69ºF

Teaching from home: Distance learning, lesson planning... and raising a toddler in the age of COVID-19

Elle Spicer, like many working in education, had her work and home life completely altered

Third grade teacher Elle Spicer tries to work from home while also watching her 17-month-old son, Wesley.
Third grade teacher Elle Spicer tries to work from home while also watching her 17-month-old son, Wesley. (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – These days, she doesn’t even wake up to an alarm. The toddler almost always wakes her up. On this particular morning, 17-month-old Wesley was rearing to go, anxious to play.

Like many educators, third-grade teacher Elle Spicer had her life altered when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Before, she would typically make a stop on her way to work and drop Wes off at daycare, finally arriving enthusiastic and ready to go. Her life revolved around physically being there for her students, but now, because of the “Stay Home, Work Safe” order, she’s lucky if she gets a few focused hours of students’ time.

“When we heard students would be learning from home, at first we were wondering how it all would go,” Elle said.

Elle, a full-time employee of the Northside Independent School District (and my wife), is one of the fortunate people still getting paid during the crisis. The realities of the job, however, have changed.

“Teachers are still expected to make themselves available to students, to check work, and come up with lessons plans each and every day. The difficulty comes from not being as hands on as it once was,” she said.

Elle Spicer tries to work while also giving attention to her 17-month-old son Wesley.
Elle Spicer tries to work while also giving attention to her 17-month-old son Wesley. (KSAT)

Where there were once group math and reading sessions, there is now individual online classwork. Students are expected to work from home and keep up with assignments, all while receiving instruction via internet chat. And while giving that instruction, Elle now faces obstacles she didn’t ever face in the classroom.

“It’s extremely difficult to try and teach, or be on a conference call with parents or co-workers when you have to entertain a toddler at the same time,” she said. “Wes is at an age where he needs constant stimulation so I’m having to work with my husband to organize pass-offs between us just get things done.”

In just the short amount of time since social distancing began, there have been numerous cases in which being a mother and teacher directly collide.

“There was once an instance where Wes desperately needed to be changed and we both were on conference calls at the same time,” Elle said. “Madness ensued as the diaper didn’t hold and our dog came and attempted to lap it all up.”

At 17-months-old, Wesley’s attention span is too short to be entertained by TV for long stretches. He is constantly getting into things, speed walking, and pushing his limits. But having never been a stay-at-home mom, Elle is appreciative of the time she does get with him, crazy as it is.

“I just love him so much, and it is fortunate to get this opportunity to watch him mature daily,” she said. “After work as a family we all go for a walk, to just try to decompress. I feel like we all need to just enjoy the time with our families, however nuts it may be. These are going to be times, looking back, that required us all to just slow down and be thankful for what we have.”

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

MORE CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE FROM KSAT:


About the Author: