It doesn’t seem real. From a teacher’s perspective, we literally finished school only yesterday. But here we are again. Typically, this is a popular time for parents as we send our kids back to school. New clothes, shoes, backpacks and loads of paper and pencils are all part of the beloved ritual that we anticipate each year. However, for most of us things are different. This time last year we didn’t know if students would even be able to attend school. Zoom was becoming our children’s means of communication and I read more emails than I ever have in life.
This school year we get a chance to reset, to think differently, and to be grateful that schools can re-open. We have learned a lot. We have learned what works for one parent doesn’t work for another. Between all the conversation, politics and Facebook rants about education, here are some things I am going to differently this year:
- I’m going to check up on my kids’ mental health. Pre-Covid, when I asked my daughter how her day was, I was really asking about her educational experience. What did she learn? How’s math going? How did you do on your spelling test? This year I’m making sure she is mentally well. And not just my kids, yours too. I’m going to make a conscious effort to make sure my students are adjusting to the ever-changing effects of the pandemic.
- I’m going to support teachers. Yes, I am a teacher too, but I couldn’t imagine being my kids’ teachers. I know the melodramatic attitude my daughter can sometimes have. I know when my son doesn’t study for tests and plays the video game instead. So, I can only imagine a class with 20 more kids just like them. When I ask their teachers if they need anything this year and to please reach out, I’m going to mean it.
- I’m going to seek support. Family, friends, community leaders — if I need a resource, I’m not going to be afraid to ask. I can’t count how many times I would talk to other moms who gave me suggestions on how to handle parenting issues during the pandemic. From math homework tutoring to navigating new online platforms, many times I had to reach out for help. Trust me; if you don’t know something, there is always someone who does.
- I’m not going to make assumptions. This Covid year taught educators that there are plenty of inequities in every household. I cannot assume every kid has access to the things I take for granted. I also cannot assume that every household has the same set of values I have. What I can assume is that all children deserve to be loved, and that as a community, we should take accountability for our kids. Afterall, your kids will be my kids’ co-workers one day. By instilling kindness and gratitude now, we will coexist in a more supportive future.
- I’m going to be flexible. Last year took us all by surprise! No one knew what to expect or how to handle all the changes. This time around, I’m going into the school year knowing that things may not go the way I planned them and in some cases, it’s best for me not to make plans at all.