This past week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and we are rounding the corner toward Mother’s Day. The efforts of people in both roles can sometimes be forgotten until the annual celebration comes around.
But this year things feel a little different. This year the virus has pushed them to the forefront of our everyday conversation.
With at-home crisis schooling being the new normal, parents everywhere are bowing down to the teachers that have had their kids all year. Moms are still the center of the home universe—but have now added teacher/facilitator to their juggling act.
While some colleagues without children are quick to seize their newfound time for work projects, I’ve found most are also reverent regarding the role of mother during this crisis. Colleagues, for example, have been more accepting of my children popping into Zoom meetings—a staple in my new normal as an education researcher.
My current research project aims to identify attitudes and actions of adults educating youth during the pandemic. My surveys for teachers, parents and resource providers has given me a window into the homes and lives of teachers and mothers—over 95 percent of my respondents—across the United States.
As I have watched the initial responses come in, more than ever, I’m impressed with how much moms manage to squeeze into a day. I’m also concerned with the amount society asks of us.
In honor of all those we are celebrating this week, I wanted to share some preliminary findings. Though the survey results are still coming in, one thing is clear already: Online learning is affecting families and teachers. And while we struggle through what crisis schooling looks like, it’s important to celebrate the mom and teacher victories.
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How Is Online Learning Affecting Families and Teachers?
Most schools are opting for online meetings as part of their crisis schooling curriculum and 87 percent of teachers are learning how to teach online while teaching during this crisis.
Over 90 percent of teachers acknowledge there are access or equity issues among their students and are working to overcome them. Teachers are more concerned with their students’ mental health and welfare over their academic progress. Online meetings are a way to check in.
However, getting kids into synchronous class meetings is more complex than it looks. Over 20 percent of families identify technology or internet access as a problem hindering their child from completing assignments.
Work needs are affecting 56 percent of families trying to help their child, either due to shared computers or lack of availability. Others discuss financial stress, emotional trauma and food insecurity as more pressing issues; and these responses aren’t coming from just those families who were on teachers’ radars before the pandemic.
So, teachers, you are amazing. Thank you for taking the time to build a trauma-informed lesson on fractions that involves baking and offering a time to share results via a zoom party (or whatever similarly awesome lesson you worked on this week). Please remember the child that doesn’t show up may not have a say in the matter—and, trust me, that mom recognizes the work you put into preparing that lesson and likely feels guilty about her kid’s absence.
To the moms of those students not in class, you are amazing. Thank you for prioritizing your family’s emotional, physical, and financial needs above the pressure to appear like we have it all together. Please continue to hog the computer to keep your job or take an afternoon to go to the grocery store or food pantry—even if it means your child misses a class meeting. Your child will be fine because you’re trying and they can see you’re giving it your all.
To the moms of the students that made it to class today, you are amazing. Thank you for prioritizing providing an opportunity for your child to connect with their teacher and classmates. Please know that if you can’t do it everyday, you aren’t alone. There may be days that it can’t all come together like it did today, and that’s okay. Your child will be fine because you’re trying; they can see you’re giving it your all.
To all the women reading this article, I challenge you to celebrate your victories this week. What is something you did for you, not because our society pressured you to? Did you steal a moment to watch a show or read a chapter and save your sanity? Congratulations, you, too, are awesome!
Finally, Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the educators out there. With everything going on right now, I can tell you that, as a parent, I have never appreciated you more.
And to all my fellow parents who have taken up the torch of crisis schooling from home over the past months, your efforts to continue educating your child(ren) get to be appreciated this week, too!
If you would like to participate in this research as a parent, teacher, or resource provider, I’d love to get your perspective. Make your way to my website and choose your survey from there.