I want to preface this article by saying teachers love our jobs. Most of us love what we do. We love our students, parents, and families. Teaching has always been a challenging job, but the last couple of years have added layers of stress that none of us expected.
This is our third year teaching during the Covid pandemic.
The 2020 school year was a blur — and a lot of time at home. Last year was a lot of uncertainty, mandates, and virtual learning. This year is a mix of everything and somehow it’s harder than ever. Months ago, we discussed the difficulties teachers face, but what can we do as a community to support teachers? Many have asked, and as a teacher, I have a few suggestions. Some of these are inspired from talking with other teachers, but many of them are speaking from personal experience. I have been very fortunate to have a lot of parent support this year, and these are the things that have helped make our school year a little bit smoother.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Is your child having a rough morning at drop off? Let the teacher know. I want to know if my students are struggling at home. What can I do to help make their day smoother at school? I want to know if my students have problems with other students. How can I guide them through those social situations? I want to know what makes them happy or helps them calm down. If a student is having a bad day, context always helps. If your child is struggling, please don’t rush to badmouthing us on social media. If you have questions and concerns, communicate them directly and we’ll problem-solve together.
Drop a thank-you note.
Some of the kindest, most thoughtful gifts I have received are handwritten notes. I keep them all in a binder to remind myself of my “why” and I look through them on my hard days. When we’re knee-deep in grading papers, mandates, seating charts, and sanitizer, it’s reassuring to know you support us.
Ask, “What do you need for your classroom?” and if your teacher says nothing right now, ask again in a few months.
Parents in my room like to send Kleenex, paper towels, Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, play-doh, and extra crayons when they find them on sale. Of course, our school custodians are always sanitizing, but it’s so nice to have a little stash of wipes for the tables. There’s always a spill and the brown school paper towels only go so far. It’s a special treat when a parent sends extras, because otherwise, usually the teacher buys them instead.
Respect our time.
Teachers are exhausted. We rise early to set up our classrooms, teach all day, and come home to our own lives. Think twice before calling us at 11pm. We love you, we want to help, and we always try to accommodate, but it’s important to remember that we’re probably tucking our children in bed and being present with our family.
Be patient with us. We are on the same team.
There’s nothing we want more than a smooth, successful, calm, and happy day — every day. We do everything in our power to make sure your child feels safe and loved. Most of us have 20+ students, each with their own needs and challenges. Sometimes we’ll mess up and forget to send a paper home. Sometimes we’ll misspeak. Sometimes we miss messages. It’s probably because we have hundreds of things on our plate and we’re a little overwhelmed.