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Challenge: Reflecting on a Year of Pandemic Parenting

My child’s teacher is the silver lining of virtual learning

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Navigating the day to day of schooling at home has been a challenge for so many of us, and there almost seems to be a never- ending list of parenting lessons entangled in this new way of learning.

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For starters, after many failed attempts to “help”, I had to learn that my job is not to interfere or try to make my daughter’s school work easier. My role is to help with computer issues, after-school work, make sure she submits assignments properly, and (most importantly) notify the teacher if more help is needed.

I have also learned that my attitude towards virtual school matters significantly, and that the more negative I am, the more likely my kids will struggle. So regardless if I am feeling sad or frustrated, they need to know that I am committed to helping them through this alternative way of learning.

Now I know that I am one of the lucky parents because I have a job where I am able to work from home. So I can listen in on her classes, help her with asynchronous work, and monitor her progress.

And thankfully after weeks and months of doing this everyday, we have fell into a bit of a routine with my daily involvement definitely dwindling a bit.

Then one day recently I overheard her teacher ask for volunteers to write & spell some “super duper” hard words. Surprisingly my daughter’s arm shot straight into the air like a rocket. Her teacher must have noticed as quickly as I did, and she asked her to spell the word LAUGH.

I held my breath.

Just 6 months ago, writing and spelling the word CAT would sometimes trip her up. And to add to it, just the year before her teacher had told us that she rarely raised her hand in class because she seemed to fear giving the wrong answer.

So at a speed that felt like slow motion, she wrote down the word and lifted her paper to the screen...and in perfectly printed letters she had written l-a-u-g-h. Then to add to it, her teacher asked her to read a sentence, and without hesitation, she read it loudly to the class.

It was moment that filled me with pride. I was proud that she was excelling during a time where adults were having a tough time dealing with the changes. I was proud of her brain and its capacity to absorb and learn through a computer screen, and I was over-the-moon proud for the confidence she was building virtually.

And lastly, I felt tremendous pride for the teacher who had gotten her there.

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Now I will mention that we did hit the "teacher jackpot". Before this school year started, we had heard so many good things about her teaching style and abilities in the classroom.

However it was hard to ignore that we weren’t getting the classroom version, we were getting the virtual one. So you can’t help but question if their skills will transfer to this new platform.

Because I know what the reality is for teachers right now, and that a lot has been thrown at them this past year. I understand that her teacher has had to learn new software and new teaching techniques. She has had to figure out how to engage with children that are easily distracted in their homes. She has had to manage personalities and potential learning disabilities without ever meeting her students in person, while simultaneously battling through technical difficulties.

Yet my daughter’s teacher has worked through it all, and does her best everyday to bring the classroom teacher to the computer.

And for us, and especially for my daughter, she is all we hoped for and more. She is teaching my daughter almost everything she would learn in the classroom. She is bringing her own twist and finding ways for them to socialize, play games together and form relationships. She isn’t just teaching math and science, she is teaching my daughter how to learn in a new environment, and that to me is worth its weight in gold.

We all want our kids to be back safely in school – I know I do. But for now I need see the silver lining in all of this, and for me, it’s her teacher.

We know it’s not over, and we know there could be more challenges to come. Yet I will sleep better each night knowing that my daughter is going to wake up and learn safely at home from one of the best – and for that, I will be forever thankful.

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