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Belmont professors adapt to homeschooling their children while teaching classes online

Updated: Sep 21, 2022

Teaching college is one thing — teaching college and then teaching your own children elementary school math is quite another.

Some Belmont professors are adjusting to the added task of homeschooling their own children, in addition to their online college classes.

With the cancellation of schools around the nation, kids from elementary to high school are receiving their lessons at home.

And with their return, college professors are being called to apply their doctorates to teach elementary school equations.

For professors like Dr. Bonnie Smith-Whitehouse, this means homeschooling two children on top of her duties as English professor and Honors Director.

“It’s not going to look like their typical elementary school days and that’s OK,” said Smith-Whitehouse.

Smith-Whitehouse leads her first-grade and third-grade sons in cooking lessons, craft time and walks through the neighborhood as part of their homeschool curriculum.

But, with papers to grade, Zoom meetings and classes to teach, Whitehouse has been adjusting her expectations, she said.

“It’s hard. I want to be able to be there for everybody,” she said. “I am just trying to take it one hour at a time.”

English professor Dr. Amy Hodges-Hamilton finds organization to be the key to splitting her time between her three daughters and her students.

“I think if you show students, either the ones that live with you or the ones on the computer that you care and that you’re genuinely trying and engaged, then I think they will respect you back,” she said.

Hodges-Hamilton begins her mornings with ‘morning announcements’ before diving into reading and writing lessons with her two 6-year-olds. The professor has been trying her best to be creative in her lessons, but she admits she is not an elementary school teacher, said Hodges-Hamilton.

“I have a newfound respect,” she said. “I was already a huge fan and so grateful for every teacher I’ve ever met, but now it’s timed by a million because I’m in their shoes.”

Another challenge is keeping her twins from busting into her office while she’s on conference calls, she said.

“There really is no alone time,” said Hodges-Hamilton.

Dr. Nick Ragsdale’s transition to online classes has meant keeping his five kids, ages 11 to 21, motivated and out of the pantry, he said.

“It is a challenge. They are definitely having to be a lot more self-motivated, trying to pick up the information on their own,” said Ragsdale.

“And that’s probably a challenge not only for the younger students, but for the college students as well.”

The biology professor took two days at home to help his children transition online, but is now working from his office on campus, he said.

The combination of the schools’ preparedness and the tech savviness of his children make Ragsdale confident in his kids’ adjustment.

“They literally just fell into place.”

Ragsdale is most grateful to see his kids back in their place around the dinner table again, he said.

Whether it’s through games of Monopoly or baking cakes, the professors all feel thankful for the newfound family time, they said.

After hours of staring at a screen, with hands tired of typing, Hodges-Hamilton finds happiness in taking a break to read to her kids.

“When your girl wants to listen to a Pinkalicious book, and you can wait a minute to respond to that journal, you listen to a Pinkalicious book.”

Article by Kendall Crawford.

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