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CK JUNE 2020 What Teachers and Parents Taught Kids Through the Pandemic
As regulations from this pandemic finally ease up, there are other changes happening. Teachers (and parents) are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. In March, when all schools sent kids home (for what we guessed would be the last time for the year) both parents and teachers were immediately put into new positions. Suddenly forced to alter everything they did on a daily basis, all in the name of Coronavirus, school went virtual, parents were no longer just assisting with a few math problems or homework assignments, teachers weren’t just teachers anymore but became full-time work from home parents.
I’ve homeschooled while working from home (and outside of) and it’s not simple. It takes planning and practice, which we all know wasn’t possible. Combine these new roles of parents and educators with the stress of being restricted on how they spend their free time, makes it more stressful. Add how students have their own challenges of social limitations on top of all of that, causes an even bigger problem. We haven’t even touched on how the fact that any amount of technological complications or comprehension issues can make it a nightmare for some, making it feel impossible to do.
Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, or a full-time parent, but I believe strongly that everyone can be an inspiration. I realize the past couple of months has been grueling for some, but I’ve also seen so much I feel parents and educators everywhere should be proud of. First off, if there was a time when there was support for kids when they needed it the most, it has been during this pandemic. Governments kept kids home (which we know the government and educational institutions themselves rarely promote) for their health. The school leaders offered assistance with food distribution, tech supplies and additional assistance in learning. Teachers took it upon themselves to celebrate accomplishments by conducting physical distance visits to their students! Parents stepped up to school their kids when homeschool was never part of their planned lifestyle.
We must recognize, that even though as most might be sharing the memes of mom’s and teachers cracking open the wine on the last day of school to say “AMEN, Hell as we know it is OVER”, I have to say, “Yay for you! YOU DID IT!”. You got through it. At a time when children needed the most support of their lives, you all stepped into the shoes that many of you thought you would never be able to do. You didn’t say, “Forget this” and throw your hands up claiming it was impossible (even though I know some wanted to). Instead, you showed the kids that you would do at the very least, your very best. And you made it through! Principals kept leading, teachers kept teaching. Parents sucked it up and put their big boy or girl pants on, students all over the nation likely breathed a sigh of relief that they weren’t in this alone and that they were loved.
Maybe your family came together, maybe it grew apart. Maybe you hate your child’s teacher now, maybe you love them. Maybe you’re really tired as a teacher and wish nothing after this is over but to switch careers. Wherever you stand at the end of this school year, know that you weren’t alone. You did it! And today, when the last day of school or the next morning comes, look in the mirror and tell yourself you did a good job. Then tell your student they did a good job too. There was nothing perfect or ideal about the last couple of months, and moving forward it looks a little strange too, but look around you…you made it; you had help and you were of help. You were forced into stepping up and taking on a whole new way of helping a child, and you didn’t let that child (or children) down. Kudos to you and kudos to those kids who are grateful not to be left on their own.
Think for a second about what we are as a parent. We don’t often call ourselves a teacher, do we? We teach every day though. But, because many of us don’t hold the career title “Teacher” we don’t generally think of ourselves as one. But we are. We are guiding our children daily on life skills, behavior and attitude. If you were educating a student at home or virtually this year, you were showing children how to be adaptive, learn a new skill and maybe perfect others. You were teaching your student or child patience, strength, perseverance, you were demonstrating you weren’t perfect but that you had a no quit attitude all for their benefit. If there is any year for students to feel at front and center, cared about, valued and supported it’s this year.
I don’t care if you feel your school’s tools weren’t perfect, your parenting at home wasn’t perfect, your own skills weren’t perfect or your students weren’t perfect, you all did a great job! You dealt best with what you were handed, all the while juggling your own new-to-you pandemic lifestyle. For that, give yourself a big round of applause. It’s over for now. But it should never be forgotten, no matter how much it might have sucked. It’s a testament to how much children mean to you and for that I’m grateful.
If we can teach children one thing, ever, it should be to never quit because something is hard. Never give up because of failure, not knowing something or being discouraged. That is the precise time they (and we) should not throw in the towel, but put those big boy or girl pants on, suck it up and press on.
I know I often talk about the military since my youngest daughter just went through training to become a combat medic, but it’s because I find that going through that journey with her was an eye opening one with a ton of lessons to share. First, we learned to hurry up and wait. “What does that mean?”, said no soldier or military family ever. The military has their own timeline, their own style and their own way of communication. It is what it is, we just show up ready, and wait, or else. Things for a military family are constantly changing, can be inconsistent and can be (surprise) challenging. We just deal with it; accept it and then adjust accordingly. Second, we learned to #Embracethesuck. Yes, ma’am or sir, that is actually a phrase and probably should be #1 on the list, they were both relevant and apparent very early on. Third, and definitely not least, we learned to push ourselves to go beyond limits we originally thought were impossible.
Just before my youngest daughter, Tatum, left for BCT last June, she got a timely fortune cookie. We keep these, yes, Mom is kind of a pack rat (stems from a childhood with very few photographic memories/memorabilia). So, sometime after she left, my family and I went to Chinese dinner and we all chose our fortune cookies (if you know us, you know that 99.9% of the time all five of us each get a spot-on fortune. (The other reason I save them). Mine was last to be opened and I nearly fainted. I gasped so loud that by the way my whole family turned to look at me they must’ve thought I’d found a bug inside mine. I’d gotten the same fortune as my daughter did before she left! I was so certain it was the same one that I ran upstairs as soon as we got home to compare them (she kept hers on her dresser as a message of encouragement before leaping into the unknown). Sure enough, we got the same message! I was struggling with how different it was to ship off a young 17-year-old girl to the military opposed to sending off my oldest to college. I just knew I had to hold on, pull up those bootstraps and hang on. It was a bumpy ride. I’ve been waiting a long time (approximately a year) to share this story because it’s so unbelievable. I don’t know about you, but for all the decades we’ve been eating Chinese food, not one of us has gotten the same fortune, even if I bought a whole bag, none have ever been the same. Nor has anyone gotten the same one as someone else once had (I would know this, because remember, I saved them all lol).
There are times in life when we just don’t think we have it in us to go one more step. We feel like we’ve run out of steam and can’t see the end in sight…like there is no possible way to make something work because we don’t know what we’re doing. All we seem to think about is our weaknesses and what we lack. Let me tell you, the military has taught us (even more than we suspected) when quitting isn’t an option (like educating students this spring wasn’t) it’s imperative to have a can-do attitude and a will to press on. Push yourself just a little more and don’t quit. It might have felt almost impossible, but you did it, you weren’t alone, and you taught kids some valuable lessons. (Any parents think they’re ready to become teachers now? Just kidding…but maybe you are!)
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