Leadership / 11.10.20
How INTIX Members Are Dealing With Home Schooling in the Pandemic Era
Since mid-March, many members of the International Ticketing Association (INTIX) have been doing their jobs from a home office. Many of them have also had to manage kids who are learning remotely. So, in addition to being a ticketing professional, suddenly many of us are also having to be a tutor, guidance counselor and/or hall monitor.
Just ask INTIX Chair Anthony Esposito, Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Atlanta Braves. He has four daughters, three of them school-age and the fourth a preschooler. When distance learning first started back in the spring, he says, “I quickly became the IT support guy. If my kids had any issues getting on their Zooms or if they needed to have anything set up for their Zoom classes like a background, I helped with that. Also, whenever there were connection issues, I could help troubleshoot that. My three older daughters are back in school now, but we’re still set up so that if there is a situation where they have to return to home [learning], we’re ready.”
How INTIX professionals are dealing with both working from home and schooling from home depends a lot on the ages of their kids and how many kids they have. Alison Barry, Director of Guest Experience & Sales at Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, New York, has a college-age daughter and a son who is a senior in high school.
“Kate is back on campus now, and Pete is doing a hybrid model,” she says. “In the spring, the challenge was definitely having to share both the physical space and the Wi-Fi in our home. My husband was also working from home, and we were all stepping on each other. Zoom was freezing up, arguments about ‘Who ate the leftovers?’ were occurring and the dog was going ballistic over the mailman. Some days felt like bedlam. I kept moving my workspace further and further away from the crowd until I ended up on our porch. We can laugh about it now, but it was stressful.”
We spoke with Nick Begley, Senior Marketing Manager at AudienceView, back in June about how he was entertaining his two elementary school-age children during the summer months with no school. He and his wife have since welcomed a baby girl, Delaney Shea. Now that the school year is in full swing, both of his older kids are fully virtual for at least the first half of the year. The Begley family’s school district had offered a hybrid option — two days classroom learning and three days virtual — but they chose to go 100% virtual due to the addition of the newborn.
“We wanted to limit the number of germs entering our house so that our older kids could fully enjoy interacting with and spending time with their new baby sister,” he says. “Generally speaking, remote learning has been going very well for us. My daughter, Camryn, is in kindergarten and adjusted very quickly to virtual learning. She’s mastered the technology — learning to mute and un-mute seamlessly. Better than some adults I know!”
He continues, “My son, Landon, is in third grade and has also adjusted well to full virtual learning. I was really impressed with how quickly he learned to use Seesaw, their new digital portfolio tool, to document his work and collaborate with his teachers. The platform allows him to share his work by submitting written assignments, videos, photos, audio messages and more. I also find it funny that both of my kids refer to their class sessions as ‘calls,’ which is a product of having a dad that has been working remotely and spending time on conference calls for 10 years.”
We also interviewed Jason Mastrine, Patron Technology’s Vice President of Business Development, for that same two-part article series this past June. He is the father of three: Julian (17), Beck (13) and Piper (11). He has been both home-schooling and doing the “single dad thing” with the kids’ mom away handling a family medical situation.
“Last year, I traveled 100+ days. This year, not so much,” he says. “And with the parental responsibilities now at full throttle, the idea of ‘work hours’ has pretty much gone out the window. Imagine throwing all your work, parent and family leader responsibilities into a blender then evenly spreading them out over the course of a full day. That’s pretty much how it looks now, but it’s working. Even if it means I’m prepping an Instant Pot dinner while taking a Zoom call.”
For Paciolan’s Julie Porter Cardenas and her husband, who’s also a ticketing professional at TicketsWest, working from home and home schooling their first-grader, Lola, has been all about strategizing. “Every night, he and I review and compare our schedules for the next day and say, ‘OK, you have to sit with her for this Zoom. And I have to get her lunch.’ We’re super agile about it. It’s not nearly as hard as it was in the beginning. Early on, I had doubts we were going to be able to sustain two full-time jobs and a distance learner. But it’s been more than doable.”
All five interviewed for this article acknowledged that 2020’s work and school reality certainly has had its negatives, but they’ve found some positives, as well. Most agreed that the biggest benefit has been spending more time together as a family.
Some have even gotten grandparents involved. Esposito’s father is a retired New York state educator, who worked for the school system for over three decades. In that time, he was a math teacher, a guidance counselor and an elementary school principal. “He and my mom take our 4-year-old four days a week for about three hours a day and do preschool with her,” he says. “We have a full in-law suite in the basement. And they come upstairs every morning at 10 a.m., act like they’re the school bus, and they come pick up her and bring her downstairs. They do schoolwork with her, have lunch with her. She looks forward to it a lot, and she’s getting one-on-one attention.”
Begley, meanwhile, says that one of the biggest positives of virtual learning has been what he calls the “forced independence.” Of his two kids in at-home school, he says, “We purposely didn’t baby them by keeping track of their schedule or learning their technology. We challenged them to own it and their path to success. I’ve also been very happy with how my kids have supported each other. That comes in the form of my older son troubleshooting technology issues for my daughter or giving reminders to each other when their next session is about to start.”
Nick Begley's three children.
Mastrine, meanwhile, doffs his chef’s cap to the pandemic. “I get to cook for my kids every day!” he says.
Those interviewed also had words of wisdom for anyone reading this who is having a tough time balancing a remote career and remote schooling. Defined workspaces were cited by most as a must, along with the importance of getting your kids some recreation and fresh air every day.
Aside from that, don’t underestimate the value of the occasional “carrot stick.” Cardenas says, “We don’t bribe. But, sometimes, there just has to be a reward. Lola wasn’t digging the amount of Zooms she had that first week. And I told her, ‘Baby, I know this isn’t the most fun you’ve ever had. But it’s not going to be the least fun you’re ever going to have either. But I tell you what. Let’s get through this whole week. And, on Friday, if we’ve checked off all the boxes of must-dos then you can have a banana split for dinner.’ She couldn’t believe it!”
Lola, Julie Porter Cardenas' daughter, attends class at her remote workspace.
Barry, meanwhile, urges a higher level of self-care. “Fight the urge to work outside of your regular hours,” she says. “I know our industry has always kept unusual hours to begin with but close your laptop each day and fight the urge to open it again until the next workday. In fact, everyone in the house needs some time away from technology to recharge.”
Finally, Mastrine champions making it a team effort. “Everyone pitches in,” he says of his household. “If the kids see a trash can that needs emptied, they empty it. If dishes are in the sink, they put them in the dishwasher. That kind of participation has been key to our success so that Dad doesn’t feel like he’s a slave to his own children. They’ve also become really good at making me a Jameson on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon. Joking … just joking!”
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Tags: Memberships , Leadership , COVID-19 , Coronavirus