Teaching in the Age of CoronaLearning

Well, that was interesting. I knew that returning to teaching after a 20-year hiatus would be a challenge, but nothing could have prepared me for this spring. With all that’s happened in the world the last few years, I was convinced my surprised face was permanently in cold storage. How wrong I was; it was just napping on the couch, drooling on the cushions. It snored itself awake in March.

That month, Friday the 13th (because of course it would be Friday the 13th) was our last day in the classroom. We went from preparing for the next day’s Multicultural Fest to a state-wide stay-at-home order in the blink of an eye; we never did return to the classroom. Fast forward to June, and we had just wrapped up CoronaLearning. Oh, it’s been called e-learning and remote learning, but my friends, this is the most wackadoodle learning situation I’ve ever seen so I’m calling it what it is.

I teach middle school band. It is not easy teaching online for anyone; for band directors whose classes are regularly 60-plus kids in a teacher-led, daily group participation project it is a situation that requires words of the not family-friendly variety. It was hard, it was hilarious, it was overwhelming, it was enlightening, it was hopeless, and it was hopeful. And I really, really hope we can return to the band room soon.

And then there’s overseeing my son’s at-home CoronaLearning. Thank god he’s a high schooler and was able to manage on his own; even brought some of his grades up. I get lightheaded when I start to think of what it would have been like had this all hit when my boys were younger. Like, a decade or so ago. School was hard enough when they were 9 and 6; all this [vague hysterical waving with a stifled whimper for good mea...


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About Jen Merrill

Jen Merrill is a writer, music educator, and gifted-family advocate. The mom of two boys, she homeschooled one twice-exceptional son through high school while happily sending the other out the door every morning. Her book, If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back?, struck a nerve with families; her second book, on the needs of gifted parents and selfcare, is in progress. In addition to writing on her longtime blog, Laughing at Chaos, Jen has presented at SENG, NAGC, and WCGTC.