Chicago Public Schools wants remote instruction to look like, and sound like, in-person instruction. Our members, however, feel that there should be innovation specific to remote learning that works for the needs of all educators and families.
Between now and the start of classes, we will be sharing testimonials from CPS parent-educators on what they see as best practices for remote learning, and how our district needs to adapt accordingly to properly serve all school communities.
Lauren Kullman and her husband Sean are both CPS teachers. They have a son starting kindergarten in CPS in September, and a two-year-old daughter. Here, Lauren stresses the importance of being treated as a professional by the district, and to have her family’s work valued.
All CPS families need understanding and grace—not unrealistic expectations in the midst of a pandemic.
My husband and I both teach in CPS. Our son was in Pre-K at my school last school year but will be going to a new kindergarten in September. My two-year-old is putting a blanket over her head and yelling “Find me!” as I write this.
I am immune-compromised with a disorder called myelofibrosis. My husband works at a school whose population is young adults with cognitive disabilities, and often times multiple disabilities. My school is in the Gage Park community, a population that has been hit extremely hard by COVID-19, and often has little access to resources or are afraid to use them during this day and age.
To say that navigating this landscape as a teacher and parent is daunting is an understatement. We cannot be held to the ideal that we can just go about business as usual and expect remote learning to be “school at home.”
There is no “business as usual.” And we should be respecting that.
Our biggest challenges in the spring involved time management and having too many moving pieces and unpredictable day-to-day occurrences to be “live” for hours at a time. We also can’t both be live and have our child live and keep the two year-old safe, occupied and not screaming in the background of our live meets all at the same time.
We need flexibility to get our students their lessons and have their individual needs met, and can’t just work regular “clock hours” to get that done. I am a salaried employee and should be treated as such. Punching in and out never made sense and it makes less sense now. I was (and likely will continue to have to) work in the wee hours of the morning to make content for my students. Those who attended meets received engaging lessons which largely focused on the social-emotional component of their learning. I had both synchronous and asynchronous work so that grace was afforded to my students.
There still needs to be grace and understanding when recognizing the limitations of a purely remote teaching or learning environment. We need to be treated as a professionals and trusted to give our students quality instruction, but it shouldn’t need to be delivered live in a meet structure to be effective.
My family is anticipating completely different schedules and even different lunch times. We have talked about making lunches that our five year-old can get out of the refrigerator and help serve his two-year-old sister if we don’t have lunch at the same time. That feels unacceptable and downright dangerous. My kindergartener still will need a great deal of guidance to navigate his remote learning experience, and my husband and I can’t provide it if we are tied to our screens for a six-hour day. We need to meet our families (which we are one of) where they are, just as we should with our students.
One size does not fit all for remote learning. We are a two parent/income household, and we have trouble getting quality WiFi. Families with multiple students across grades in one household will suffer even more if they all need to be live for much of the day. How can we be held to a standard that our infrastructure simply doesn’t support?
What I need is understanding and grace.
I need to be treated as a professional and have my job valued.
I need support in how to use some of the tools we are being asked to become content creators of, as both a teacher and a parent.
I need everyone to be patient and recognize that one year of imperfection will not devastate us, but the loss of lives will.
I need assurances that my family will be able to stay safe as this virus rages on until we have daily rapid testing or a vaccine. In the meantime, let me deliver SEL based instruction so we can all truly take care of and support each other.
And I need everyone to just wear a mask.