Urgent Message From a Teacher to Parents as the School Year Begins

Everyone needs space.

That’s the single most powerful message parents need to hear at this moment, as we begin this re-entry to hybrid learning.

Please. Let’s take a deep breath and give everyone a chance. It will not all be done well in week one or two.

School will not be done well in a few weeks. Everyone needs space. (Twenty20 @ljbs)

Kids first. They need room to not know what they are feeling. When your child walks into the house after the first day, or the second or the third, and you ask with all the positive energy you can muster, “How did it go?”, your child’s response will in all likelihood be extraordinarily lacking in details and maybe even emotion.

Do you remember the beginning of online learning this spring? Do you remember how we started this whole mess? It was the equivalent of rolling out of bed in a disheveled state and walking into a really important meeting before realizing you hadn’t changed out of pajamas or brushed your hair or brought your paperwork. We were flying blind, we were in shock, and we did not understand the new reality that was rolling over everything familiar we’d ever known.

This is like that. Our kids are going to be overwhelmed and disappointed and in a state of uncertainty, maybe even disarray. Again.

School rules your teen may be asked to follow

The only sure bets they can count on are not what they or we want to hear:

  • You will enter the building through a new entrance with your mask on for at least the next 3 hours.
  • There are restrictions on when you can use the bathroom.
  • There are arrows on the floor you must follow when you walk in single file, like you did when you were six. You cannot walk next to your friend in the hallway.
  • If your friend is talking behind you or in front of you, you won’t be able to hear what she says because of the mask.
  • There will be classes during the day that have 11 people in them.
  • There will be classes during the day that may only have 5 people in them. You may not like anyone in the room. You will be carrying a really heavy bag. All day. And a coat when it’s cold.
  • You will have a hard time hearing what your teacher is saying sometimes.
  • You will break a pencil and not be able to sharpen it.
  • You can no longer work with a partner in person.
  • You will no longer get to sit up close to get individualized support from your teacher.
  • You will have to ask to take your mask off to take a drink when you are thirsty.
  • You will be very, very happy when it’s recess and can go outside and take a mask break.

Your teen’s teachers are working hard to make this successful

  • Your kids’ teachers. They need room to try, succeed on some things, fail on others, and readjust. They do not need your feedback in the first few weeks.
  • They need space to figure out how to meet the academic and emotional needs of ALL the students for whom they are responsible. Your child is one of them. The only things they can count on are not necessarily what you or they want to hear.
  • They are all first year teachers. Seriously. Picture that. You are sending your child into a building with a staff of first year teachers.
  • Nothing they’ve planned or taught in their 5, 10, 20 years of teaching can be used in its current form. Everything needs to be redone.
  • They have students with serious learning needs, serious emotional needs, with a history of having already struggled with remote learning, organization, socialization, and executive functioning.
  • They have already received lists of who to be most worried about.
  • Depending on their district requirements, they either can or cannot teach the way they believe will be most effective.
  • They will have too much work to do for it to be done in one day.
  • They will have too many emails to answer for it to be done in one day.
  • They are really worried about the well-being of the kids who are at home all the time.
  • They are really worried about the well-being of the kids who are in front of them in the classroom.
  • They are really worried about parents criticizing them too quickly while they are still trying to figure it out.
  • They are really worried about their own families.
  • They are really worried about getting sick.
  • They want to do this well.

Let’s remember the spring and that this is not that. We are not flying as blind. We know what COVID is and we know that what we all experienced in the last few months of the last school year was inadequate.

We all want the same thing. We want our kids to learn. We want our kids to be happy. Teachers and parents share that as their fundamental hope and are going to do everything they can tomake it happen.

Give them space.

More to Read

A Love Letter From All of Us to Our Kids’ Teachers

Parents, Now Is the Perfect Time to Extend Grace to Your Returning Students

About Leslie Cohen

Leslie Cohen is a teacher and the mother of two college age sons, 18 and 21. As a consultant, she offers workshops for parents about how to highlight literacy when raising children in this technology-driven age. She enjoys sharing what she has learned in her 30 years as a teacher and 21 years as a mom. Currently, she teaches reading and writing in a Westchester County middle school, just north of New York City.

Read more posts by Leslie

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.