise. Students whose lenses are limited because of a lack of strategies were the most frustrated of all students.
Covid Through the Lens of a Resilient Empowered Student: My students had a different view of the sudden change in their schooling.They had learned to be resilient beginning in September when they were no longer able to receive assistance from anyone but me. They had an “I am able to I handle this” attitude. They said, “I may make mistakes along the way, but they won’t throw me. I know if I try different ways to solve this problem, eventually I will succeed. I never give up. I know how to ask questions in a way that allows my brain to see answers. When I get frustrated, as will happen at times, I just go for a walk, a bike ride, or go swimming. Then the answers come to me. I skip what I am challenged by and sometimes the answer pops into my head by just walking out of the room. I know I will be fine if what I try doesn’t work. It just means I didn’t find the thing that would work.”
Since I have never been able to see their perspective until they helped me see through their lenses, my students had to learn how to advocate for themselves, so I turned to them to get some help in meeting their needs. When they complained about something, I asked them to come up with a solution. They made all sorts of wonderful suggestions which allowed them to help me co-create a classroom that would work for all of us. Their confidence grew by leaps and bounds. More than at any time in my teaching career.
It’s important for all of us to try to see through each other’s lenses. Teaching students that it is okay to share how they see their world is going to be crucial for their future success. Helping them overcome the fear of asking questions is the topic of my upcoming presentation. Stay tuned for the announcement.