The reality of school at home

Published: Apr. 24, 2020 at 9:28 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Many families around are almost two official weeks into “school at home” or what some districts are calling blended learning.

You’ve all had to wrap your heads around lessons online or going back to just paper and pencil, all while trying to work yourself.

Kitchen tables converted to classrooms.

“I’m having to teach myself or YouTube it or whatever, in learning how to help them,” said Tracy Abney a Madison City Schools mother of four.

“Mom, you know how to do math. Yes, honey, I know how to do math but I don’t know how to do your way of math,” said Decatur City Schools mother of three Karrie-Sue Simmers.

Parents, just like you, relearning subjects in order to teach them.

For Abney, with students from second grade to ninth grade, this new normal only re-enforces what she already knew about herself.

“My original degree is actually in elementary education., I just feel like there is a reason why I’m not an educator,” added Abney.

She’s even learning more about her children.

“One thing her teacher was really good at doing is keeping her on task and motivated. She’s a great student but it’s hard for me as her mom to have that same kind of influence that her teacher has,” explained Abney.

It’s a different challenge in the Simmers household.

Karrie-Sue Simmers is a single mother who normally worked from home way before COVID-19.

She has a pre-K, first- and third-grader who all have special needs.

“Having kids that need occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and having to do that all via video when their attention spans are not long enough to hold for those has just made it really rough,” said Simmers.

All things they would typically receive at school within the Decatur city school system.

“For kids with special needs, this time home is extremely detrimental. Speech is just too complicated for video,” she explained.

This has only renewed both mothers’ respect for teachers like Hazel Green Elementary third-grade teacher Amanda Salazar.

“It’s two fold, it’s uncharted, it’s hard, but it’s that blessing in disguise where I’m going to be able to make myself, my students, my school, and our school system better because of things that our educators are having to learn how to do,” said Salazar.

By the way, the hours haven’t changed.

“I’m probably putting in a good, usual 50 to 60 hours like I almost do during the regular school week, we as educators 40 hours just means nothing to us,” said Salazar.

She’s doing it all from home too.

The daily online lessons, read-alongs, virtual field trips...and then comes the lessons for their parents.

“I’ve been going anywhere from 8:30 in the morning with phone calls and I’ve had text messages at 10:30 at night, a few nights,” explained Salazar.

Salazar said it’s her job to be available, to keep driving this “school bus” moving forward, even when traditional school may be far into the future.

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