KO faculty juggle online teaching and parenting


In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, educational institutions of all levels have moved to online learning. As a result, parents of young children have found themselves faced with an additional task: having to coordinate their children’s at-home learning with their own online teaching, all while performing their duties in the face of a global pandemic. Teachers with young children now find themselves teaching not only their own students, but also their children, a task that proves quite challenging. 

French teacher Ryan Brodeur and physics teacher Kathleen DiSanto are one set of KO parents who have had to balance distance learning with parenting. Both teach demanding AP classes and have had to navigate the College Board’s many changes. On top of all this, they ensure that their two children—Kinley (Pre-K) and Rowen (second grade)—are on top of their own schoolwork, hoping to maintain a feeling of normalcy in their children’s day-to-day lives. 

Each week, the children’s teachers post the work that they are supposed to complete. Ms. DiSanto prints out the posted assignments and creates schedules for her children, regarding what work they need to complete and when. In the morning, the kids work for two to three hours before they eat their snack. Then, there is a period of “quiet time” that had been in place before they had to learn from home. This helps Ms. DiSanto and Mr. Brodeur concentrate on teaching and on their other tasks. The kids spend two hours in their room where they can, for example, read, take a nap, or draw.

 “It’s really important that they have this time to relax,” Ms. DiSanto said, “but also that we have that time because it’s really helpful for us as teachers to have that quiet time.”

Regarding changes to the curriculum of his own classes, Mr. Brodeur mentioned how the modifications to the AP French test haven’t really impacted him too much, as the course isn’t structured in the same way as most other AP’s. “The content isn’t chronological per se,” he said. “It’s not like they were cutting out a unit of grammar, but it’s just that they’re testing less skills.” 

Ms. DiSanto, on the other hand, is excited about the changes. “I’m happy because they took a unit off, so there is less content to learn, and we can spend this time reviewing.” 

Although these sudden changes have certainly been challenging, Mr. Brodeur and Ms. DiSanto have stayed optimistic. “On the positive side, it’s nice to spend time with my kids because, normally, we would each have school that would take time away from them,” Ms. DiSanto said. “I get to see their faces more now!”

Mr. Brodeur mentioned how the release of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, a video game for the Nintendo Switch, coincided nicely with the start of social distancing. He and Ms. DiSanto play the game frequently, often with a group of KO teachers.

Mr. Brodeur said that they’re fortunate, as they have a backyard and don’t feel cramped in their house. “As the weather gets better though, when we would normally have a lot of KO traditions with the start of spring, it’s going to get difficult,” Mr. Brodeur said. “Right now in early spring, it’s easier to stay inside, but as it gets nicer outside, it will be a bit sadder to stay in the house all day and not be meeting with people.”