When you first added homeschooling (and IT department) to your list of parenting duties last spring, it was pure chaos. But now that you’ve had nearly a year to get used to this whole Google classroom thing, you’ve pretty much got it all figured out… or so you think. We chatted with an elementary school teacher at a Manhattan public school to find out the stuff that she really (really) wants parents to stop doing while virtual learning.
Giving students the answers
This was by far the biggest pressure point for our teacher and her colleagues. Parents whispering answers into their child’s ear or gesturing off screen isn’t just disruptive, it’s also counterproductive to learning (but you knew that one already, right?). And if that’s not enough to make you reconsider your actions, heed these words: “Trust me—we can always tell when a parent gives their kid the answer…”
Talking in the background
Whether you’re going over your to-do list for the day (“one of my student’s parents always does this!”), asking your kid what they want for lunch or reprimanding a sibling, any background chatter while a lesson is in session is disruptive... for all the students. The fix? Get any chatter out of your system before your kid logs on (or wait until break).
Or doing anything at all in the background
“Please stop banging pots and pans like you’re in the musical STOMP while your kid’s class is in session!” our teacher implores. While it’s understood that many students are sharing devices and spaces right now, parents can help make the learning environment as productive as possible by minimizing distractions. “Dancing, drinking, turning on the TV...I have seen parents do it all,” she adds. “I have even seen parents clipping their toenails in the background!” Yikes.
Asking questions during class time
Whether you have a question about homework, schedules or your own kid, please don’t ask it during class time. “I have office hours for this, which I gave you back in September,” our teacher tells us. “If you have any concerns about the assignment or about your child, please email me and I will be more than happy to answer your questions or set up a time for us to talk,” she adds. (And it goes without saying that arguing with the teacher over a grade while class is in session and other students are present is never appreciated.)
Quoting the teacher
For many students, having a parent in the room to supervise virtual learning can be helpful (your kid would rather play video games than do algebra, after all). But remember that you’re there to keep track of what the student is doing… not the teacher. “Please don’t passive aggressively quote me while airing grievances in parent teacher conferences a week later,” she says. Remember that if your kid was doing in-person learning, you wouldn’t have a front row seat to every lesson… so unless you hear something truly concerning, trust that the teacher knows what they’re doing and focus on your child’s learning instead.
Not wearing clothing
This one goes without saying, but everyone should be dressed while class is in session. But even if your spouse does happen to walk by the screen without his shirt on, just play it cool. “Drawing attention to it by apologizing just makes it worse!” she says. (Cue your screen—shirtless partner and all—going fullscreen for everyone.)