Our first week of online schooling is done! It’s Friday, and I am sitting in bed letting the experience all sink in.
This is the first time that I have been so intimately involved in the goings-on of the classroom. And I do not recommend it. At all.
When I pictured the week, I didn’t have lofty expectations, but I did imagine my children signing on from class to class and working through the day while I sipped my coffee and got some work done. This was true of my older kids, and mostly for my 5th grader, he didn’t need me much. But for my 3rd grader, I had a rude awakening.
My imaginings were naive because there were a few things I didn’t know or realize. For example:
I did not realize that all 23 children and their mothers and their teachers would be in my house as well. They would see the parts of my house visible on the screen, hear the noises floating into the mic from the surroundings and whoever accidentally strolls past.
I did not realize that I would hear and see all of the students and every movement, pulled tongue, rogue chat conversations, meltdowns and misbehaviours. And the other mothers would see my sons.
I did not realize that I would have to double-check that the lesson was in fact over when my son said it was and he didn’t just leave because the teacher is “doing 1st-grade math and I’m bored”.
I did not realize that some of the teachers would be Zoom illiterate and wouldn’t know where the chat is let alone how to disable it (while I had a mini panic attack at the incredibly rude thing one of the kids just said). Then, I realized that every mother saw what this child said, including his mother, live, as it happened. And I felt for her.
Because I know for sure that at some point my son will do something the other mothers will see and they too will have side conversations outside of the main WhatsApp group about him. Maybe even screenshot for posterity.
I did not realize how competitive a few of the mothers would be, to the point that they would sit beside their children and give them the answers. Altho I haven’t done that, I did find myself internally wincing when they gave a wrong answer to a quesrion I knew they should have known. So yeah, I get it.
One day of this, last Sunday, and I was done. Watching the computer screen and my phone screen and listening to the teacher in case I missed something and reading what the mothers are saying in the group and everyone having an opinion. Done, done, done!
Monday the boys wore headsets, and the screens were away from me, and I was blissfully unaware of what happened in the classes. As I should be! As I always was!
Am I panicking that he’s not listening and understanding? A little, because then it will fall to me to teach him. But isn’t this me already passing judgement on all the teachers and the new way of teaching in the first week? And if I do not let him take responsibility for his learning, then I will always be reteaching him what he was taught at school, and I will never know if this could work for him.
Yes, other mothers are still watching, but they’re dropping one by one. Some have gone back to work. Some got tired of it as I have. And I imagine there will be some who continue as is and that’s fine. I know as well that in the next 7 weeks all of these people will have a lot more access to the inside of my home than I am comfortable with, but we’re all in the same boat, so it evens out.
We will all be equally exposed. Be it a mother telling her son off for not sitting still, an accidental glimpse of someone in a pyjama, a child giving the other children a tour of the house, or many other anxiety-causing things that could possibly go wrong.
At least with the headphones and without me watching the screen, I do not have a first-row seat to this show.
My God, I wonder how the teachers are doing… Having the 23 mothers and possibly 46 parents watching them teach!
So mothers, detach for your own sanity!
Move away from the screen, plug the headsets in and do not repeat 3rd grade again. Have a coffee, mute the group if it’s causing you anxiety and wait and see if this works out!
One thing is for sure, the classroom management of the teachers is clear on this platform. I thought all the classes would be chaotic, but clearly, some teachers have full control over their little army of screens.
How has your experience been? Are you glued to the screen or able to detach?