MILWAUKEE — Being a teacher or a parent in 2020 is tough, and to be both is even harder. There are many teachers who are parents performing the balancing act of doing both from their living room. I talked with a Milwaukee teacher who is working to keep her high school students and four-year-old daughter on track.
"She just starts a tantrum and then you've got a four-year-old screaming while we're in the middle of reading a passage out loud," Nicole Reid, a freshman and sophomore english teacher with Carmen Schools of Science and Technology, said.
Nicole is talking about her daughter, Brielle. For most of the time, Brielle is great. However, there come the obvious and unavoidable headaches that coincide with parenting. It wouldn't be so noteworthy if Nicole wasn't a single mother trying to teach high schoolers and keep Brielle's focus on her own school work.
Shoutout to parents and teachers right now! There are few roles we expect more from than them. A thread ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/cUzjHSB4mP— James Groh (@JamesGroh_) December 1, 2020
"I found myself not being able to get her to class on time. Not being able to remember when her small groups, and gym class, and music classes were. And then I'd be frustrated in my own classes because I’m teaching, and I’m trying to manage an entire second schedule," Nicole said.
She has to balance all of these things at once while doing it from the confines of her apartment living room. She and Brielle are both doing remote learning. She has a few techniques for keeping things under control and manageable, though.
First of all, she said for the most part she admires her daughter's attitude.
"It's actually required a lot more maturity and independence from her than it's required so much from me in terms of managing her."
However, when Brielle isn't in class, sometimes Nicole will let Brielle join in on her lesson.
"(The students) get really excited to see her on the computer.”
This was made a little easier since Brielle made occasional appearances in Nicole's class last year, so the sophomores are familiar with her.
She is also very transparent with her students. They know their teacher's situation, so occasionally Nicole will tell the class she needs to check in on her daughter who is in the other room. It only takes a few moments.
These are just the ways Nicole keeps tabs on her daughter as a parent. She still has to tackle the same issues all other remote teachers are going through: how to reach students through a screen.
"It's hard to gauge when kids are getting it, and when they’re not. And it's hard to gauge when students are truly there and listening to you."
She says the body language cues aren't there, so she has to enunciate extra, have even more of a positive attitude, and really show her own interest in the lesson.
It's safe to say Nicole and Brielle are ready for in-person classes to return.
“I just really want to go to a real school," Brielle said.
It has been a rough year for everyone. In our society, there are few roles that we expect more from than parents and teachers. So let's take a moment to say: thank you teachers and parents. You’re doing a great job.