(WFSB) – Many parents have been launched into the role of teacher for the first time due to COVID-19.
Channel 3 took a look at how distance learning is being executed in homes and learned it’s a struggle no matter where you live in the state.
Channel 3 teamed up with the CT Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut to send a survey to nearly every teacher in the state. Now, we’re getting eye-opening insight from nearly 1,000 teachers who are education from afar.
“I work 40 hours a week, I do patient care. That was nerve wracking,” said Ashley Gigliotti, a parent.
Ashley Gigliotti is a patient care assistant at a local hospital. She’s also a parent to Frankie, a student at Wolcott High School. COVID-19 has given her around the clock stress.
“It was like walking into a war zone and coming home and realizing that my kid isn’t doing what he needs to do and having to fight him to do his work,” Gigliotti said.
Before learning went online on March 13, Gigliotti says Frankie was a good student. The structure of daily classes, set schedules, and firm deadlines are now gone and Gigliotti says Frankie’s motivation has disappeared.
“I can’t get him to get out of bed. I can’t get him to do his work, we’re constantly yelling at each other because I don’t have the patience for him not to listen to me,” Gigliotti said.
Frankie’s days are supposed to be spent in front of the computer screen, instead it’s a TV screen.
“That’s what he does. He watches Brooklyn 99 and sleeps,” Gigliotti said.
It seems like this episode is playing out in homes all across the state. Gigliotti wishes face-to-face time wasn’t gone completely.
“I think if he had classroom time, where he had to get up, had to be on the computer, doing FaceTime with a teacher, like in a group effort, that would be more structure for him,” Gigliotti said.
Channel 3 learned some districts are doing that. Maloney High School in Meriden is setting up virtual office hours. Teachers need to be available online three days away for 30 minutes.
“Honestly, I don’t want to be your teacher, I hate being your teacher. I don’t envy them at all,” Gigliotti said.
Those aren’t the only challenges. Distance learning has exposed the state’s digital divide.
“It’s difficult that not all my students have access to get onto the computer to see the assignments that I’m posting,” said Ali Kirchberger, teacher at Hopeville Elementary School in Waterbury.
Of those 1,000 teachers who answered the survey, a combined 87 percent said devices were provided to students and teachers, but every teacher Channel 3 spoke with could provide an example of a family who doesn’t know how to work it.
“Some students may have Chromebooks, but they can’t log on and they just don’t have the technology wherewithal to figure out what to do,” said Patty Roy, Windham Middle School teacher.
Roy is doing what she can to help navigate.
“Literally saying, ‘go to this tab, click on Google Classroom, look at where it says Classroom, click here,’” Roy said.
In some cases, families don’t have laptops ore internet access at all. In the state, 60,000 laptops have been donated and some are still waiting to be delivered.
“There’s going to be a need for acceleration and remediation for lost learning for years,” said Dr. Miguel Cardona, Commissioner of the Department of Education.
So, the alternative is lesson packets. Parents drive to the school to pick them up, then drive back to turn them in, but that’s when learning is most at risk of being lost entirely.
“I may not see those packets. I can see what they’re doing online,” Kirchberger said.
The stress the parents are under can stem from a variety of things including not having the laptops, not being able to help students because they themselves don’t know the material, or maybe it’s having an unmotivated student.
All of the teachers that spoke with Channel 3 want to reassure parents to just do the best they can. Teachers are being as accommodating as possible and if some lessons are too complicated, they will revisit them when students get back to school.