April 10th, 2020

Pandemic schooling, part 1

Those of you who know me know that we are a two IEP family.  My kids are great, and are doing very well. My older one is now in high school, and younger one is in the final year of her "lower elementary" school.

Mid-March, schools physically closed and e-schooling began the following Monday. The district stressed that this would be flexible instruction. They preferred kids be logged on for a particular time, but if they couldn't, ok. They understood that there might be issues with internet connectivity. The district has stressed that they understand everyone is on edge.

I work part-time, my husband works full time. Our older child has been extremely independent, and often holds questions and requests for help for later in the day, when we have a little more time. Our younger one has been doing her best. Things came to a head this past week.

I received a couple of emails from teachers telling me my child wasn't doing her work.  As I went through the 300+ emails in my 9 year old's in box, I realized she was getting 15-20 emails per day. No wonder she was overwhelmed and confused. I realized that many of them are repeats of assignments in Google Classroom. I went in to Google Classroom and turned off the send notifications feature. I removed all emails that had dates prior to April 1st. I removed all invitations to meet ups.

I've sat down with my child today to try to help her (on my furlough day). A couple of things jump out. There is no consistent platform being used. Some assignments are coming on Class Dojo, others by Google Classroom, and some by email. If adults have difficulty sorting all this out, you can bet that elementary school students are having a rough time juggling three platforms, and multiple websites. Also, Google Classroom has "stream" and "assignments", but some of the assignments are in the "stream" and some are on the assignments tab. Consistency would greatly help the children (and parents) know what is expected.

I also noticed that although our kids are supposed to have a schedule of 10-11:50 and 1-2:50, with lunch/recess in between those two blocks, that some teachers are scheduling meet ups during lunch time. Some teachers call meet ups with little notice (10 minutes), without recognizing that a child may not see their notice because they are on another meet up with another teacher. Sometimes my child is confused as to what to do when two teachers call a meet up at the same time for different subjects. Academics takes priority over "specials" like art, PE, library. IEP requirements, like speech, counseling, and OT take priority, too.

I understand that it's tough to teach from home. Please understand that parents and kids are doing their best, too, and having a tough time of it.


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.

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