'I'm Only 1 Person': Teachers Feel Torn Between Their Students And Their Own Kids


September 21, 2020

Patricia Stamper, with her 5-year-old son, works with children who have cognitive and physical disabilities at an elementary school in Washington, D.C. Jared Soares for NPR

I catch Patricia Stamper with a Zoom meeting going in the background and a child at her knee asking for attention. Stamper works as a teacher's assistant for special education students in the Washington, D.C., public schools.

These days, her virtual classroom is at home - and so is her toddler, who has a genetic disorder called Noonan syndrome, and her kindergartner, who receives speech therapy. Her husband works outside the home at a golf course.

Stamper says her older son can't sit still for three to four hours a day of screen-based learning. The other day, while she was working, he started acting up, imitating his favorite YouTube star. Soon the teacher was texting her - her son was nearly kicked out of virtual class. "It's hard to check him," she says. "I'm trying to do my job and, you know, bounce back and forth, but I'm only one person."



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