We have been doing Distance Learning Fall Version since the middle of August. There are no tales from that time because I thought that it was going to kill me. Every ounce of my energy went into facilitating “learning”, managing behavior, tech support, and organizing papers. Our school staff did an absolutely amazing job of engaging with the students and doing everything they could on their end to support and encourage their students. But teachers can only do so much from the other side of a screen.
All the ideas I had in the spring of how to do distance learning better were implemented by our school. I never shared my ideas with the school but they are THAT amazing! I loved that they worked so diligently to do better, and was hesitant but excited about school starting in the fall. We set up a classroom in our house, we posted schedules, and we beefed up our bandwidth; however, none of that could make up for the fact that distance learning is just not effective for 99% of kids. (Please note that 86% of my statistics are made up. If it’s not made up I will provide my source.)
Some days my first grader would be upside down in her chair; other days she would spontaneously move her whole set up into the couch (yes, into the couch, not onto the couch – she took out the cushions and put them in front of her like a wall). Still other days she didn’t want to be on Zoom at all, and I would have to redirect her back to the computer every 2-3 minutes throughout the morning.
If she got lost “in class,” she would simply take off the headphones and I would have to take over the role of teacher. After a couple weeks of this, she decided that she’d rather have me teach her and would purposely get lost.
My third grader picked up on this strategy of “getting lost” or complaining the teacher was “going too fast” or “going too slow.” She was right behind her sister in asking me to teach her the math or spelling or whatever. My constant thought has been “if I’m doing the teaching why are we even bothering with DL?”
My children’s antics made it even harder to keep track of papers and assignments. No matter how hard I tried to keep things neat and organized, it just didn’t seem to stick within the reality of our house. As a reminder, our reality is 2 kids in DL from 7:50-10:30, 1 kid DL from 11-3:30, and 1 kid homeschooling. So in the midst of facilitating DL, I was planning and implementing home school lessons. I was also supposed to be preparing meals, doing laundry, keeping the house cleaned up (mostly managing the kids cleaning up after themselves), reading aloud, overseeing asynchronous instruction (ahem, homework!), self-care, connecting with my husband, and And AND!
It was exhausting! Even though there were bright spots in the day (like when my 7 year old randomly asked me “what’s a bloody mary?” when she was unmuted), DL still sucked up all my energy, leaving me with little to nothing left to take care of meals, the house, or my relationships. A friend posted a meme about energy vampires and I thought that was the most accurate phrase I’d ever heard! DL has been the biggest energy vampire I’d ever encountered!