Feeling a little bit ‘meh’ about remote learning 2.0? You’re not alone

Jul 19, 2020 by

As hundreds of thousands of children and their parents reboot their screens for the return to remote learning on Monday, each pandemic-weary group is riding its own wave of emotion.

Students know what it feels like to grapple with an entirely different type of “school” while parents recall what it’s like to attempt hands-on teaching support from a standing start, often while juggling their own work.

The Zielenza family is gearing up for another round of school around the table.
The Zielenza family is gearing up for another round of school around the table. Credit: Simon Schluter

Sammy Robinson, 7, of Port Melbourne, says last time the extra demands on her typing skills were a challenge to start with. Myla Brodawka, 10, from Blackburn, says being in Zoom lessons with the whole class made it hard for her to have a proper conversation with the teacher.

And 14-year-old Ollie Zielenza says though there were more distractions during Victoria’s first mass classroom exodus, one upside was “for some of our assignments I got better marks than I would have at school”.

“I’m a bit disappointed really, because I just got back to school and seeing all my mates and stuff, so to go back to online schools is a bit of a bummer. But it’s nothing too hard,” said Ollie, who is in year 8 at Peninsula Grammar in Mount Eliza.

“I’m going to be more positive about it this time; when it first happened I was really negative starting off, which wasn’t good because it carried through the whole way. I’m trying to look at it in a more positive way.”

His mother, Krista, says she is pleased that she was able to rejig work in the family auto business to become hands-on when home schooling was imposed suddenly in April, but the experience left her with new respect for teachers.

“I did 75 per cent of an education degree 25 years ago; this just really reinforced to me that I made a really good decision to abandon that degree! … Hats off to everyone who does it.”

She feels for her year 6 daughter, Amelie, whose group will miss many things that make the final primary year special.

“In year 6 they have so many exciting things scheduled, but everything has been postponed until further notice or, if not, it’s just cancelled because spaces are already booked. All the fun stuff grade 6 is about has come crashing down.”

‘I caught her … emailing her teacher saying “my mum can’t answer this question so I’ve left it out”. That makes you feel great doesn’t it!’

Emma Brodawka

“I think it’s definitely the right thing for us to be doing; it’s just quite overwhelming,” Ms Zielenza says.

“We feel a bit defeated, really – that we’ve done all this hard work already, all the right things, my husband and I changed our work arrangements … and now we’re back and [outbreaks of coronavirus] are even worse than they were before.”

Emma Brodawka, of Blackburn, said once her work and school for her daughters Alexa, 12, and Myla, 10, was confined to home, part-time work stretched to full-time hours and overseeing study “added another level of complexity”.

Her girls were self-managed while Emma worked, and she says while Alexa “handled it beautifully” it was hard for Myla at times: “I caught her a few times emailing her teacher, saying ‘my mum can’t answer this question so I’ve left it out’. That makes you feel great doesn’t it!” she says, wryly.

“My husband was forced to take annual leave one day a week so we managed. It was nice being together. We were all camped around the dining room table and I actually really enjoyed that. I got a greater insight into what they were doing day-to-day at school.”

Robyn Hill, of Port Melbourne, believes her girls Scarlette, 9, and Zara, 7, will handle the experience better the second time as the family has moved from a small apartment to a house in which they will have more study space.

Ms Hill and her husband both worked full-time during the first round of home-schooling, and hired a carer for four hours a day, four days a week to oversee Scarlette and Zara’s study.

“I found it challenging,” says Ms Hill. “It was pretty tough when my husband and I were both on calls and we couldn’t break every five minutes, but we were sound of mind more than most because we did have help.”

‘I did 75 per cent of an education degree 25 years ago … this just reinforced to me that I made a good decision to abandon that degree!’

Krista Zielenza

There were upsides; “It really got the family nucleus together … we re-evaluated what’s important in life. I do feel very grateful to be in this privileged position because this pandemic is such a roll of the dice.”

Ms Hill believes anxiety is lower among parents around home school 2.0 because they understand curriculum material will be caught up if students fall behind.

Jenni Robinson, of Port Melbourne, confesses she is “insanely excited” to have her twins, Sammy and Sophie, 7, back at home in term 3. Having been a teacher, she is “really looking forward to it”.

“It was certainly a learning curve [last time] … but we came out of it with a much greater understanding of what the girls were doing at school and were able to discover completely new things about our kids that we probably would never have seen,” she said. “We worked out the kinks the first time around.”

Sophie said not having her teacher was “a bit hard”, but “it was actually pretty good because I usually did most of it in the morning then played with my sisters the rest of the day”. Sammy said the typing and computer skills she learnt will help.

On the eve of round two, perhaps Jake Starick, 11, of Strathmore, sums up best how many of his peers are feeling. “I know what I’m getting into. I think I will be more prepared,” he says. Even so, “I feel ‘meh’ about going back into remote learning.”

Source: Feeling a little bit ‘meh’ about remote learning 2.0? You’re not alone

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