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Challenge: Back to School 2020

The Teachers Are Working Extra Hard So Let's Love Them Extra Hard

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Today I received an email from the online director for our school district. The email talked about the challenges they have faced in the first week of online school and the ways they are trying to remedy the problems.

In the email, it was mentioned that they have received a number of emails from parents describing a variety of issues they are experiencing.

As I read this email detailing the things they will be working on and the ways they are addressing these issues, my heart was overwhelmed with compassion for these people.

Can you imagine how hard this must be for them?

Yes, as parents it's frustrating when the online programs aren't working, or when our children can't reach their teacher, or when we receive a message that Zoom is for internal use only - but can you imagine the stress they must be facing on the other side of this?

Our school district did not have online learning set up for the children attending schools in a traditional sense. Over the past few months, they have had to develop systems and strategies for teaching every child in our school district both online, and in the buildings, in the safest way possible.

The teachers are learning new programs, and many of them are teaching some classes both in person and remotely.

The IT people, administrators, teachers, teachers aids, substitutes - all of them. They all are working incredibly hard for our children and families.

So here is my plea, let's cut them some slack.

Today, after reading the email, I wrote a response of gratitude. I thanked the director for her hard work and acknowledged how hard it must be. I am not saying that to pat myself on the back, but because I feel like this is so important right now.

We have to support our educators during this challenging time as best as we are able.

It feels like this is one great experiment. We are sending our kids, and the teachers, into these buildings and we aren't really sure what the outcome will be. Some of these teachers may literally be putting their lives on the line when they step into those buildings with our children. And we all know teachers don't make much. I was a preschool teacher in a great building that paid well as far as teachers go, but trust me - it still wasn't much.

I get it. It's frustrating. We are tired. We want normalcy. We wish this school year looked like all of the other years before, but the reality is - it doesn't. And it may not for awhile.

Just like it's the first time we've started school during a pandemic; this is the first time these teachers have taught kids during a pandemic.

Does this mean we stop advocating for our children? Absolutely not. Does this mean we don't send an email when our Chromebooks aren't working? Or when we've been kicked off of Zoom again? Nope. We need to communicate our issues and concerns so that the system can continue to work to improve and meet the needs of their students and staff. Our voices are important.

And so is our tone. So is the way we approach the issues and problems. We have a wonderful opportunity to teach our children how to respond to challenging times and how to troubleshoot when problems arise on a daily basis. Let's use this opportunity to teach them how to rise above. Let's not bad-mouth the teachers or the administration. Let's not become catty on social media platforms. Let's be kind. Let's be supportive of one another.

What if for every email, or message of concern we sent, we sent two or more messages of gratitude to those who are working so hard right now for our children?

I seriously can't imagine what it must be like to walk in the educators' shoes right now. I can't imagine how many messages they receive about things not working properly. What if for every message they had of concern, they had more messages lifting them up?

As parents, we want what is best for our children. We want them to thrive and to learn in an enriching environment. I believe part of creating that environment is helping to build it up. We don't want our educators and staff burnt out, stressed out and worn down. They are carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders.

Parents, let's help to lift that weight. Let's not make a hard situation harder.

This is our moment to shine. And our children are watching.

Truly Yours, Jen

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