Extra Challenge for Some: Online Teaching with Young Children at Home

Nick Bumgardner, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

With the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, countless workplaces, including schools throughout Wisconsin, have been forced to close.  

The effects of these closures have helped to contain the spread of the virus, but they also present their own set of unique challenges.

One of these challenges has been the transition to an online learning platform.

In a matter of days, Notre Dame’s entire staff and student body undertook a complete transformation, transferring their curriculum from the in-person classroom to a virtual one.

“It has actually been difficult to keep up with everything. We have been going non-stop,” said Mr. Adam Rudar, social studies teacher at Notre Dame Academy

“My wife is working from home too, so on Monday and Tuesday she works from 9 to 6.  Wednesdays she works until 1:00. I get on my computer in the morning for a little while, but then I have the kids all day.  With making and eating dinner, and putting the kids to sleep in the evening, it is hard to really get work done. The previous week, my wife ran all sorts of errands to get us ready, so it was busy then too,” he continued.

“I want to just sit and watch TV that is not Thomas the Train or Scooby Doo.  I have been waiting to watch Avengers Endgame for months,” he added.

With the transition to home, many teachers with young children, like Rudar, have found that their already difficult job of teaching has become even more difficult and demanding.

“I have cleaned up my basement office to try to get away from the chaos of little kids.  That posed its own problems because once I started cleaning out my basement space I am finding other problems that I have to fix.  All of it takes up valuable time. However, it was essential to have a separate space to work. My wife has converted our guest bedroom into an office; she works for a call center, and she works on the computer with her headset.  So far the kids have been good about staying out while she is working. We’ll see how they do for me the next couple of days,” he said.

One of the greatest changes so far has been in communication.

Without being present in a classroom everyday, students and teachers alike have been trying to better balance their work-life responsibilities in order to complete daily assignments, respond to emails, and communicate effectively through PowerSchool and Google Classroom.

“A lot of students and the school are expecting me to be available at any time during the workday, and that is difficult a lot of days.  While trying to attend the virtual IB meeting, my children were super pumped and running around the house because the street sweeper was coming by to clean our street.  All in all, everyone has been very understanding. With email, I can usually monitor everything and get back to people pretty quickly,” said Rudar.

In these uncertain times, the ability to work from home means everything.

“All in all, I am blessed that I have a job where we can make this transition, and I can still do my work from home.  Digital learning like we are doing is not as good as actually being together in the classroom; online resources are a good support and organizer, but harder for full instruction.  Having said that, though, it will get us by. I am confident that we can still deliver good education to all of our students. It is just taking a lot of patience and adjusting from everyone.  Hopefully we can all keep safe and healthy,” he concluded.