Teachers juggle students and kids of their own


Katharine Carter

Carter and her kids pose in front of her work space set up with their dog.

Teachers are finding it difficult to teach virtually at home while also caring for their own children.

Viral videos on the Internet of children in the background of their parents’ video calls are highlighting the problems parents face while working remotely. For many parent teachers, another parent or helping hand at home can ease the burden.

“I am fortunate to have lots of support from my wife; her job is more flexible,” science teacher Michael Sanderson said. “Several days a week my mother-in-law and sister-in-law help out.”

Sometimes, the problem could just be less than ideal working conditions. Since teachers keep their cameras on during class, the cameras could pick up household members walking in the background or situations in which everyone is in one room at the same time.

“Everyone has their own work rooms that they go into to avoid background distractions,” English teacher Kate Carter said. “My kids have their own rooms. I have the living room, and my husband has his own space as well.”

However, not all teachers have their kids at home while they are teaching. Science teacher Ben Sellers sends his son to a community-organized, structured place to do work.

“It doesn’t really interfere with my job on a day-to-day basis because we have him in a learning pod with three other first graders,” Sellers said. “He gets dropped back off at my house about the time the fourth period starts.”

Teachers like Carter with kids who use Zoom for virtual learning seem to have fewer distractions. “I have two kids and both are in middle school,” Carter said. “I have no trouble at all. I’m pretty lucky. It’s been a lot of work for me, but they’re very good kids.”

The children who use Zoom often run into technical difficulties that they may need help with. In these situations, teachers have to find ways to solve the problem.

“My kids are both in Zoom class,” said Sanderson. “The only interference I see is when they have trouble with the platform. Sometimes, it may freeze; sometimes, their camera does not work. Oftentimes, I’m managing emotions associated with that.”

Kids in two different age groups can be even more challenging. Teachers like Sanderson who have more than one kid, find it more challenging now that parents have to keep up with their children’s schedules.

“Having two kids is more challenging in my opinion,” said Sanderson. “They have different schedules, platforms and assignments to juggle.”

There are some teachers who feel lucky to not have children who require a lot of attention from them. This makes their work day run smoother.

“I feel lucky that my kids don’t need a lot of attention,” Carter said. “They do a lot of things for themselves.”

Sanderson appreciates his family’s help with his children during the school day.

“I am lucky,” Sanderson said. “ They do need a lot of attention, but I get a lot of help from family.”