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A mom’s experience with remote learning

24 Oct 2020

A mom’s experience with remote learning

Below are notes from our interview with a parent. She is a stay at home mom with four children, and her youngest is attending online learning for the entire year. We asked her to share some of the pros and cons of her experience so far.

Parent: My daughter uses a platform called Seasaw for her classes. Every day I get a schedule for the next day. And when she has live sessions, and the teacher is right there in front of her, she tends to listen to instructions much better than when watching recordings. Also, when they have little breakout rooms, in the zoom meetings, working in small groups reading together, and especially when she gets to read to her friends, my daughter loves that; I feel they enjoy listening to each other.

Sometimes the teacher intentionally places my daughter in the breakout room with her friends; even when she lets them have a 5-minute conversation in chat groups, the day goes much better – for all of us.

But sometimes, she doesn’t get to voice her opinions; you cant always see everyone in the zoom meetings, and she gets frustrated if she doesn’t get called on when she raises her hand. I don’t think the teacher sees her. But some teachers call her out and or go around to most children, which is good.

During the morning greeting or what used to be the morning circle, no one scolded for being late, ever. she is always like – oh, thank you for joining. It’s always positive. Sometimes even my daughter runs a few minutes late, but the teacher is just so positive happy for them to be there. Another thing she likes during the morning meetings is when the teachers ask the children to share something. My daughter gets excited early in the day if she is participating. Even when it’s something silly like – what’s your favorite candy, or what’s the one thing you can’t live without?

Actually, when the teacher asked them that it was so funny, the children were all taking the question so seriously. Some said teddy, food, water, the kids were overthinking. One child said that he needed to think about it. It was funny to see the teacher struggle to explain what she meant, but it was cute how the children were so serious. But there are a lot of negatives too.

The children don’t know how to use the tools and the buttons in zoom. So my daughter feels frustrated, and of course, many times, I have to help her. At one point, I had someone helping my daughter in my home. An assistant teacher who would sit beside her and help her access the sessions and do the activities, but she got called into work. She said they needed her back in school. I tried to find another teacher, but I have had no luck since I guess there is a shortage of teachers out there. My daughter feels frustrated because she wants to participate in the sessions, but the teacher doesn’t see her raise her hand. I am incredibly frustrated because many times, I want to say something or send the teacher a message in the zoom chat, but I know I am not supposed to be in the meeting.

But it’s not always that bad. One teacher has all the children close their videos, except for one. that child says good morning and then chooses the next child who will follow them. One by one, they all get ‘highlighted’ on the screen. And a lot of the time, teachers play games on the screen, like Simon says. Most teachers try to make it fun for the first half-hour, which is great. Another big drawback is when there are technical difficulties, sound, wifi problems. One time, a child dropped his iPad, it broke, and he started crying. Also, the kids are now used to it; when the teacher’s wifi is not working, the kids are so understanding. They talk to each other.

I think that the group of kids matters a lot. All the children in my daughter’s class are so well-behaved. Only one child has some disability, I don’t know what it is, but sometimes he wrote some inappropriate words in the chat, like repeatedly writing the word ‘stupid’ or something like that. But the kids are so understanding. and the teacher quickly disabled the chat. One of the worst things is the recorded sessions. One of our teachers only sends us recorded videos, and my daughter hates those. And its the science teacher, so disappointing. Science could be so fun, so exciting, so participative. Especially now that the weather is still lovely, she could have incorporated many outdoor activities as well. I am disappointed with that. My daughter loves science so much. Watching a video and then reflecting is really boring for my child. When she sends in her reflection homework, no one ever comes back to her with any feedback. Individual feedback from the teacher to the child is so important. My daughter loves it when her teacher gives her ‘hearts’ or something for her work. I mean, the science teacher could have gotten together with the PE teacher and done something integrated together.

Scheduling and keeping time is so hard. The kids do not know when to log on for the live sessions. Sometimes, I don’t know when to log on for the live sessions.

Other parents must be so organized. No one is saying anything. Other children always show up on time, and they never have problems. They must have it all together. Every night, we get the schedule for the next day. Kids can’t manage independently.

Worst of all is math. By the time the kids get settled, they only have 5 minutes to explain the concept. Then the session is over. She is falling behind in math.

It seems to me that the school is taking a laid back approach – taking the back seat. Don’t worry about them doing the homework they said. Don’t stress – leave the stress for us – they say. Well, that’s not the case. This is a massive load on parents. I feel my daughter is not meeting the objectives.

You know, I didn’t have any support meetings for parents. There was one meeting with introductions with the principal. But we, parents, never got a chance to ask many questions. It is not like we want to complain, but it’s important to hear us out. And I know that we are all in this together; I don’t want to push, but how will we assess the kids. What is their level of achievement? Things like speed and accuracy of reading, their level of comprehension, these are things that will be very difficult for them to assess. I’m so tired. Log on to this, read these tens of emails, access this, use this password for that.

That said, these negatives don’t happen often. Mostly, these mishaps accumulate towards the end of the day. Most days, she is fine. We are lucky!
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