May 6, 2020
Dear Students and Families,
Lean in. This week my son started distance learning via Google Classroom and it has been challenging to say the least! We had finally gotten into a routine of paper packets and doing 2-3 assignments per day in addition to reading.
Well everything changed! He was now required to login into his Gmail account, go onto Google Classroom, complete 4-5 assignments per day, and turn in the assignments. I must say this caused some significant stress in our household and we had to completely re-work our family schedule and the expectations for my 8 year old. The first couple of days of the new learning routine was not very successful. My son became easily frustrated, said he did not know how to login, and was resistant to do work on the computer. He started to melt into his bed like chocolate in a hot car and did not want to move or do anything. My husband and I saw he was clearly frustrated and gave him some space and quiet time. I was working and could not help him as I was trying to support another family experiencing similar issues. I thought to myself, how can I help a family with this when my own child is having similar issues and I was not successful!
About 20 minutes later, I checked in on my son in his bedroom. His dad was with him and they were hugging. I listened admirably as my husband comforted my son and discussed ways to make the new learning work. Now my husband is great and such a support for our family, but he can be gruff sometimes and school did not come easy to him. But what is saw was a tenderness in the way he hugged my son and offered encouragement. After listening to their conversation for about 10 minutes, I asked if I could be a part of the meeting. The allowed me to ask family meetings is something my family is used to, after all I am a psychologist! We discussed the frustrations and my son articulated how he did not know what to do.
I realized that this is all new to him! Logging in, typing on a computer, sending his teacher a message, logging into Google Meet, etc. He was lacking confidence! We came up with a family plan to walk him through all the steps and I contacted his teacher twice to confirm that we were doing things correctly. I lacked the confidence too to support him! Since then we have a schedule for him to do his work from noon to 6pm with 30 minute breaks after each assignment. It has been working this week, but we have had to sit with him during each assignment to make sure he is on track and we can be available when he gets stuck.
I think what really struck me though this all is that instead of leaning out and having a stern conversation with my son, my husband leaned in and offered comfort and support. We are all experiencing such significant stress and spending so much time with each other that it is so easy to get frustrated! I was reminded that when I start to get frustrated, I too need to step back and cool down and when I am ready, lean in and have a conversation expressing what the expectations are and coming up with a plan to meet them. These are words I often hear teachers use with students. I have heard many positive conversations with students where teachers will ask, “Let’s come up with a plan.”
In closing, I hope you are all gentle with yourselves and understand the significance of the learning curve we are experiencing. My close friend often reminds me that when we learned how to walk we fell many times before we could walk with ease. Mistakes and frustrations are normal and it is okay that we may not get it YET. However, we continue to try and move forward.
Leaning in with the belief that we are all learning and growing with the new challenges that are facing us!