Being a Teacher AND a Mom during the Quarantine

I have to say, the hardest part of this ENTIRE venture into distance learning hasn't been trying to transition my classroom and teaching online.  It has been trying to transition my classroom and teaching online WHILE ALSO TRYING TO "TEACH" MY OWN CHILDREN.  
The first few weeks is almost a blur right now.  I tried to keep everything as normal as possible,  I set up my dining room table, had everyone's stuff laid out, and prepared to do my work while my own kids were doing theirs.  

And it was a complete disaster. 

EVERYONE needed help.  ALL.THE.TIME.  My students.  My students' parents.  My teenager.   My fifth grader.  My kindergartner.  My husband.   I was being torn into a thousand directions, which left little time for anything else.  I was a nervous wreck, snapping at everyone, on the verge of a mental breakdown.
Things had to change.  So I sat down and thought about what was important.  What really needed to be done to make our time in quarantine successful as a family AND as a set of learners/teacher?
Here is what I have done, so far, to make things a bit more manageable for me and my family during this unprecedented time.

1.  Schedules

My kids' teachers are all over the place with how they are rolling out their work.  That is fine and makes sense, since they are really all over the place as far as grade level expectation.  So, every day, I take a huge piece of white paper (that I grabbed from my classroom....thankfully!) and make a check off chart for my kids.  It isn't fancy.  It isn't even attractive.  BUT I draw check off boxes next to every single assignment the kids need to do that day.  
2.  Checking Work

In the beginning, I was checking off everything. I was going over everything.  I was making sure it was all right and up to par.  AND I was making myself crazy with it all.   So, to keep my own sanity, I only check on the big things that I think my kids really need to keep up on (i.e.: my oldest has an IXL requirement that is super easy to do.  She just doesn't like to do it.  It impacts her grade significantly if it isn't done, so I make sure that gets done.)  Other things, I just let go.  It is SO very hard to do that.  But in the long run, if my son doesn't score well on the one Newsela article because I was not 100% on top of him in favor of a  more present and happy mom, that's ok.

3.  Office Hours

At the urging of my district, I implemented office hours for school.  Instead of being available all hours of the day and night, I have a set time when parents know they can contact me.  It isn't perfect, and I do tend to have contact with people outside of those hours, BUT it has helped me to be more deliberate with when I am even checking the emails that are coming in.  It has helped me to establish boundaries and has made for a smoother transition between home and school.  This frees up time for me to be more focused on my home life as opposed to ALWAYS thinking about school.  

4.  Taking Breaks

We take breaks.  A lot.  At first, like real school, I was having my kids and I sit until our normal recess, lunch, after school breaks.  And it was literally killing us.  So now, we work for a bit and have breaks on the timeline every 45 minutes or so.  That is just enough time to get something done but still see the light at the end of the tunnel.  My kids are on board and I don't have to bribe them to get them to work anymore.  They break for a while, regroup, and get back to work. 

5.  Packing it Up

My dining room table is where we all work.  It was just becoming a huge, out of control mess.  So I took one of my shelves from somewhere else, put it in my dining room, and designated that as our "put it all away" station.  Everything, every day, had to go away.  Having it out and so visible was driving us all bananas.  It meant school had no boundaries.  No end.  It was ever present.  So at the end of each day, when all of the check offs are done, we put it all away.
So there you have it.  Keep in mind that, just like the quarantine itself, this is constantly changing. As time goes on, I am sure this list of what works for my family will be completely different.  But for now, it is working.  We are each more focused on what we have to do, are less stressed out, and things are much calmer at home.  And for now, that is all that matters.  

1 comment

  1. Loved this post! So many great ideas. I'm struggling with many of the same issues. Two of my grandkids (3 and 5) are home with me while I'm teaching (mom is a nurse), so I'm juggling a lot also. I will be implementing many of your ideas... Thanks!

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