Homeschool Heroes: Teachers who homeschool
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the Wiedel family, school is a big part of life. Jen Wiedel is a first-grade teacher at Soda Creek Elementary School and her husband, Courtney, is a substitute teacher in the Steamboat Springs School District, as well as in Hayden. Moving to distance learning was a world apart from their normal lives though.
“After 22 years of teaching, I feel like a beginning teacher all over again!” Jen said. “The technical side of teaching remotely has been a challenge to get up to speed on. I have always been a hands-on, personal, in-your-face type of teacher, and the distance learning environment is quite different from my style.”
Her main goal was to give every child a chance to succeed in this new environment, including her own children.
Charlie, 10, and Annika, 7, took it upon themselves to create a schedule for their day, consisting of academics, chores, projects and fitness.
“They even incorporated a bit of art and creativity time into their days,” Jen said. “But as the weeks wore on, it became apparent that there was simply too much in the schedule to accomplish everything on their original lists.”
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Now both children have official school time with their teachers and complete their schoolwork early in the day in order to have free time later.
It’s a constant adjustment for all. Courtney, who is also a real estate broker, checks in with his work remotely each morning, and in her own remote classroom, Jen spends time each day teaching, making sure her lesson plans are lined up and ensuring that each student is finding success.
“That was one of the most difficult things to achieve with varying levels of engagement within my classroom,” she said. “Some kids do not have the same level of access to the digital world, for a variety of reasons. Equity was a challenge.”
While challenges are plenty, Jen said that the biggest thing that helped the family over the past few months is realizing that there is nothing they can do about it.
“Enjoy the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the simple life,” she said. “Things will get back to the hectic pace of real life soon enough, and we’ll all look back and wish things would slow down again.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
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