B-A teachers balance teaching classes, children remotely

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B-A teachers are dealing with the challenge of teaching their classes and their own children from home.

Maggie Erickson, Staff Writer

Teachers do a lot more than just teach. They encourage students, listen to and solve their problems, advise clubs, coach sports … the list could go on and on.

Some even have children of their own. In the wake of Covid-19, teacher parents are faced with a whole new struggle – remote learning.

Teacher parents are balancing being a parent and being a teacher from home, and it is no doubt a very long day.

Some teachers have children that are students as well, so this creates another complex situation in making sure their children are doing their work while also teaching classes themselves. 

One major challenge math teacher Mrs. Kristeen Riddle is facing is internet issues because of where she lives.

“Our satellite internet is very, very, very, slow,” said Mrs. Riddle. “We had bought an antenna booster to boost the ATT cellular signal at our house, but it has been acting up and not working the way it used to a few months ago when we first got it.”

Mrs. Riddle’s local fire department has been a great help during this time.

“My husband is the Treasurer for the fire department, so they graciously gave us the password for our family to use,” she said.  ‘It has been a lifesaver.  To give you an idea, what takes 4-5 hours to upload here at home takes 5 minutes to upload at the fire hall.  We just stay in our car and get our work done.” 

Another high school teacher familiar with the struggle to be a teacher parent during this time is Mr. Kerry Naylor.

Teaching three kids while managing his own classes is no easy task, but he is thankful for the extra time with his children.

“On the one hand, I wouldn’t give up this time with my kids for anything. Pandemic or not, I love being with them. On the other, taking on the role of teacher in subjects I am not an expert in is challenging,” he said.

This unprecedented time has also caused him to rethink how he teaches his high school students as well.

“It has helped me to rethink what I want to do with kids moving forward in a traditional classroom,” said Mr Naylor. “I think kids need tons of one-on-one, even in high school classrooms, and working with my kids has reinforced that. I also have started reflecting on what is essential for students to know and what is the best way to get that across. It’s a question we all ask ourselves constantly but it has become more pertinent now.”

This is a challenging time for everyone, and I thank God every day for giving me the patience to deal with such issues, especially when I get really frustrated that I cannot help in a better way.”

— Mrs. Riddle

Middle school teacher Mrs. Susan Nycum is also adjusting to this new way of teaching.

“As a teacher, you need to find work that the students would be able to understand on their own and not overly stress themselves or their parents,” said Mrs. Nycum. “More time has been put into the instruction and assignments via creating Google Slides and slides with audio along with researching videos from YouTube  and other sources that will fit the curriculum. That is time consuming due to having to watch all the videos.”

Attention and communication are crucial during this unprecedented time, and Bellwood-Antis teachers are doing their best to provide that to their students. 

“I have also used Microsoft Teams Video Conference/chat as a way to reach out to my students to answer any questions they might have,” Mrs. Nycum said. “It has been nice catching up with them.  A decent amount of time has also been spent on reaching out to students and parents with questions and concerns, from me and them.”

Teachers are also finding themselves dealing with technical issues coming from students and parents.

“The other challenge that I started facing this past week with mandatory learning taking place was trying to help troubleshoot all of the issues students were having from their homes and trying to access the material that I had assigned,” said Mrs. Riddle. “I have responded to countless emails all hours of the day and night to help in any way I can.  I have referred several kids to our tech department for troubleshooting, and I needed tech help a few times as well.  This is a challenging time for everyone, and I thank God every day for giving me the patience to deal with such issues, especially when I get really frustrated that I cannot help in a better way.”

One thing every teacher has in common is wanting to do what is best for their students, and even though that is a little tougher now, they aren’t backing down.

“I would say this is definitely a whole new learning experience for me to get it right for my students,” said Mrs. Riddle. “I want to make sure I am doing my best for my students in this situation, but I cannot say that it hasn’t been challenging and distracting.  Being a mom of two at home and trying to work is tough, especially with all of the behind the scenes hours we (all teachers) are putting into these lessons.”

There have been plenty of obstacles through the first couple weeks of distance learning at B-A, but Mrs. Nycum said by working together the district and community will get through this.

“What we are doing as teachers might not be what a parent wants; however, we need to look at the big picture and what is best for our students,” said Mrs. Nycum. “Some teachers reach out to over 120 kids. Therefore, we, as teachers, need to adjust what is being taught and create different work for different classes. Whether we like it or not we need to remember that we are all in this together.”