This past Spring, I was teaching my Grade 6 class online, while juggling my own three children, ages 14, 11 and 5, at home. We had 5 different schedules going on. My husband was working outside of the home most of the day.
For the most part, we managed. My 11 year old thrived online but had occasional tears when she needed to figure out new tech or was stuck. My 5 year old only attended 2 of 3 daily sessions. It was too much time online for her and she had trouble focusing by the end. My oldest is very independent and often helped her sisters when I was busy.
But, there are a few moments of chaos that still make me laugh or smile when I think of them.
I had to teach puberty online, so, I was in my 1970’s dark wood-panelled basement hiding and explaining something awkward and embarrassing. At the same time, my 5-year-old snuck down and played quietly beside me. My oldest daughters were making themselves lunch upstairs. As I was self-monitoring what I was explaining for a now 5-year-old audience, she trotted off to the washroom nearby. All was well for a few minutes. But soon the fire alarm went off at the top of the basement stairs and my daughters started fighting and yelling about whose turn it was to turn it off. Added to this, my 5-year-old daughter is now screaming: “Will someone wipe my bum?” over and over again at the top of her lungs. It was a moment of pure madness. And it still makes me laugh when I think about it.
My five year old quickly mastered the mute and turn on mic functions and camera on the iPad she used for her classes. The icons are the same on my computer. One day she asked me for a snack while my students were working independently. While I left to prepare that for her, she put on my glasses, turned on the mic and camera and pretended to be me! My students played along and certainly got a kick out of that.
My husband happened to be home one day when I was explaining heat and cooling during a science lesson on the properties of air. He took over and explained to the class that you are never adding cold. Before becoming a plumber, he worked in heating and cooling. He explained that our fridges and air-conditioners are actually only removing heat. He encouraged them to go outside and feel the heat coming out of their air units or behind their fridges. My students will never forget that. They told me so.
One morning, my 5-year-old slept in so I began my math lesson online. Just as I was getting to the fun part of the lesson… she wandered in asking me to make her breakfast. I say asking, but it was more like a demand and she was getting increasingly irritated. She is an excellent “self-advocate” begin the youngest of much older siblings. In fact, sometimes we feel like she rules us all. So, in a desperate move, I grabbed two red licorice strands from the closest cupboard and passed them to her, hoping to get 10 minutes of my “crucial” math lesson done. One of my students noticed and wrote in the chat: “Did Mme just give B red licorice for breakfast?”. Lots of non-math conversation ensued. I replied with “#momfail”. We laughed and moved on. Later that morning one of the students said: “Mme, I told my mom about your hashtag #momfail and she says hashtag #relatable”. I was grateful for so many understanding and patient students and parents.
I wasn’t a perfect parent or teacher when we were online, but you know what? I kept my sense of humour and did my best and you know what… it was good enough!
Do you have some funny memories or chaotic online moments to share? I would love to hear them in the comments below.