Note: This blog post is raw, sarcastic, and a bit blunt. 🙂
I am a 4th grader ELA teacher. I am a mom to a 3rd grader and Pre-K child. I run a small business from home. I am a wife. I wear many hats and in no particular order. COVID-19 has made me wear all of those hats at once! It has also added on the hat of home-school teacher.
I love my life. Truly. But I am going to be really blunt for a moment. I am tired of reading all of the blog posts about “how to be productive during quarantine” or “make the most of your time at home with these 5 tips.” I saw one today–5 RULES you MUST follow as a Work at Home Teacher. 1. stop yelling in all caps. 2. Who made this person the expert? I am not trying to be a negative Nancy but all of these posts seem to be geared toward people that have ONE hat…or maybe TWO. I am not here to play the victim but I AM here to be honest about balancing allllll of the hats.
Honestly, I had GREAT intentions when this started. I was printing and cutting and doing all of the wonderful things. Then, reality kicked in. I have to run my own Google Classrooms. My son has to do work his teachers actually assigned–not just fun things I printed off. AND teaching a 5 year old and an (almost) 9 year old at the same time is HARD. Different levels, different needs, different attention spans. So here is what homeschooling looks like for us.
Rex: 1.5 hours of academic work (9:30-11:00) These are things his teachers assigned and a few things I might have found/created also. I have to help him with these things because they are new concepts. Usually his teachers have assigned a YouTube video or something too–that helps.
Olivia: 45 minutes (maybe) of Pre-K work. I get most of my stuff from The Stay at Home Teacher. She has INCREDIBLE items. We work on cutting, sight words, tracing letters and numbers, and number recognition. Also, a lot of color by numbers. lol.
A few other things we do is the Homer App for Olivia and Splash Math for Rex. These are apps on their iPad that they can work on while I do laundry, clean, etc.
Rex’s teacher also has an Epic account for them (it is free for 30 days for parents and until June 30th for teachers.) We really love it. It has ways to level up which really motivates Rex. It has over 40,000 digital books.
Then, we also do board games, and pull out old toys they haven’t played with in a while. We spend a while outside each day too.
The bottom line with this whole homeschooling/parenting thing is…there will be meltdowns, days I don’t feel like doing ANYTHING I mentioned above. Days where we watch too much Trolls and Frozen or Ryan’s Toy Review. I am okay with that. I may be shamed for it…but I am okay with that too. The thing is, life has to go on during all of this. My kids are so important to me–but pretending like all of this is easy and perfect is just not true. I do the best I can each day–and some days are better than others. Don’t buy into the posts you see where they have the perfect home-school set up, and schedule 4-6 hours of learning a day. Nope. It isn’t happening…I promise. If it is, good for them.
Teaching Your Students Too
Oh, yeah…we have to actually still teach our students. Yikes. I don’t mean that in a negative way–but our job didn’t stop because of this. My philosophy on this is LESS IS MORE. The less you assign…the more your students will gain from it and be willing to do it. I assign one reading, one writing, and one social studies (and it may even be integrated with one of the other assignments) a week. For example…I assigned this research activity this week. It covered a lot of our standards and the kids loved it. You can grab it too for free. Just click the link. 🙂
It was a great activity for our students. Along with that we assigned some vocabulary practice and a reading choice board. That’s it! I have seen some teachers assigning 4 assignments a day per subject per week. It is overload. Less is more in my opinion. At first I was assigning a lot but I couldn’t manage it and the other parts of my life. Parents were also complaining. So I simplified. It is okay to simplify and not make things hard on you or other people involved. I take ONE HOUR a day to be available for my students. I respond to comments in Google Classroom, messages in Class Dojo. I set a timer though. That hour is all I can manage. That does not mean I am only working an hour a day. It means I am planning for next week, grading assignments, providing feedback, entering grades, having Zoom meetings with my team, etc. I couldn’t manage the constant notifications on my phone from students and parents. Shut that off. Check it once a day. It will be okay.
Side Hustle, Chores, Whatever
Maybe you don’t do TpT or another side hustle…but we all have things we want/need to do. I am the WORST at making time for those. It looks like complete chaos at my house most of the time because I start something then move on to something else. It is something I am still working on…but I am trying to set aside time for that. This is where the preachy blogs get on my nerves. For example, I decided I would work from 7:00-8:00 tonight on this blog post. My daughter had a major meltdown and that didn’t happen. So it is almost midnight and here I am. Life happens. Give yourself grace and do what you can. And when all else fails…each chocolate.
I bet you think I am going to tell you to enjoy the time with your family. This is precious time you will never get back. I do know that is true…but come on…I am quarantined with them…we are spending every second together. Instead, I will say this…I try to enjoy the time I am with them. Even when my fuse is short…I try to remember that they may not like me too much right now either. lol. This isn’t easy on anyone, so you just have to make it work for now. We have fun, sure! I love my family. But it is OKAY to be frustrated and need some time ALONE! I guess I am just tired of the mom guilt when I read these posts about “you will never get this time back.” That is true about every. dang. day. Always has been true. So sure, make the most of it but that goes for YOU too. Take some time for you. Actually, steal some time for you. I steal it by taking a drive, going to sonic to get a drink, or just hanging in my locked bathroom straightening my hair (for no reason.) Ehhh, the quarantined life.
This isn’t easy. Wearing all of the hats is hard. Not just for me…for everyone. We all have our struggles and they may look different. In the end though, we don’t need to make rules to “get up and get ready everyday,” “limit screen time to one hour,” “don’t sleep in.” For me, when I do that, I am setting myself up to feel like I have failed. So take it a day at a time, have a gentle plan of what you might want to accomplish, then let life happen. It is going to happen anyway, so might as well allow time for chaos to strike…then you will just be proud you did your job, loved your family (even if you yelled at them), and you are all healthy for another day.