Here’s what happened between Friday and Monday: I became a first-time remote teacher and a first-time homeschool mom. It felt like my world was spinning—I have two boys, a five-year-old and a two-year-old. I also have 180 high school students who depend on me and come to me for motherly guidance. As a teacher, it went from concern to worry to BOOM schools are closing—and just like that, we had one day to prepare for the next three weeks of online classes. As a parent, emotionally it didn’t happen so quickly. I was concerned about my at-risk son’s exposure to COVID-19. I fearfully waited and requested packets. I told my son’s teacher I would pull him out “sooner than later”.
And then it happened and now my levels of worry are record-breaking—how can I possibly be a good mom, an online teacher and a homeschooling parent all at once? My kids will be safe, but will my students? Unfortunately, not every child has a healthy environment at home.
As a teacher, I’m learning that my days require an extraordinary amount of attention to my online classes. I am posting new assignments, grading yesterday’s assignments and inputting those grades into the online parent portal. I need to call my student’s parents to wake up their child to sign in for homeroom. I am answering emails from students and parents all day and night long.
As a parent, my kindergartener needs me to organize and set up his assignments for each “work session”. Our schedule goes like this: We have broken it down into three sessions which is morning, lunch and late afternoon. It has taken a lot of trial and error, tears and tantrums, but we are finally getting into the swing of things. He needs me to deliver the instruction and walk him through each assignment and he needs to complete his timed online work for his attendance to count. However, I also want him to work on handouts and his writing skills because I don’t want to see him regress, so we’re doing that too. And we need to fit in physical activity every day for his sanity. So, while this schedule works, each assignment and “work session” is a true fight. It’s challenging for my son to receive his education from me—and even though I am a certified teacher, I’m struggling too, because I’m not used to providing my child his education. Believe me when I say this—teaching is very different when it’s not your kid.
Between managing my virtual classes and our homeschool schedule, there’s also my toddler who was doesn’t have his usual daycare routine. He follows his older brother around, creating a distraction and chaos during school time for everyone.
For me, these different worlds have never collided. But here I am, living it, with no choice. The reality is this: It’s been hard, and overwhelming being pulled in three different directions every second of the day. I am physically and mentally drained. There are also so many emotions because I feel sad for my children and my students. Since I pulled my son from school a day early, he never got to say goodbye to his classmates and teachers. We receive daily emails from his teacher, and I get emotional while reading them to him. He instantly perks up and is happy to hear from her, but seconds later I see and feel the heartache. He misses it—the interaction, the instruction, his best friend, his class—we’re all very emotional.
I understand and feel for him because I miss my school too. I miss my students and coworkers, especially the laughter among my colleagues or joking with my students. I’m concerned for those students who struggle in school and the families who have lost their jobs and income. I constantly question the long-term effects of this time.
But among all this uncertainty and struggle, I am seeing the good. I am thankful for all the extra family time and to be able to hug and kiss my boys all day long. I’m grateful that my family is healthy and at home, our safe place. I am thankful for my rapport with my students because they can reach out to me and I will do anything to help them through this time. Through this all, we need to stand together, and to all of you struggling—you got this.