The Coronavirus Diaries: Adventures in Virtual Teaching

I know many of you have just experienced your first few days of distance learning with your kids. Others of you are teachers like me, spending hours and hours trying to learn an entirely new platform and figure out how to best translate your material into this new medium. I feel for you all.

I’ve been teaching online classes for about 6 weeks now.  I am a reading specialist so I am primarily working with younger students on phonological awareness, the mechanics of reading, and later reading comprehension and writing. The majority of my students are 3-6 years old and English is their second (or third) language (although I’m not teaching ESL).

With my youngest students, we do interactive and play-based learning. For some LOLs, check out this promo video that was shot 10 days before I gave birth.


Now imagine trying to translate that onto an online platform.

Along with the challenges of trying to deliver engaging and effective lessons online, there are also totally new challenges. Like trying to keep a three-year-old’s attention when they get up and walk away from the computer. Below is a collection of things I’ve observed and experienced of the past six weeks.


  • Lots of my students’ parents wear their pajamas at all hours of the day.
  • There are two types of parents to watch out for:

1. The Over-Involved Parent

Me: What is the first sound of ‘cat’?


Me: Thanks, Mason’s Mom. One point for you.

2. The Under-Involved Parent

Me: Hey, Hanna, where did you go?  Come back! Hey… Hanna’s mom? Or dad? Or grandpa? Anyone?

Hanna’s dad: Where is Hanna?

Me: I mean…I don’t know…she just kind of ran away. Isn’t she with you?


Me: Wow. Thank you for sharing.

Hanna: You’re welcome!

  • I have sooooo many more chins than I realized. Also very huge and expressive eyebrows.
  • Every child in Hong Kong has something with Elsa or Optimus Prime on it.
  • Mute buttons are glorious and we should have them in real life.
  • Technology is amazing. Except when it’s the worst. Which is at least once every day.


  •  I have one 3-year old student who attends class along with everyone in her household. I think they connect the computer to their TV screen. And then Sasha and her mom and her baby brother Lloyd and her grandma and her two helpers all attend the class together.
  • I have several students whose moms or helpers (Helpers are like nannies. They are also called aunties.) are sitting off-screen shoving food into their mouths through the whole class. Can they not sit through a 30-minute class without eating?!
  • One of my coworkers had a student attend a class while he was going through airport security. Another attended from what seemed to be a restaurant bathroom. Another friend had a student attend while in the backseat of a taxi.
  • My older students (like first to third grade) actually behave better online than they do in person. I suppose because they can’t flick erasers at each other and stuff like that?
  • Some kids become very tight-lipped while others overshare. In a class of 3-4 year olds…

Me: In today’s story, we heard about a boy who was very naughty. Are you ever naughty?

Gladys: No.

Me: Oh, ok. That’s good.

Scarlett: Sometimes yes.

Me: Ok, what happens when you’re naughty?

Scarlett: I cry.

Me: Oh. Does your auntie ask you, “What’s wrong, Scarlett?”

Scarlett: …No…

Me: Does she say, “It’s Ok. Don’t cry.”


Me: Ok. What about you, Natalie?

Natalie: Well…I am not naughty. Except only sometimes my auntie says, “Natalie! You are a troublemaker!” and I say, “Whachyou talking ’bout?” I’m not a troublemaker, except sometimes only I am supposed to go to sleep, and I don’t want to sleep, I just want to eat.

Me: Wow. So does your mommy say, “No, Natalie! You have to sleep?”

Natalie: No.

Me: Really?

Natalie: No. Because we are Chinese people. So she doesn’t say, “No,” like that in English.

Touche, Miss Sassypants


This is a learning process for all of us, so no matter which side of this you’re on, can we all agree to give each other grace? You don’t judge us for our lessons being a bit hodge-podge or the online platform glitching, and we won’t judge you for bribing your kid with M&M’s to get them to sit down for class. Deal?