Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Back to School

 School is back in session. 

Over the holiday, much to his initial consternation, to earn time on his tablet, William had to do a page of math work. 10 problems, each page. Division, multiplication and fractions. They weren't hard problems, to my way of thinking, but they would keep the new concepts fresh in his mind. To him, they were an outrage, "because it was vacation!"

My response was, "Well, if you don't want tablet time, that's fine too."

He left with his folder of worksheets under his arm, and he was more than a little perturbed at his grandma. 

Not for the first time. 

Won't be the last time, I imagine. 

Yesterday, both boys sat down with their devices. One at his desk in the living room, the other at a card table in the office. Grandpa works with the younger the morning for the first couple hours, doing his sight words, and his spelling words. J. reads the story they're working on for the week, and then if there is time, Grandpa reads Jase a story. By then it is time for Jase's first class. In the office, I shut the door and William and I tend to math. His first zoom class begins right away, and then we spend an hour doing the math. 

Math is done in small groups. William's is the first group. The other two groups meet for 20 minutes each during the next hour while William and his group are doing their homework. There are 7 or so kids in his group. The teacher started class by asking them to take our their whiteboards. She gave them a division problem. 

I held my breath. 

William wrote the problem down, slowly and carefully, erasing numbers when they weren't perfectly drawn. I know a delay tactic when I see it. I held my breath. I held my tongue. Eventually William had nothing left to do but to begin solving the problem. He started, with agonizing slowness. 

The teacher said, "Let's see how far everyone is." 

William held up his board with the problem neatly written.

"Keep working," the teacher said. "I'll give everyone a couple more minutes." 

William began to make anxious noises. 

"Stop it," I said. "Just put the board down and get to work. Drama doesn't solve math problems."

He put the board down, picked up his dry erase marker and started work. 

When the teacher for the second time, "Let's see where everyone is at," William held up his completed problem. 

The teacher said, "Good William, It looks like you've got it. The rest of you, let's do the problem together."

William looked a little amazed. 

The teacher worked at her own white board, one step at a time. "Okay," she said, "what is the first thing that we do?" 

William raised his hand, and when the teacher called on him, he answered the question. 

"That's right!" she said, and followed William's direction. 

William quietly watched his class learning division again. Grandma? She looked like she was sitting quietly in her office chair. Inside, there was a ridiculous amount of cheering and jumping up and down. There were even a couple cartwheels. 

He did his math homework, and he took the quiz afterwards, and there was still time left over before his next zoom class.

I said, "I'm glad that you worked on those math problems every day. It's a lot easier to keep the things that you've learned fresh in your mind than to learn them, forget them, and have to learn them all over again."

"I guess," said, William. 


  1. Your commitment is laudable. It is too bad when grandparents have to take on a disciplinary role but such is life.

    Our schools have been cancelled for an extra week, but I don't know if they are doing online work this week in the interim.

  2. Interesting, as always, to hear what the experience is like at the other end. I'll be starting giving zoom lessons again in a few days!

  3. That's great! You are a good teacher.

  4. I second AnvilCloud's comment about your commitment. Just reading how your morning is structured gives me heartburn.

  5. The way you handled this and stayed low key is admirable. He is picking up those life lessons and enjoying the praise. This process sounds exhausting, and you ARE amazing!

  6. I love that you - and Tim - are doing this for - and with - William and J.


I'm glad you're here!

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