During the COVID19 crisis, where many states adopted “shelter in place” protocols, school buildings and the business of school have been shuttered.
Fair warning: I am not going to be “nice” in this post.
But I will say: we are all anxious, and our fears and anxiety manifest in different ways. I sense most folks are doing what’s best, recognizing these are challenging times, finding some joy and humor in the situation. However, some are not. Some use the excuse of their fear to lash out, make decisions that harm children, bully teachers, and try to maintain order but some insecure and false notion of concrete/sequential thinking to OBEY THE RULES when the rules don’t exist.
I just talked to my 11 year old niece, and she is in Zoom classes from 8 ’til 3 every day. 😱😱😱— Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) March 19, 2020
Focusing on Washington State, whose governor Jay Inslee has been a leader during this time. We have shuttered schools, provided timely information as best we can and responded with food service and educational resources for students. School districts are deciding on a case-by-case basis what the expectations, and my district, Auburn, enjoys a professional, functional relationship between the District and the Union. Because of this foundation of respect, care, and professionalism between the two entities, we are being provided with appropriate guidelines that meet the needs of students, families, and teachers. Teachers are humans, and there is not one of us who isn’t concerned for our students’ well-being and our own families.
But some districts and parents just want teachers to pretend that it’s business as usual and teachers must “earn their money” to some standard or expectation that even the parents don’t understand or respect. These are the parents who, I suspect, voiced loud concerns when Washington State adopted a sex education program (opt-in, I believe) and said “children should learn from their parents about this, not school.”
WELL, NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!
Now is your chance to get to know your child, like we teachers do. We know them because ‘building relationships’ is our first priority. We know when they’re sad, having a good day, have a success, pick them up from a failure, help with a growth mindset, allow risk taking, and know what their interests are. Now is your chance to dig into what your child is learning about. Now is your chance to look over online curriculum and review the Common Core Standards and be amazed at how your children’s teachers interpret, incorporate and build amazing curriculum that’s in the moment, flexible, adaptable, differentiated, accommodated, and personalized. Oh, and guess what?! You probably don’t have to do this 25 times a day, five times a day, five days a week, because most families now have 1-4 children. You can do a great job of supporting the online instruction! And if you’re one of those online and complaining, chances are you have access to the internet and a device, unlike thousands of students across the country. You don’t even have to alter this in any way, or create additional paper assignments for your child! WIN!
Okay…okay…this is starting to turn into a rant. I’ve made you angry and defensive. Let’s take a collective breath and try again.
Parents, you have more power than you may have been lead to believe. We don’t need standardized tests. We do need teachers. Reach out to your children’s teachers and let them know you’re behind them.
But most importantly, and I cannot stress this enough: stand up for your own child or children now. Advocate for them. You have legitimate concerns if you don’t think what was provided for home schooling isn’t sufficient. All of us teachers are here for you, too. We have a rare moment to make something new.
If you must adhere to a schedule, that’s fine. But please–PLEASE — do not expect your child to be busy from 8-3 every day, sitting in front of a screen. Create a schedule based on human needs, just like we teachers do. Or try to. We allow kids to go to the bathroom. We allow snacks. We allow play (or we wanted to, before state testing robbed even kindergartners of play time). We all need routines and boundaries. You know your child best. At least that’s what you said on the parent/district Facebook page. And I believe you. But now is your chance–your beautiful, amazing chance–to slow time down and get to know them for a lifetime.
Because I guarantee, they will remember what you did and said to them during this time. Make it count.