This is hard! How did you balance being a teacher and a parent or caregiver during distance learning?
As the 2020/2021 school year approaches, teachers have a lot of questions about what it will look like. When we ask this question, it seems like all we hear is “We don’t know yet.” Since governors, district leaders and administrators don’t know what schools will look like next year, teachers are struggling to figure out how to prepare. In this blog series, we are looking at 10 ways that we can prepare this summer without wasting our time. Each way will prove beneficial to you, whether your district ends up using distance learning, traditional classrooms, or a hybrid education approach. Included in each blog post in this series will be tech tool suggestions, free resources, and a giveaway entry form.
We have already talked about setting up your digital classroom, exploring technology tools, exploring both digital and paper formats for teaching resources, building up a communication system for parents, digging deep into your standards, making prerecorded teaching videos, having a classroom management strategy prepared and differentiating from a distance. Today we will discuss something else all teachers should do to prepare for next school year:
You can explore ways to find a balance between family and teaching responsibilities.
Something that I do not feel has been discussed enough is how many teachers are balancing our teaching responsibilities AND supporting our personal children as they learn to navigate distance learning. Personally, I have 3 sons at 3 different levels of education - elementary, middle and high school. We have homeschooled before, so I thought that distance learning would be a cinch for us. However, the reality was that the older 2 were having to balance 6 to 7 different classes, with varying levels of expectation and support. Additionally, they were missing their friends and they needed me to be there to support them in other ways. In fact, I'm certain they needed me much more than I was aware they did.
We do not know if distance learning is going to happen in the fall, and I am preparing for the classroom as if it could be either way. However, at home, I am preparing as though we will be distance learning. In my way of thinking, if we aren't distance learning in the fall, it will not hurt to have done some preparation. If we are doing distance learning, I won't have to think about it while I am prepping my classroom for distance learning.
How Am I Preparing to Balance Teaching and Parenting During Distance Learning
First, I bought each of my kiddos a desk. When we home schooled, we were living in an RV and we worked just about anywhere - on the floor, at a picnic table, in the car, etc. This worked for homeschooling because I was around and I knew exactly what they were working on (because I had assigned it). However, this DID NOT work for distance learning. They needed to be sitting at a desk for Google Meets and they focus better on their Chromebooks when they have a separate desk, away from each other.
Secondly, we upgraded our internet. We live on an off grid homestead (See my other blog - Our Desert Homestead), so we do not have broadband lines and were using hotspot data from our phones when we started distance learning. While we do not have the option to install broadband lines at this moment, we have upgraded to an unlimited data hotspot and we have gotten my youngest son a phone with unlimited data (like the rest of us already had) in order to make sure that we all have the data we need.
Additionally, we have agreed to create collaborative ToDo Lists in Google Keep. My husband and I each have access to the boys' ToDo Lists, so we know who has completed what and when. This keeps us all on the same page with expectations as well as completion rate.
Finally, we have set up an afternoon "check in" system where each child checks in with me on what they did that day. This includes me checking their Google Classroom for each class. We set this up the last week of school, during finals, which was not very helpful to last year. However, I hope this will set us up for success if we have to do distance learning in the fall. It reminds me and them that even though I trust them to do their work, I am going to be checking behind them each and every day.
Having these systems in place will be helpful for my family whether we are doing distance learning or brick and mortar schools in the fall. Hopefully it will also help my stress level regardless of what learning looks like.
Your family situation probably looks way different from my family situation. That doesn't mean you don't need to think about how you're going to find balance between family and work next school year. Many people suddenly will have new and different expectations in this "new normal" of the next school year. So what can you do to be more balance next year?
FREE Resources for Your Classroom
As you take some time to think about balance, here are some free resources which may help you out:
Homeschool Preschool Choice Cards - When I was homeschooling, I used these cards to have my son choose what he wanted to do that day. This is great for parents who are balancing teaching and homeschooling littles. You can keep those preschoolers busy and active while you complete work.
ACK Word Family Unit - Needing to work on teaching your personal child to read? Word families are a great way to build in basic phonics skills. This packet gives you multiple ways to work on the ACK word family.
June Digital Learning Resource Bundle Giveaway
Now time for our giveaway!!! With today's giveaway entry form, you will be entering to win my Time Machine Power Point Bundle. This bundle includes: 7 different Time Machine Power Points, each with information for different time periods throughout history. Enter to win this Time Machine Bundle, by completing the the June Giveaway Entry Form #9.
All winners will be chosen on July 1st. Winners will receive the bundle directly to the provided email. All those who enter will also receive my monthly Raki's Rad Resources News Releases.
Interested in more tips on how to prepare for the unpreparable 2020/2021 school year? Come back tomorrow for final tip!
Missed a day? This blog post contains the entire list of 10 Things You Can Do to Prepare for Next School year.
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