When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced schools would close for three weeks and classes would likely resume online, Lawrence Lower School teacher Jessica Troike had two sets of kids on her mind: the students with learning differences in the fourth through sixth grade classes that she teaches and her own daughters, 8-year-old Ella and 6-year-old Dana.During the break and beyond, she’s working from home formulating online-friendly lesson plans for her students once school resumes, doing already-scheduled parent-teacher conferences over the phone and making sure her own daughters are still learning while on break from Brecksville-Broadview Heights City Schools.
We asked Troike about how to structure your kid’s day at home, work-life balance when work and life are under the same roof and more.
[My husband] Josh and I told the girls we’re going to make a schedule. “We’re going to try and stick to it as best we can because at school, you normally have a schedule. We need to you focus on one thing at a time.”
Which means doing activities that were like, let’s get out the Lucky Charms that I bought for the students at school and can’t use. I gave the girls a small bowl of cereal, and they were sorting the shapes first on a mat. And then they made a graph, colored the graph to go with how many of each of the shapes there were, the horseshoes and the balloons and stuff, and then they took the information from the graph and answered questions.
That was the first time [during this] where it was like a teaching experience for my own children at home.
When we kind of decided we were going to have a schedule, I intentionally made it to work so that my girls were doing any schoolwork or anything that they needed to do at certain times. In the afternoon starting at 3 p.m. is considered “tech time.” If they decided that they wanted to watch a movie or TV or use their tablets or whatever, that was essentially the time they would do it because that was mommy’s time to get on the phone and put herself in the office. And everyone’s had snacks before I went in there because we have assigned snack times so everyone’s not eating all day long. I think everyone needs that. And it’s worked out really well, because Josh typically gets home at, like, 4:15 p.m. So halfway through my conference time, I’m not the only parent in the house.
After my school's spring break ends March 31, our schedule obviously will change a bit. Lawrence chose to do the distance learning live, so we’re basically using Zoom to teach our classes from 9 a.m. to noon every day. It’s not like I have to be straight from 9 a.m. to noon. We have a 15-minute break for what would normally be a snack time in our regular classrooms. That’s built in, and there’s also a break for 15 minutes because they have just switched from their language teacher to their math teacher.With any of those little times, I feel like my girls would also be able to transition to other stuff. Tech time or TV time might change a little bit.
I’m hoping with everyone on board, that they get to learn something — that every student in my class and my children get to at least move forward and remember what they need to be doing at school. That’s the hope. — As told to Jason Brill