Teachers are telling stories from the online learning front — and these days, it's not always the kids who need redirection.
"I just had a parent get on a Google Meet today say that her kid was asleep and ask if she could sit in and he could get credit for being present to class. Uh, no!" posted Anthony Mansur, principal of Stevenson Elementary School in Decatur, Illinois, on TikTok.
Mansur invited other educators to join in and share their own stories, and several of them featured other parents behaving badly. "How about the parent who put their 2-year-old on our kindergarten call because she was working?" posted TikTok user @stephanielynnx35.
"I have had three parents take over their student's video to ask me questions in the middle of me teaching!!!" said TikTok user @dre_bella. "I have a parent that tells their child to stop asking questions and just sit there quietly... every time she asks for help!" said user @ms.mullett.
Want to avoid getting put on blast this fall? Follow these etiquette rules for remote learning.
1. Everyone who might appear on camera needs to wear clothing
Though it need not be business casual, teachers urge students, siblings, and parents to be dressed when the student has the webcam turned on and they are in class.
"Always check what your camera can pick up behind your kid. You would be amazed at what we can see," said North Carolina teacher Stacey Waltzer.
And if accidental nudity happens, don't call attention to it, said Santa Barbara, California, mom Deva Dalporto. "When your husband starts to take off his shirt in the background of a class Zoom, don’t start screaming at him, because you will both become full screen and we will all see his naked abdomen full-size," she said. "Saw this happen this spring and still laughing about it!"
2. Let your child be the student
Teachers have seen parents sitting in front of the camera instead of their children, and answering questions for the kids.
It might be tempting to chime in, said Waltzer, but "Let your kid answer for him or herself no matter how much you want to speak. Teachers know all about wait time!"
"We really want to know what they know and understand," explained Winter Springs, Florida, elementary school teacher Sara Conway.
3. Beware of hot mics
Teach your child how to mute and unmute. Then, remember that when the mic is on, the class will hear everything anyone says within its range.
"Please check your child’s audio daily. Check that they can hear and that when they unmute when asked to by the teacher, the teacher and class can hear them. This is the number one problem," said Conway. "Sometimes you have to log out of the meet and back in to the meet to fix an audio issue. Have your child practice how to mute and unmute on their device independently."
And when they have mastered the mic, remember: "Don't yell at, threaten, or belittle your child during a live lesson in front of others or in front of their teacher," said Florida middle school teacher Sarah Joiner. That might be a good rule of thumb when the mic isn't on, too.
4. Respect the teacher and the classroom
Yes, your child is learning from home, but when they are logged in, they are in a real classroom.
"Please don't pull your child away to help unload groceries from the car or help celebrate their little brother's birthday," said Longwood, Florida, elementary school teacher Heather Doyle. "Parents and children need to treat this as if their child were sitting in a brick-and-mortar building. This isn't distanced learning."
If you decide to sit in on a class, let the teacher know you are there, said Katie Sluiter, a middle school English teacher from Grand Rapids, Michigan. "If you were in my classroom, I could see you. Sitting off-screen listening without letting the teacher know seems a little like spying," she said. "I would totally welcome parents to attend meetings with students, I just like to know who I am presenting to that day."
The bottom line? Remember what you yourself learned in kindergarten about the Golden Rule.
"From both a teacher and parent perspective, everyone has to choose their battles," said former teacher and Indiana mom Sumer Ramsey, who is homeschooling her triplets this year for kindergarten. "Teachers are not going to have the control they would have in the classroom. Parents are going to have to deal with setting up an environment conducive to learning that impedes on the privacy of their space.
"Grace is the name of the game."