Teachers are incredible – Meet Debbie Furgueson!
Debbie Furgueson is a mom of 4 kids (now in their 20’s), including our very own Integrated Marketing Manager, Cait Khosla! Debbie has been a teacher for 34 years, with 15 of them as a Special Education teacher. She’s also the founder and CEO of A Better Classroom, describing her work as: “Solving behavioral challenges for children using my background and skills with students on the spectrum, trauma survivors, and learning disabilities.”
I think we can all agree what teachers do for our children is immeasurable. Hopefully, some good that can come out of this trying time is that teachers receive the respect (and paycheck!) they deserve.
Clearly, this isn’t an easy job by any means. I know I could use some help in my “classroom” right now, and I bet you can, too – thank you, Debbie!
Mom to Watson (4) and Ever (9 months)
Q: How can we be better at homeschooling right now?
A: For parents carrying out school-given work: Recognize this is new for everyone. Don’t be hard on yourself – or the kids. The first thing that has to be done is to make sure your kids are not stressed out about things. Learning cannot be done when anxiety is present – biological fact. Take a look at what they have to do, break it in to reasonable chunks of time with breaks in between for movement and to give a “brain break.” The amount of time you should expect them to focus changes by age.
For parents doing their own teaching: learning doesn’t have to come from a book! Cooking – you’re reading a recipe, measuring ingredients, using elapsed time – all math skills. Taking a walk – record how long it takes to get to X, show them how to put it on a graph, analyzing data over time – statistics! Choose a country – research the language, foods, celebrations, etc. – social studies. The list goes on and on.
1. Routine. Make a schedule that the kids will stick to – they need the emotional comfort and predictability right now.
2. Limit the time they are on electronics. You can’t be sure what sites they’re on, and don’t want them relying on it for relaxation. Have them read, write letters, cook, rearrange their room, purge closets/ toy chests…
3. Don’t let them “whine” their way out of working or start a power struggle. This is not debatable. They still have work to do. All that’s changed is where it’s being done. This is not a vacation.
4. Healthy meals – a lack of physical movement can lead to irresponsible eating habits.
Q: What have you found to be the most difficult age to teach?
A: Honestly, there isn’t one. The “littles” (as I call them) ages 3-5 are sponges of all kinds of information which is SOOO much fun, ages 5-8 are learning how to really read and master math facts and this self-discovery is heartwarming, ages 8-14 they are honing and specializing those skills which lets you start to see that they can plan a future.
I can say that 14 and up is probably challenging overall due to body/hormone changes and the increase in socialization with peers and all the trappings of teenage years.
Q: How can we get our kids excited about homeschooling?
A: Make it an adventure! Tell them what I told my students – they are educational trailblazers! They are the first generation of students to ever do this! Teachers, Governors, Senators…they are all looking at the work being done now to see what’s best if we ever have to do this again! They are making history!
Q: What is the biggest misconception about teachers, and teaching as a profession?
A: People think we stop (working) when the kids go home. The average teacher works 10-20 hours a week outside of school grading, planning, making calls, creating projects…there is no overtime, no promotion, and overall are paid horribly. Most notably, we are one of the only professions that cannot leave work once we are there for the day. Teaching – to us it’s not just “imparting knowledge” – we LOVE our students, they crawl into our hearts. We forever refer to them as OUR kids!
Q: What advice can you give parents on how to make this time easier for kids and ourselves?
A: Focus on making memories. Stop. Enjoy. Talk. Create. Look at this as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your children instead of a challenge or hurdle to “overcome.”
Q: How can we help teachers right now?
A: Let them know you appreciate their efforts and that your children miss them. Take a picture of your child doing their work and email it to them. Do the work they send to the best of your abilities – don’t have their efforts to keep up your child’s education be ignored or taken for granted.
Q: Anything else you’d like people to know?
A: This can be an especially challenging time for parents who have children with special needs. One expression I use is “Maslow before Bloom” which (in a nutshell) means basic needs (including feeling safe) have to be in place before any learning can happen. Focus on your child and what they need emotionally.