Ramblings of a Teacher/Parent on Homeschooling During a Pandemic and Other Concerns

Many of us are struggling to keep learning going at home while schools are closed. Being a History/ELA teacher, I have an advantage over many, but when it comes to Math I’m at a loss. Thank goodness I have a Math teacher to ask questions. My school district isn’t doing teacher led on-line learning, instead they have posted resources for students to do on their own. I understand the struggles of not every student having access to the internet or a device, but as a teacher I know few, if any, of my students are using the resources of the school district.

The parents I know who are trying to keep their children’s brains active with something other than video games, are finding random websites and resources that have nothing to do with state standards. I wish our school district would offer guidance to parents on what topics are studied in which grade. If you have a 7thgrader and you know they studied the Renaissance or you know they will study U.S. History in 8th grade, you can find fun things to do that will support their academic classes. To help guide my students and their parents, I have provided resources that have to do with the content we have or will study. Many teachers have done the same, but random resources aren’t the same as direct teacher instruction. 

I know parents are doing the best they can. During this time of uncertainty, I’m trying to prepare my children for what will come next in their education. For the last three years I have taught 6th grade Social Studies, 7thgrade Social Studies, and now 8th grade U.S. History. So, I am trying to connect what my children have already learned this year in 7th grade, to what they will need to know for 8th grade next year. Overall, homeschooling has been going well. There are days they aren’t happy with me because I’m challenging them to go deep with their thinking, but I know it is what they need. 

I worry about my own kids losing Math skills. While I’m doing what I can, it isn’t the same as them being able to talk with their Math teacher. While I can text a Math teacher to ask questions, many parents don’t have that luxury. I know parents who are forging ahead with homeschooling, and others who will toss in the towel instead of having arguments with their kids. Teaching is hard. Teaching your own kids can be harder. By now you have seen at least one of the many memes on Facebook, Twitter, or another sites, about how parents are now realizing how valuable teachers are and teaching isn’t as easy as they thought.

While I am enjoying the time to rest and recharge, I am worried about my students. Being a teacher is more than a sharing of knowledge on a certain subject, but it is also being a supportive and loving adult in many students’ lives. I have students who are living in single parent homes that are struggling to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. I have students who never hear they are loved except at school. I have students who struggle with following rules and being kind to others, because these skills aren’t modeled at home. I have students who are in abusive homes, foster care, have a parent in jail, live with grandparents because mom and dad are drug addicts, as well as other scenarios that will break your heart. Being a teacher is emotionally and physically draining. 

I am glad that our school district is providing student with the meals they would have normally received at school. My school is a distribution site for these meals. On Mondays, students receive 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches. On Wednesday, they receive 3 breakfasts and 3 lunches. This past Monday (4/6), my school served meals to 676 children. We are the busiest site in our county. I have had the privilege to volunteer, with my fellow teachers, a few days to hand out meals. We have no more than 10 people volunteering and we try to stay 6 feet apart. We use gloves and change them often. I get excited and my heart warms when I get to serve one of my students! One of the teachers made a sign of what our principal says every day to our kids, “Remember, we love ya!” 

Not the “Normal” Holy Week

This is Holy Week. A Holy Week during a pandemic. As I reflect upon what this week means to me, I keep thinking about how Jesus must have felt. He had been teaching about God’s Love, Mercy, and Grace, all while He knew what this week meant – betrayal, mocking, brutal beatings, and death. During one brief moment, Jesus asked His Father to “take this cup from me,” just a human would, but then responds, “Your will be done.” Christ knew what His death would mean. He willingly sacrificed Himself so we could be free from the sin of the world. 

We like to think the world has changed since Biblical times, but has it really? If you think about current events, we are seeing all of the things Jesus endured on an hourly basis. People are betraying others by only thinking of their needs and wants. People are mocking others for thinking of themselves, as well as for thinking of others. People are emotionally and physically struggling as they help the sick, and put others before themselves. And then there are those who are struggling emotionally with job loss and not being able to provide for their families. Some are choosing suicide over life. So many people are dying each minute from this terrible virus. Many are asking, “Where is God?”

When we see all of the people who aren’t infected, we see God. When we see all the people who are recovering from the virus, we see God. When we see all the people who are helping those who are struggling, we see God. God is all around us, if we just take the time to look for Him. Spring is a time of rebirth for the flowers, trees, and animals. Each day we can see God in the world He created. Holy Week can be a time for us to re-examine our lives and make changes. 

I can remember as a child being excited for the first blooms of my father’s gardens. One flower in particular was his Peace Rose. It would always start to bloom around Easter. On Easter Sunday, we would cut a flower from our yard for the flower cross the children would create at church that day. The cross sat in different places each year, sometimes in the narthex (entrance hall), sometimes in the sanctuary, but always in a place for everyone to see. The flowers were a representation of our renewed spirit in God. It also represented hope, love, compassion, and mercy. 

Jesus did so much during Holy Week, even knowing the outcome. There is so much we can do to prepare our hearts and minds, because we know the outcome. While many are complaining about being confined to their homes, there is so much we could be doing during this time. We can use this time to connect as a family, as a couple, and most importantly as a child of God. Use this time to start reading the Bible or diving deeper into the Bible. Don’t know where to start? My recommendation is to start with the book of Luke, who wrote to the Gentiles – those who weren’t raised in the Jewish faith. 

Holy Week is the perfect time to start or deepen your walk with Christ. 

Don’t have a Bible? Here is a link to a website.