This is all disorienting and everything we hoped for this fall somehow is still different…how do we get our kids to adapt best and how can we support them? Dynamic teacher + tutor Susie Betron shares her insight..

“If a student logs on and says ‘I just can’t do it’, that’s not really going to work, they need to be able to say ‘I’m having trouble with___’ something specific. Children really need to learn to utilize their peer’s, and become stronger advocates for themselves. Everybody in the entire world is going to be at a deficit this year…however everybody can learn”.

– Susie Betron


Ok and we are live on Labor Day September 7, 2020! Hey, it’s a holiday. Most of you are probably outside, hopefully in the sun, like I was, but can come inside because this is important to discuss. If you have a child going back to school like I do tomorrow, or if you started already and are really feeling confused, I thought it was nice, would be nice rather, to want to hop on with a teacher and sort of see if we can get some tips from her on how to handle things with a kid going back to school in this alternate universe. And I think, um, you know, it’s hard for any parent. It’s really disorienting working parents that are at home; it’s just confusing on everybody. So she’s been doing this awhile, and just full disclosure she is an educator that has been working with my daughter, and she’s done wonders for her so let me introduce, Susie Betron and say, hi.

Hi, how are you? Good. How are you?

Good. And, um, let’s get into it because at first I want to actually keep it about how teachers are feeling. Why don’t you, you can talk to me about how you’re feeling, but also what you’re like, you’re thinking, because sometimes I think we’re not, we’re not thinking that the other side of the equation. So how are you feeling about tomorrow?

I am all about the kids. So I’m really excited to make the kids, but it’s so difficult. And I don’t feel, I mean, we just are, so technologically not where the kids are and just the things that we’ve had to learn in the different platforms we’ve just been thrown in the last five days. Um, it’s crazy. And they’re all great ideas, but there hasn’t been any time to practice and I haven’t had a child to practice on. Um, and I mean, it’s, it’s difficult and I, of course got changed last week, I was teaching science and now I’m teaching, writing, and grammar and word study, which I was teaching anyway because that was already in our classroom, so I was teaching it to my own class, but now I’m teaching it to all three fifth grades.

And now it’s, I I’m sure that that’s the thing for so many teachers. It’s just, things have changed and demands, curriculums and all that. So when you go back tomorrow, you’ll be live. But a lot of students won’t be, you know, we’re all doing this either first, you know, remote section or schedule. And what I guess, where do you start with your child? Because we did this back in March, we started this and I think, you know, maybe adjusted and we gave them a lot of leeway because it was all new, but now, now it actually counts again, you know? And what’s the best way a parent could be, I guess, supportive to a child to haA to start all over again?

In our district, And, um, I believe it should be, and most distressing is that we were told that we had to. I mean last year, it wasn’t that the kids had to be on at a certain time. Now it’s a regular school day. So the kids that are, that are hybrid that are in school live, or they are, but the children at the same time need to be live at home. Now we’ve gone one to one with Chromebooks so that everybody has one. It used to be that I couldn’t tell them at a time because I didn’t know if the family had one computer for everybody who was working for the family, the parentS, and the siblings and everybody. So now it is that the, everybody goes on and I start with a morning meeting at the, at 8:55 or 9:05 or whatever districts that you’re in an elementary school that is.
And then I start with a morning meeting and then I could say, okay, everybody do your morning work. Your do nows are up here so they can see the people that are on the meet. And, um, Then they will go and do the work and then they will come back at 9:45 and be did you read it?

So do you think like hovering over as a period is, is a better way to handle this or the loan or
schedule, which I think is, um, cause I think it was a little strange in the past when you could just log on and never, um, I mean, what kind of role does a parent or should a parent play? You don’t want to be doing everything for them, but you want to support them because if there’s an alternate universe?

I would start with them in the beginning so that they can, they, and you, you can get used to the routine, but then I would walk away because you can’t be the helicopter parent. And I mean, I would make sure that everything gets done and I would ask through the first week or so, but, um, it’s really important. I mean, the first thing is it makes sure that they’re on everything because now we’re using Google meet or before we were using Zoom. So I’m not sure that everything’s working and they gave us, they gave the kids Chromebooks and whatever’s left is what the teachers are using to do Google me. So I have to make sure that the kids like that it’s not background noise or that they’re, they’re making noise within each other, but computers, I don’t know. And I mean, I’m hoping that it gives us time to get used to it so then eventually I could do breakout rooms so that I could be with small groups and, and do it with them. But. They need to teach us how to do that first. They don’t even have that on Google meet yet.

I think we’re all learning at the same time. I mean, what’s, what’s also some advice I would say, like keeping your kids and engaged in socialized because everything’s different? And of course they’re discouraging, you know, group, group Hangouts and I think we’ve all done our own things over the summer, but, um, I guess to keep them, you know, if you’re in a school setting where they have to be a part of, and they can’t really be talking much and all of that, I mean, how do you. How do you keep a kid wondering how, or you know, how to talk to somebody, you know, not to?

I would, and again, this is just me and I’m also a parent, so I would have the same feelings. I would try to have my child make a plan with others; either when they’re in school or out of school that at 7:30 at night before they go to sleep, maybe they could all check in and see how their day was and they can have it almost like a circle. Let them have it, let them say, talk about everybody’s like they’re going to do anyway appropriately, nothing bad, it doesn’t have to be chaperones as long as everything is going okay. But I think it’s really important even three times a week so that they can reach out to others because they all have to be feeling anxiety and it’s. I don’t know if I would classify it as anxiety. I mean, that’s, I’m not a doctor. So I’m just saying they all have to be feeling anxious. I mean, I know that today- I’m home and I’m on the computer, I’m trying to clean up my house, and do my laundry, and do everything to everything will be ready for tomorrow. So I can just get up. I walk in the morning so I could walk. And then you right in school by eight o’clock so that I could go in and have 45 minutes.
So to go over what I need to try to do, because I have no idea I was going to work.

Are they getting everything they need? Because in my feeds, I’m in a lot of cases, there are shortened days, shortened periods, um, you know, and there’s going to be hustle and bustle in a hallway, trying to get everybody one way or another, you know, classes are already shortened.
These are short and what happens there and what do we, what do we do best to supplement what I think and what people think they’re missing?

I mean, For, for some, and it’s a small percentage. Those are the real self starters. And that that’s the great thing because a lot of children are, but the ones that, that need be help have to be advocates for themselves and really need to make sure that not only are they in school and it’s a shortened day, but then they have to come home and then get back on and go into all the different lengths with all the different classrooms because the teachers have, have office hours.
So if a teacher gets to know your child and like, they can’t get on and say I can’t do it, they have to go on and say, I’m having difficulty with numerators and denominators and fractures. I mean, like something specific, just not, I don’t know how to do it, that doesn’t work. Um, if you go into your ELA teacher and say, I’ve really had a hard time understanding the, um, the plot twist and how it came to the ending. And you’re telling me to change the ending. Like I need to know where that change occurred. So, the kids that are so used to being spoonfed in elementary school. Really have to kick it up a notch and go to that extra step where that’s, I don’t know if they have to discuss it necessarily with their parents. And I don’t know how much parents have time to do that with their kids because they’re working as well. But they need to eat it and discuss it with the other children that are in their grades, that they’re, they could be friends with that. They could just have a book talk. Like we, we all like, as adults have read books and then get together as a book talk, they could do that and just discuss it. It might be a good idea just to have a discussion.

No, that’s really good point about kids being advocates for themselves. Cause I think a lot of them like, you know, they, they tend not to want to speak up and it’s, it’s hard. Yeah. To raise your hand even physically. And then I think it’s harder. Google meet or a zoom scenario to hit the button. Look, raise you hand so that someone finds you! So I guess, do you do office hours and after school kind of, you know, um, support a couple more important. These days.

I don’t know that that’s becoming more important. I just believe that they need to take advantage of it. And I think that it’s a really important thing for the teachers to see that the children are interested and that they care about their results and they care about learning and that as hard as this is for the children, it’s just as hard for the teachers. And it’s just as hard for the parents. So the children have to kick it up a notch and show the teachers that they really care about this. I mean, it’s everybody in the entire world, that’s going to be at a deficit this year. So everybody’s going to be a little bit behind, however everybody can learn. And there’s different ways.
I mean, like we didn’t know now that there’s seven different intelligences that we should be taking advantage of and that I’m sure that there’s even more now, because now there’s more computers. So it’s really important that everybody can like really be their own advocate and really go after everybody and be really like speak to their kids their own age and parents, and have discussions with teachers and go on everybody’s office hours, because I think it’s really important.
Um, and after afterschool do not after school, but like do the outdoors while they can like, definitely go for a walk, definitely breathing the fresh air. Sit outside and do your homework just because

I was going to say, like, I think, you know, physical activity, because that, I don’t know what PE looks like. No idea. Um, and how, how important do you, and cause I knew you, you know, you teach elementary school and you know, they’re sitting in a room, you know, for quite a long time. I mean, I guess it’s pretty important to get up, move jumping jacks or whatever. Right. I mean, and not it integrates with your physical activity.

Right. But we can’t like in elementary school, they’re getting a half hour snack. Where they get the, if it’s nice, they’ll take them outside for snack. And so they’ll eat, they’ll go, they’ll wash their hands. They’ll be able to walk around and they’ll be able to eat for 10 minutes and then come back and wash their hands again and put on their mask. It’s just to give them some activity, but it’s not them switching classes anymore, either. Like in the middle school, it’s still the kids switching classes, but in elementary school, it’s the teachers. If we switch classes that we’re switching, not the kids.

And how do you feel this year? You and I have talked about it about like connection with the kids.
Is that going to be just really, really difficult and you know, what, what are you guys doing to try to bridge the gap that you have naturally? Because I’m out there all the time.

We’re starting. I mean, I, at least I am, I’m starting the whole first week with different icebreakers and. I want, and we’re going to down like put on apps and extensions and things on our Chromebooks together so I make sure everybody has it. I might show a couple of YouTubes to show what I expect, what they have to hand in and how to upload a photo and things like I’m trying to too quick decks, all the different things that might happen, where they say, I can’t hand it in or I don’t know how to, I’m going to try to do that first because I don’t know how to either.
I understand that. And I, and I’m totally accustomed to understanding and, and that’s, I just don’t want to let it, let it go so far, but I really want it to be that the kids know that they can talk to me that I won’t bite their heads off. Um, honestly, the, the biggest reward for me is the children. So I mean, now I, I, my, my kids were at, I mean, I’ve been teaching 27 years. So I still have, I’m still friends with those children, so it’s not friends. I mean, but those kids have kids now. So it’s, it’s, it’s what I do and what I, that’s why I do this. If it comes to the point we’re going to be completely online and not have teachers, I don’t know if that’s the right career for me anymore.

I’m going to hope. I’m going to remain an optimist and hope that they actually do go back full time or that there’s some kind of scenario that, that allows us to be a little bit more normal. Are you, are you concerned, are you worried about going back to school?

I’m not, I thought I’d be much more concerned because I am immune compromised, so I am a little nervous, but I’m also- this has been since March and I really haven’t been out of my house much and I really haven’t done a whole lot and I’m part of it. I’m thinking that I have to live and I have to do my job and I want to be with the children and if everybody wears the masks and we all wash our hands and the parents take their temperatures and do the things that they’re supposed to do when I do the things that I’m supposed to do, that if I get COVID, which, I hope I don’t, but if I do, I might be sicker yes, but I mean, there’s not much that I can stop. So I’ll wash my hands and I will use clean silverware and I’ll clean my desk as much as I can but besides that, there’s not a whole lot that I can do besides that, except just have to have faith.

No, but you’re ready. You’re ready to go back. And you think like, as a parent, like, you know, I kind of was alluding to this before I should. Nobody wants to be too invasive. And I know these kids are under a lot of stress anyway, um, is like, you know, giving them a couple hours and then it’s like dinner time, a good time to decompress, like what works best in this scenario.
Cause they’re, they’re going to be flustered and there right after school was probably difficult. What’s given them a little time, do homework and then kind of reassess the day or what would you recommend to take the edge off? Because this is hard.

I think that. For me. I mean, again, these children are much more accustomed to the computers and the phones. So for me, I would need to take a break whenever I can get up from the computer and go out, get some fresh air and walk. Um, if you’re you think that your children is totally embracing it and totally involved, they can keep going, but I would give them a break before doing homework while it’s still light out, and while you can, and if you need to go somewhere or just to go out for a walk or go, if you have a pool, do you want to go take a dip? Or if you can’t like whatever, you can just to give them a complete break. Um, as long as they can come back to it, some children I’m just better off getting going through it.
Um, some people might just might need to socialize for maybe, and have a zoom at four o’clock or three. When you get out of school, you’ll be done at three. So you can have a three o’clock zoom with friends, or they could meet at, you know, I’m the, the parking lot. And one of the schools that I could ride around for a little bit on bicycle or something, but, um, it might be a good idea, like as it gets cooler to have a zoom where they can all talk about their day, how crazy it was, and now they don’t understand this or that. So that might be worth it. I mean, it might make them all feel better if they don’t, if they don’t understand it.

No, I can’t explain the strength in numbers, they’re not doing activities either, most of them, you know, you’re doing some, but they’re not like they were like, some of them used to just end school, maybe not seeing each other, but then they’d see each other at lacrosse or soccer or whatever the case may be and a lot of that stuff isn’t quite what it was an outlet either.

It’s really important just to make sure that they feel good. I mean, I know that in my class, one of the techniques that I always use is I try to explain something and I give it two or three more times after I’ve done it the first time and if I still see a few kids that don’t understand it, I’m like, alright, somebody? kid language- anybody understand it? That they think they can explain it and they do, and they get it. So it’s not that I want to, um, make it immature. I just want them to see it from a child’s point of view, as opposed to mine.

Yeah. It’s just very demanding. It’s almost like a, like a job, like an office job that kids have now instead of school, you know, checking in and mandates on things that they have to do online and stuff. And that’s, that’s confusing. And the last question I think, you know, a lot of us were more. lenient last year, because we were too busy, we just didn’t get what they were doing.
You know, understand, and B, nobody, I don’t think a lot of school districts understood the curriculum and how to, how to present it. It’s going to be different now. I mean, I. I think I’m going to have to have them heavier approach and a little bit more stricter appropriation and not be so lenient. Cause it, cause it counts now. Right? I mean, I think that’s what the thing was. It was almost like a pass, but this is serious regardless of how it is. Like, let me go back. Right?

I mean like it’s grades, it’s the same everything, but now you should be used to Google classroom from last year. Um, now you don’t know Google meet, but it’s, I mean, what I’m understanding is that it shouldn’t be so different than Zoom. At least it’s live on the computer, so you can see each other, it might be different techniques. Like I’m going to have everybody download nod, which is an extension on Google meet, but it gives them different emojis to give me a thumbs up if they understand, or to give me a sad face if they don’t. I mean, like, I mean, as an another thing, and just because of all the FERPA and HIPAA laws that I can’t call all children’s names on the technology, because then other people hear it. And not only the children but their parents might be there, or their work people like they might. So I wouldn’t, I’m going to try to be as anonymous as possible.

Right. So we’re all just going to dive into this together. We’ll see how it goes. You and I start tomorrow, but you know, some other people watching this have already been in this, um, and things have changed. So I guess it’s going to be work in progress and there is no timeline. We can wait for you. No. Okay. Maybe in January. We did that last year and it didn’t work, you know, so I guess we’re in this for the long haul and we’ll just, we’ll keep checking in and we’ll have you back and we’d be like midyear to see how it’s all going.

Alright. Have a good day.

Thank you. Bye.

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