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Quarantine Has Made Me A Teacher

By Tierra Sheffield

This is an opinion column.

I thought going to school for myself during the pandemic was a lot, then I added in helping my little cousin. 

My last year of college is nothing like I expected it to be, thanks to Ms. Coronavirus. Instead of getting up every morning to shower and go to class, I’m sitting in front of a computer in my pajamas. Instead of spending nights with my friends, I find myself sitting at the house trying to get more of my work done early. Let’s face it, we literally have nothing but time right?

I figured I’d help my cousin out and bring her son over so that he wouldn’t miss school. Man, did I set myself up. I honestly thought it would go as smooth as logging on to Zoom and attending all of my classes. I was truly wrong. While all I have to do is remember the meeting code for some of my classes, my six-year-old cousin actually has a bit more he has to go through.

My classes start on time everyday but his classes start 20 to 30 minutes late because his teacher has not made it to the screen. That leaves us with a bunch of yelling kids and side conversations between them and their parents. My true issues start when class actually begins.

Something that I didn’t factor in when I took on being responsible for him was that my cousin has ADHD. It’s hard for him to sit behind a screen and focus on what his teacher is saying when there are so many other kids doing other things and various sounds around him. I wasn’t made aware that he had a disability until his mom told me two weeks after having him with me.

On top of that, he has a speech problem and can’t read. I was basically teaching him things that his mother should have already been teaching him. Because he requires so much individual time from me and his teacher, I have had to miss a few of my classes, which I don’t mind doing if it is going to help him in the near future. I just wish that his mother would put the same effort into him that I do. 

I noticed that when they were doing a fill in the blank portion of class, he was quiet. When I asked him why he didn’t answer with the other kids, he just put his head down and chewed on his shirt. After my soft asking, he finally told me it was because he didn’t know what they said and that he was afraid he would mess up.

While I’m not a fan of virtual learning for smaller children, being able to help my cousin has made it apparent that maybe this was necessary. He needs someone that can push and encourage him, but also let him know that there is nothing wrong with him if he doesn’t catch on as fast as the other kids in his class.

Starting Monday, he’s set to start physically attending school again, meaning he’ll be back with his mom. My biggest worry is that he’ll go back to fending for himself when it comes to his education at home and feel like he’s lost again.

Edited by Madison Goodgame & John H. Glenn

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Made By Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham