Teachers juggle parental and professional duties

The ability to work from home for months on end may sound like a blessing to many, but Biology teacher Michael Osborn’s two children occasionally force him to travel to school in the middle of a pandemic to escape the noise.

“I have to balance teaching my class, then checking in with my children to make sure they are on task, getting help, then lunch, then a break and playtime outside, then a snack, all while keeping my classrooms smoothly moving forward and on pace for the curriculum,” Osborn said. “Usually my kids know when [I am] is teaching they need to be fairly quiet, but occasionally, disturbances happen.”

Osborn is not the only one having to simultaneously balance being a teacher and a parent. Social studies teacher Kevin Curtin shares similar experiences in his virtual classroom.

“My [four-year-old] daughter can sometimes feel a little left out with everyone else on their computers,” Curtin said. “She pulled up a chair next to me and grabbed her toy computer and began teaching the class with me.”

When teaching from home, Osborn said he has given new meaning to the word ‘quarantine’ by splitting his children and himself up into different sections of the house.

“Often, I am at one end of the house and working while [the kids] are either downstairs or in a bedroom,” Osborn said. “I try to check in with each of them as soon as my class is done and then I get 10 to 15 minutes to help them, see if they have questions or remind them to work on something.”

Curtin said students do not seem to mind the occasional reminder that their teacher is also a parent, with some students finding the disturbances amusing.

“My students universally love when my children walk into my teaching space,” Curtin said. “My kids are incredibly adorable, they take after their mother. Students light up the chat box and get on their microphones to greet my kids. It makes everyone’s day, especially mine. I’m an incredibly proud father and love my students, so when they get together, they are always special moments for me.”

Junior David Neidecker said the disturbances serve as a reminder of the new normal.

“I’ve seen teacher’s kids interrupt the class in multiple instances,” Neidecker said. “While it’s probably not great that class is being interrupted, it’s interesting to see how teachers interact with their kid, which we normally don’t get to see at normal school. We sometimes get them to tell jokes or riddles and it just lightens the mood of the class.”

Osborn said his interactions with his children have allowed him to connect more with students.

“Being a parent and watching my own kids makes me sympathize for my Marshall students even more,” Osborn said. “I wish we could be ‘back to normal’ but I want everyone to stay healthy and safe.”