Noelle Morris: What is something that you actually hope does not return back to just the traditional brick and mortar, not just as a parent, but as a teacher.
Debra Liese: You know, I think I mentioned it briefly before, but I think that one thing that's come out of this for us is the feeling that there's a really nice partnership between the home and school.
The teachers at my kids' schools have all been just great about communicating, I think particularly because this was just such a new experience for everybody. Nobody really felt like an expert going into it. So I think that at first, especially in the first few weeks, there was a lot of back and forth, and I found that the teachers were very receptive to me writing to them and saying, Hey, we're trying to do this activity, but it's really not working for my kid. Is it okay if we do this replacement activity? Or, gosh, you know, my kid really just can't do her math online. Is it okay if I print this out and then take a picture of it and send it back to you?
All kinds of little things like that would arise in the first couple of weeks. I found the communication back and forth to be really reassuring because I felt like we were all finding our way together and that schools were kind of relating in a different way to the students and to their communities.
There's a bit more flexibility. There's a bit more focus on the kids' emotional health. I know that my older daughter often has little one-on-one Google Hangouts with her teachers, and [in middle school] she just never really had that kind of one-on-one communication before. I think the way they're going about it is really encouraging.
Most of the public schools are, you know, pretty pressured, generally speaking, trying to get the kids ready for standardized tests. We’re just seeing them all go out the window this year. They're no longer getting ready for standardized tests, and the focus really has become on how is everybody doing.
We've been talking about social-emotional learning for years and yet I'm not quite sure I've seen a lot of really great social-emotional learning in practice until just recently. I mean, I'm sure a lot of it happens at school and I'm not a part of it, but that wall has kind of come down and now the home and school life is really blending together.
I'm really getting to see how accommodating teachers can be when they're able to be. It's really interesting. And I see a lot of individualization happening in very subtle ways, just as the teachers interact with parents and try to get a better sense of what works for each kid.
I mean, there are certainly frustrations, and there are days when I'm trying to do a meeting for work that's critically important, and suddenly a virtual cello lesson will just come busting in! But it's nice that as a society, as a human community, that we're all kind of in it together.
My husband and I have both said that quite a bit to each other over the past few weeks, that if this had happened two months ago, three months ago, and you had your kids interrupting your meeting, you would be fairly mortified. But now we're all kind of experiencing that on a day to day basis, and that's been kind of humanizing. We've all kind of seen these little parts of our coworkers’ personal lives, and we've all received, hopefully reassurances that, Hey, it's okay.
Noelle Morris: And I think we have to both as parents, as teachers, and as the learner, all, just be a little more aware of where everyone is. Just be nice about it.
So I would like to ask, as we wrap up this call, Debra, what skills do you see your children learning that you hope the teachers will see when they do get a chance to be back face to face and in any capacity that that is?
Debra Liese: I guess one of the things that I think has been a real plus from this experience is the amount of time the kids get to pursue independent reading.