As parents, we’ve all been affected by the year 2020. The pandemic, racial injustice protests, switching to virtual learning and social distancing are all major events that have left our families with new perspectives. Chatbooks co-founder Vanessa Quigley sits down with LaNesha Tabb, a mother, author and educator, to talk about her experience with virtual learning as well as creating a social studies curriculum to inform more young children about historical events. LaNesha stops by the Momforce Podcast to share her expertise on diversity and having important conversations to “disrupt the default.”
How have you handled virtual learning with your own kids and how would you advise other parents trying to decide what is best for their children?
I definitely don't think there's a right way to do it. So to answer this, I'm coming from a place where I teach in a school. I was going to be going back face-to-face and I was very nervous about that. And then the day before school started, we had an explosion of families that wanted to go virtual and they needed another teacher. That same day, they asked if I would flip to virtual. And I said yes. So I'm teaching 40 kindergarteners everyday, virtually. It was a bumpy start, but we got it together.
But then on the other hand, like I said, I've got two children. I've got a kindergartener and a second grader. It was a very, very stressful time, as I'm sure it is for all the moms out there. I didn't know if I was going to resign because I was terrified to go back to work face-to-face. But if I was going to resign, what was I going to do with my children? I'm a believer and I'm a Christian and I literally just had to ball this whole thing up and take it one day at a time, give it to God and tell myself, “I'm going to move forward with what I feel like is best.” And that's literally what I've been doing. It's been one day at a time.
What are some things we can do to support teachers right now?
Helping your kids find a quiet space is really important for their virtual learning and it will help the teachers to have more focus in their virtual classroom. Also, it's all about having grace on both sides, right? I spent my first two weeks as a virtual teacher, but I was literally a customer service rep. I had a headset and it was around the clock emails and responding. I would get parents that might have been a little snippy or frustrated because they're at home and stressed, too. And so I would say have grace as much as you can. Talk to the teacher, if there is an issue. Please stop snapping things and putting them on social media for people.
You’re also an author and racial justice advocate. How can we start having more of these important conversations at home?
Really that question is, is it's been two parts, right? Because if you're a child of color or a black child, you don't need that lesson. You will know from day one what culture is. White culture in the United States is the dominant culture. Your kids hop on Netflix, scroll through movies, and almost 95% of them feature white characters and all white casts.
It's tricky as a white parent. I can see how difficult that is because you're going to have to constantly go out of your way to represent. So I'm thinking, what books do you have at home? Do all of the characters in those books look exactly like you and your children? What toys are they playing with? What TV shows are they watching? What do their friend circles look like? What does the neighborhood that you live in look like? You've got to disrupt that. So we always say: disrupt the default.
If you want to hear more about plant-based eating and our conversation with Earthy Andy, check out her episode on The Momforce Podcast!