You guys, I am failing at helping my kids with remote learning. I just checked, and both my kids still have a grip of missing assignments… like 20. And I’m a flipping teacher!
The hybrid model for remote learning… that will be easier
Our Jr. High is doing a hybrid model. Students are divided up by last names. Half the school goes in-person Monday/Wednesday, and the other half is at school on Tuesday/Thursday. Students are in person for two days and home for three to keep numbers down at school. I thought this was a fantastic solution. It seemed much more manageable than what we had going on in March. They have one in-person class with each of their teachers. I changed my work schedule to be home with my kids on their remote learning days! We should all be doing great, right?!
I thought they had completed everything.
They thought they had completed everything.
Turns out that’s a big, fat, NOPE!
I’m trying not to be too frustrated with my kids and myself. The mistake was not intentional. They looked in the wrong place for their assignments. I’m not familiar with this platform, so I assumed they knew what they were doing. As soon as one of my sons realized his mistake, he was distraught, worked for hours, and got it all done that day. For the other one, it is like pulling teeth to get him to work anyway.
Homework has always been difficult, and it’s a challenge to get my son to realize that a 45-minute assignment for a remote day is a reasonable expectation. He freaks out about it for two hours before he can even begin. Multiply that by eight classes, and you have a recipe for disaster. Remote days are “rough.” That’s the word I will use because I can’t use the words that I really feel. I mean… I am a pastor’s wife!
I feel like a failure
I’m not gonna lie; this made me feel pretty defeated. I went through several emotions. Anger, frustration, and sadness were three of the biggest. Seeing my boys this overwhelmed was heartbreaking. I wanted to fix it, but it was completely out of my control. I hugged them and told them it would be okay. Even my oldest let me hug him, and that is a rare occurrence. “We’ll just focus on one thing at a time until we get caught up,” I said.
And then I sat on the bathroom floor and cried. (It was my bathroom, not theirs. Never sit on their bathroom floor. It’s gross.) Why am I so bad at this? I’m a flipping teacher!
In March, when everyone went to remote learning, I knew this was crisis schooling. I was working seventy plus hours a week, trying to teach my third-grade class. I converted my curriculum to digital. Recording video lessons and Zoom meetings with students became my new method of teaching. I was pretty impressed with what I was able to do, to be honest. The workload was not sustainable, but I knew it would end before June. My husband handled most of the school stuff with our kids, and he rocked it. It was difficult, but he spent long hours walking the boys through their assignments while also figuring out how to lead a church virtually. It was an insane amount of work, but it was only until June.
Now there is no end in sight
This year is different. Loren and I started the year already at our breaking point, and we can no longer see the finish line. With vacations canceled, we didn’t get a chance to decompress or a trip for which to look forward. My boys had to learn all the new expectations with eight new teachers. One day with each teacher is helpful, but I have a seventh-grader, and everything in Jr. High is new for him.
He is trying his best.
My older son is trying his best.
I’m trying my best, but this all just sucks!
We are all at our breaking point
I think the problem is that we pretty much ALL started this year at our breaking point. I work at a school where I witness teachers every day doing more than they ever thought possible. Most didn’t get a break over the summer as they learned new platforms and tried to prepare for this year’s changes. They are working longer hours, trying to keep up with all the new guidelines to keep everyone safe, and feel like the work is never-ending. They are teaching virtually and in person. It’s basically two jobs. Teaching has always been challenging, but this feels impossible. Tears, frustration, and overwhelm are at a whole new level. Even our newspaper is writing articles about how teachers in my state are crying and having panic attacks under the COVID-19 workload. Teachers are at their breaking point.
I, undoubtedly, started this year at my breaking point. Luckily for me, I switched to a less stressful job for the year, which enabled me to be with my kids more, but that doesn’t make this easy. In my new position, I have the privilege of talking with parents every day. Due to the pandemic, many parents have been working from home, are financially strained, and are experiencing new stresses in life. They desperately want to do what is best for their kids, and many think they are failing. I know I feel that way. Life right now is so stinking hard. Parents are at their breaking point.
Our children have had their world turned upside down. We are trying to give them as much “normal” as we can, but our world isn’t “normal” right now. Many of our children are confused and scared. Others don’t know what they are feeling, but they can sense that things are not okay. Some of these kiddos are experiencing anxiety and showing it in behaviors that haven’t been seen before. They don’t know how to process all of this. Our children are at their breaking point.
In my position, I also get to see what goes on behind the scenes. The administrators at my school are working late into the night. Lessening the burden teachers are feeling is a top priority. They are weeding through the ninety-page document of health guidelines to figure out how to keep students, teachers, and other staff safe without a budget to do so. Principals are doing everything in their power to help those teachers, students, staff, and families who are struggling. Every decision gets somebody upset. Many are spending their own money to get things accomplished, and they’re feeling overwhelmed. They may not be crying at school, but I’d bet they are weeping in their cars on the way home because they feel the need to be strong for the teachers and other staff. I know I would if I was in that position. Administrators are at their breaking point.
So, remote learning sucks! What now?
Now that we recognize that remote learning sucks, and we are all at our breaking point, let’s cut people some slack and start showing more grace. I don’t deserve the grace that God has given me. That is why it is so powerful. It is His kindness that leads to repentance. He loved me and forgave me while my heart was bitter. He saw my hurt and anger and selfishness and loved me anyway. That is what changed me. Kindness is what broke through that wall and helped me recognize that I was a punk. It also overwhelmed me that he would still love a big jerk like me!
Show some grace to others!
So now, every time we see a frustrated person, let us consider what might be going on in their life at the moment. Instead of adding to the problem, let’s show kindness… Maybe buy them a coffee or hot chocolate and share a kind word. Even if they don’t deserve it.
When we are getting screamed at by an irate person, let’s remember that we have a shorter fuse when our life is difficult. Show compassion (even when you feel like punching them… I get it, we’re all at our breaking point).
When we want to give someone a piece of our mind, let us not forget that we are all human, everyone makes mistakes, and we are all in this crazy time together. Yes, sometimes people are jerks. Nonetheless, let’s try our best to show those jerks some grace.
We are all doing our best to survive. Honestly speaking here, I’ll tell you. I’m sick of surviving! Surviving isn’t good enough; I want to make the world a better place. For this reason, there has to be something we can do to redeem this stupid year!
Start with the little things
Buy your kid’s teacher a gift card to Door Dash. While eating her delivery from Cafe Zao, she might think to herself, “Wow, this must be how rich people live.” (Yep, this happened to me. I was pretty spoiled by my students’ parents.) Alternatively, tell him or her that you appreciate all of their hard work. Yours might be the words that help them keep going.
Send a handwritten card to someone you haven’t seen in a while or someone you know is struggling. In general, this is becoming a lost art.
Smile at the office assistant and tell her to have a lovely day. Consequently, If you sing it to one of them, it will totally make her day (It’s me… I’m that office assistant)
Go for a walk, wave at your neighbors, bake something to share, put a giant garden gnome in your neighbor’s plants, doorbell ditch them with a silly decorated pumpkin, just do something.
I believe that there is some opportunity for good in all of this crap. Therefore, I’m determined to find it. Let us start by switching from the “breaking point” to the “point of grace” and show people some kindness… even when they don’t deserve it.
Let me know in the comments what you did to make someone’s 2020 a little bit better.