Pandemic schooling, Part 2

Our district's much touted "Flexible instruction" means that everyone involved is supposed to be flexible. A few teachers are not flexible. The flexible instruction guidelines sent to us by the district included comments that they realized some children would have to share devices, not be able to get in at particular times due to parents working from home needing family devices, ... They were just to get the work done when they could, to the best of their ability.

In reading emails sent to my daughter (age 9), I found my child chastised for not attending meet ups that conflicted with others. We've got multiple devices, so devices aren't a problem. The problem is conflicting meet ups, and which to attend. Math takes priority over PE. OT, speech, and counseling take priority over art, library, and tech. The scheduling right now seems to have no rhyme or reason, partially because the school day is shorter and chopped in to two not quite two hour long blocks. Reality is that some kids may not have access to a device until later in the day after their siblings have used it, and chastising them by email doesn't help. It hurts the relationship with your students when you send an email to the entire class calling out a handful for not attending the meet up you called with 10 minutes notice.

"Reach out to us, we're always happy to answer your questions," they say. There was an email chastising my child and some classmates (sent to the entire class), with the opening paragraph in all caps, for not having turned something in. She was confused, and explained she'd tried to turn it in but could not find the tab. I read the email, and tried to help her find it. It wasn't there. Maybe we were on the wrong website? Platform? Was this the right one? I reached out to the teacher to ask about how to turn the assignment in, as I'd gone to where the children were instructed to with my daughter, and there was no tab there with the heading mentioned.   I got a curt email back that started with the first sentence in all caps.  The teacher no longer wanted this homework in one format, but in another, and that form will not be available until next week. The teacher said the kids had been told in a meet up when the form would be available. That would be the meet up my daughter missed due to being on another meet up with her homeroom teacher for additional instruction on a topic she was having trouble with. That's the same meet up that she got an email about telling her off about, noted above. Please, if the form isn't available, what's the point of yelling in an email at kids about it being overdue? You're not accepting format A, now it is supposed to be submitted in format B, but format B won't be available until Tuesday. You've just caused further damage to your teacher-student relationship with my child and four others.

It's hard enough to juggle regular and "specials" (PE, Art, Computer, Spanish, Library, Choir, Music). We also have therapy to keep track of. Now we have two teachers who have scheduled meetings with my child at the same time. One is a specialist and one is a "specials" teacher. I'm sorry, but OT takes priority over PE. You want to be mad that she missed the PE meet up? Be mad at me. I told her OT takes priority, so go to that meet up, as I was trying to juggle a telephone call for work with helping her with her work.

We have IEP meetings that we have to attend, where we try to sort out what is happening with our children's schooling for next year. In the background at my house, the team participants will likely see my child, in a Meet Up, with her hands over her ears and her eyes screwed shut, because the teacher doesn't understand there is a mute button, and they are shouting over 24 kids who are competing for their attention.

My child is in full retreat from group meet ups. They are loud, disorganized, and often a complete waste of time. Think of them as those meetings that could have been handled by a single short email. One or two teachers have sent out instructions saying that the meet up is at X time, and they are to tune in and immediately hit their mute button. The mute button is to remain on unless called on. If called on, unmute, answer, and turn the mute back on. I like those teachers, and my child is less reluctant to join their meets, but is still reluctant in general because she goes in to sensory overload. That's why the hands are over her ears and her eyes shut.

I know we're all in this boat together. Many of us are paddling, but a few of you seem to be spending more time hitting others over the head with your oars than you do paddling. Please, be more understanding. Parents may be outside the boat, treading water, and sometimes going under.


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