It is time to go back to school. It is no secret that the hustle and bustle looks different this year. We saw it coming – but did not want to believe it.
Picking out the cool new backpack quickly turned into finding a mask our kids could be proud of. Setting up school supplies went from covering books and packing backpacks to also finding a working computer or tablet. We began readjusting our home to feel like school.
Is this chair comfortable enough? Is there enough space for the computer AND their notebooks? What if we can’t get logged on to class or our interest fails?
Will the camera work? Will the microphone work? Will they even pay attention?
A thousand more questions to be answered all while navigating our own thoughts and emotions as parents and caregivers. We are grieving. Grieving the first day drop-off for our brand-new kindergartner because we aren’t allowed in the building. Grieving the loss of personal time because virtual learning is done in the home. Grieving the normalcy that once was. Sadness, anger, disappointment, and grief. Emotions that crash like waves and send us drowning.
This has been a tough transition into something brand new and out of our comfort zones – so what about our educators?
It is easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and feelings because we own them. I challenge you to shift your perspective and think about our educators; after all, they are grieving too.
Students were robbed of seeing their friends in the halls while teachers who had classrooms full of chatter shifted from full desks to tiny squares on a screen. No graduation celebration for students they have watched grow from smiling children to successful young adults. No yearbook signings, field days, or sports finales. It may not be our first thought, but these events mean so much to the educators cheering our students on every single day.
Fast forward to now.
Back to school is a time when educators are excited to be decorating their classrooms and cannot wait to begin teaching a new group of students. However, this time it is different.
Teachers are figuring out how to connect through a screen. They are working and learning every day to be the best they can for our students – all while grieving what they once had.
Teachers are not able to see smiling faces behind the masks. They deal with the big emotions our kids are feeling because of what they lost and once knew so well. They work through technological difficulties and tired eyes and brains.
Yet, they show up. They show up for kids and families and put their own feelings aside. They smile, they dance, they get excited and they are finding ways to make school the best it can be.
They support our students. It is our turn to support them.
Here are some practical ways to show support for the educators in your life:
Have conversations with kids about online and in-person classroom etiquette. Teaching kids how to be respectful is so important. We know this looks different virtually. We can help our teachers by talking to our children about what is expected when they are in school, even if it is at home.
Be patient with teachers. Technology can be challenging and may take some time to navigate and issues may arise. Be patient – this is new to all of us!
Say thank you. An email, note, or phone call can go a long way. Find ways to show your child’s teacher some appreciation. Remember, this is hard on them, too!
At the end of the day we are all doing the best we can. We are all being challenged by the circumstances in our world today. We hear you. We see you. We support you. We thank you.
At Erin’s House, we strive to support our community of students and educators. If you are in need of resources, education/training or support, please reach out to us to inquire about our Classroom Companions: In-School Program.
Written by: Kathryn McLaughlin MS.Ed, LMHCA | Special Programs Coordinator & Child Grief Specialist