BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - What are GL teachers up to during quarantine? Are they binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix, trying out new recipes, reading new books? Is their experience similar to students? How are they holding up while parenting and teaching under the same roof?
Due to the unusual circumstances of online learning, teachers have been balancing time between teaching and their families and do not have too much time for anything else.
The myth that teachers have much more free time during remote learning is just that - a myth.. Most teachers have found that they actually have less free time despite the half-day schedule, mainly because of craziness with kids being home or just the need to tailor different lesson plans to fit with the new schedule.
Math teacher Nicole Manganelli learned that the hardest part about online remote learning is preparing and making sure that all worksheets are converted to PDFs, all handouts are ready for students to access, and communicating with students mainly through email.
Manganelli added that the hardest part about online learning is “making sure students truly understand what I am teaching each day.”
For teachers with little ones at home, life is even more crazy. English teacher Christine Talarico has two young kids who cannot be left unattended, so she and her husband, who also works in education, cannot be working at the same time.
“As much as watching the kids is a matter of safety, since we want to enjoy the extra time with them, it is emotionally difficult to separate work from home at times,” Talarico said.
While balancing being a parent and a teacher, Talarico has found herself able to adapt to new forms of school activities. She has still found time to rehearse with her tap class and keep up with her fellow castmates - she was set to play Viola/Cesario in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night - through Zoom.
Outside of schoolwork, teachers have tried to watch some new shows or do some experimental baking, but with busy schedules, they have not been able to invest too much time in these activities.
Physics teacher Dawn Buchan has found that grocery shopping online is a new task she has taken part in over quarantine. She said, “Unless you count ‘searching online retailers to see if anyone finally has granola bars and Cheerios in stock’ as a hobby, then no I haven’t taken up any new ones.”
Aside from grocery shopping, Buchan has been busy preparing to teach AP Chem, while also receiving her certification from Rutgers as a special education teacher.
Although English teacher Nadezhda Mims has watched plenty of movies and shows on Disney+ with her three and five year old daughter, every day in quarantine has been spent helping them complete their daily assignments along with keeping up with her own grading.
Even though the daily schedule is overwhelming Mims remains thankful.
She said, “Not a day goes by during quarantine that I am not being grateful for the health and well being of my loved ones.”
Teachers seem to have enjoyed the extra time with their families and been able to appreciate all that the school is doing to keep everyone safe. They miss students and more interactive teaching, but are adjusting well to new ways of instruction. With more responsibilities and the need to perfect time management skills, quarantine is just as busy for teachers as it is for students.