Home-Based Learning Takes Toll On Teachers With Young Children

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Caroline Alexis with her two kids on connect for a class Zoom meeting.  (Courtesy)
Caroline Alexis with her two kids on connect for a class Zoom meeting. (Courtesy)

With schools closed, many teachers who have young children say it’s a daily struggle to find balance between the needs of their classroom and the needs of their own children.

"I work from 4 to 6 a.m. trying to make sure that my Google classroom assignments are prepared, that I've graded work, that I have everything prepared for my students," said Caroline Alexis, a 5th grade special education teacher at the Condon Elementary School in South Boston.

When it comes to class and staff meetings, Alexis and her husband try to stagger their Zoom calls so that one of them is free to watch their kids, who are 2 and 4 years old. But sometimes, they get double booked and Sesame Street isn’t always enough to keep the kids quietly entertained. Recently, her kids started fighting mid-episode and her son took a tumble off the couch.

"All of a sudden I heard a bang and a cry," Alexis said. "So I ran from my computer and his lip was bleeding. The reality is, it's because one of us couldn't monitor or at least have our eyes on them right then."

Trying to keep up this pace has been exhausting for Alexis and many others.

Kyle Gichuru, a math teacher at the Tobin Elementary School in Roxbury, said it can be hard to keep a positive attitude when she sees regular reminders that her lessons aren't reaching all of her students and some just aren't logging into class.

"It makes it that much harder to sustain doing full throttle day after day," she said.

The pressure of it all is starting to take a toll.

"I have days that I sit down and cry because I feel like I was a crappy teacher," she said. "And even more so, I feel like I was a crappy mom during the day. That happens frequently."

Stories like these are common among Boston teachers, which is why the Boston Teachers Union recently created a support group.

"To provide a space for teachers to share their challenges and to receive some strategies, ideas, feedback and support from colleagues who are in the very same position," said Caitlin Gaffney, a member of the union's executive board.

With the help of some of the district's school psychologists and other educators, the group kicked off their first meeting on Tuesday.

Even with the extra support, some teachers said they're also frustrated by the fact that they don’t know how long these working conditions will last. But those answers are likely a few months out.

State education leaders have formed a working group to develop basic guidelines for how schools should approach reopening in the fall. Those recommendations could come by the end of next month. That leaves districts about two months to figure out the details like how and when teachers and their kids can return to their classrooms.

This segment aired on May 28, 2020.


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Carrie Jung Senior Reporter, Education
Carrie is a senior education reporter.



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