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by Amanda Cassidy
22nd Jan 2021
‘Sitting next to my child at the kitchen table, I appreciate teachers more than ever’

Remote learning is a different experience for everyone. But the overriding common factor during lockdown has been the dedication our teachers have shown.


Let’s be honest, so-called homeschooling during lockdown 101 was overwhelming challenging. And while this time around we don’t have the same shock-factor, schools are (mostly) better prepared and children are (mostly) more used to it, things are far from easy.

Of course, we can’t presume that there is an equal amount of engagement from students and by teachers. Every school and every class will have a different experience of such education but we spoke to our panel of parents to gauge their feedback on how their children are coping with remote learning this year so far. The overwhelming response was mainly gratitude for all the teaching staff for their patience and support.

“My son is dyslectic so we have organised zoom calls with his support teacher and he looks forward to it each day” explains Laura from North Dublin. “She is constantly checking in with him on the learning platform SeeSaw and it feels like they are so mindful of him not falling behind that they are going above and beyond.”

Tough

“Seeing how my son’s teacher is with him while I sit near him at the kitchen table, I appreciate more than ever how wonderful and patient they are;” says Beth, a mum of one from Cork. “He is one in a class of 30 and yet the teacher listens to all his questions and seems to understand every child’s individual needs. Hats off to them.”

But things got off to a bumpy start with some schools receiving many (some quite aggressive) messages from parents keen to ensure their child would receive as good a standard of remote learning as possible.

“When we first heard the school was closing we were dreading it. In fact, some of the parents on WhatsApp were really frustrated that there was only going to be a 15-minute check-in with the teacher once a week and the rest on SeeSaw” says Elaine, who has two children in National school in Leixlip, “but actually seeing it in action it is making a difficult situation better. We are all adjusting”.

“Our son gets an email with work once a week and no interaction with his teachers” Lynne tells us. Her son is in sixth class in Swords, Co Dublin and she says every day is an exhausting juggle. “We both work full time and we are finding it all horrendous. Without his friends and teacher, he is just not motivated.”

Ciara from Meath responded similarly; “My daughter has ADHD and autism and even trying to get her to sit down on the office chair for her check-in with her teacher is a nightmare. Meanwhile, I’m trying to make work calls and there is no end in sight. I can see her slipping through the gaps. I know everyone is doing their best but we are finding things very bleak.”

Adapt

For the majority of cases, parents are grateful for the quick adaption of schools to support their children. We have all had to bend over backwards to ensure work, children, education remains balanced as we wade through the depths of the pandemic. But overall, the consensus is that teaching staff are doing their best.

My own children’s principal has children of his own and is very mindful that we are all being asked to do something extremely hard – parent and teach at home, as well as trying to fit in work, caring for others, and keeping the show going against the backdrop of the anxiety that comes with high rates of the disease. That understanding is appreciated.

Checking my children’s uploaded schoolwork, I’m always taken aback by how positive, kind, and encouraging the teachers are. The joy of an “AMAZING WORK” sticker or smiley face cannot be underestimated. A voice response is the pinnacle for my 6, 8, and 10-year-olds.

Sometimes I feel as if those gold stars are for the parents too. But we should probably really present the teachers and SNAs of Ireland with solid gold medals of their own.

Hang in there everyone. Sincere thank you to the teachers, principals, SNAs as well as everyone doing their best to keep our kids connected to education.

Image via Unsplash.com 

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