May 8, 2020
VINCENNES, Ind. – Educators often think of their students as their
children. These days their own children are also their students.
Some Vincennes University faculty members are pulling double duty in
the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. They are teaching online
classes, while also helping their children with schoolwork. All from home.
Social distancing practices have moved education online and students
from kindergarten through higher education are learning virtually. VU
faculty members like English Associate Professor Matt Groneman are
balancing work duties and parenting.
Matt Groneman, VU English Professor
With his wife working as a nurse, navigating his kids' education is
mostly Groneman’s responsibility. He helps his first-grade son and
fifth-grade daughter with writing assignments, science experiments
using household materials, and crafts as part of their routine and
also serves as a math and social science tutor. Keeping to a schedule
is key, according to Groneman.
When it comes to his students, Groneman hosts virtual office hours,
grades coursework, critiques drafts, and chats with students via video conferencing.
“I am also available to students anytime by text or email, Students
have my phone number, and so they can also call me,” he said.
“Basically, I take care of the kids, then schedule the rest of my time
to devote to my students at VU!”
The shift to homeschooling has parents and students all over
appreciating and recognizing the hard work and dedication of
educators, who have switched the way they carry out their duties of
conducting learning experiences but continue to foster learning,
provide emotional support, and be there in all kinds of ways for their
students while doing the same for their own children.
Rick Kribs, VU Assistant Provost
"The COVID pandemic has presented numerous challenges for VU
students and faculty, alike, including the addition of personal
expectations,” Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Instruction Rick
Kribs said. “Many faculty and staff who are working remotely are also
playing a supplemental role in their children's e-learning.
Facilitating and assisting with e-learning while remaining attentive
and productive to their own classes shows the level of commitment that
our faculty have for education. These challenging times will not
suppress the heart of a teacher!"
A typical day for Law Enforcement Program Chair and Associate
Professor Cara Gilmore begins very early and ends incredibly late. She
is a mother of four and her husband is considered essential. That
makes her their children’s primary caregiver. Gilmore helps her
daughters in third and fifth grade with schoolwork. She also takes
care of her younger children who are ages one and three.
Cara Gilmore, VU Law Enforcement Program Chair and Professor
It’s not uncommon for Gilmore to work until midnight, advising
students, recording lectures, grading, inputting assignments,
responding to emails, and completing other tasks.
“While it is a lot of late nights at the office, it has to be done. I
owe it to my students and my children to give them all my full
attention. Someone asked me during all of this, how I manage to do it
all. I told them, I hadn't really thought about it. I just do it. It
has to be done, so you do what you have to do,” Gilmore said.
Kristin Jessee, VU Psychology Professor
Psychology Professor Kristin Jessee admits to experiencing moments of
complete joy and stress as she teaches remotely and schools her
“I hate to admit it, but the reality of this season brought lots of
extra screen time. We spent a lot of time doing crafts, playing with
his toys, and completing various preschool tasks. There were lots of
messes and pillow forts. I tried to keep a consistent schedule with
meals and nap times. While I worked, he would pretend to work beside
me, or find some other task to keep himself entertained.”
Psychology Professor and Psychology/Sociology/Social Work Department
Chair Hope Clausman explained she has experienced many challenges this
semester, but hers don’t seem to compare to those of other colleagues.
Hope Clausman, VU Psychology/Sociology/Social Work Department
Chair and Professor
“Their ability to multi-task (or multi-teach) has been amazing,”
Clausman said. “They are teaching their own children in addition to
their VU students, and they are doing so with grit and grace. While I
know they’ve had to make major adjustments and have experienced
overwhelming moments, I am so proud of their strength, coping skills,
and focus on quality virtual services for our students. They are
positive role models for all of us, especially our VU students.”
Jessee suggests educators who are teaching students as well as their
own kids is to take it day by day.
“It sounds kind of cliche, but practice being present in each
moment,” she said. “Play is the language of children. If you find
yourself schooling children while teaching remotely, take in the
moments to truly play with your children. The moments of eye
connection, cuddles, and laughter brought great heart connection for
my son. His face would light up, and I knew he felt valued and loved.”
Gilmore’s advice to educators who are balancing online instruction
and looking after their children is to hang in there.
“It may not be how everyone else does it. It may not be easy, but
everyone's situation is different, so do what works best for you, your
students, and your children. You may not be able to hold live Zoom
lectures or respond to emails during the day or you may have children
dropping in on your Zoom meetings for work, but that doesn't make you
any less effective, or any less of an educator. As long as your work
is getting done, your students are learning, and your children are
learning, the time of day and method isn't what is important, it is
the knowledge you are passing on,” Gilmore said.