There are so many emotions heading into this school year—from anxiety and fear to hope and joy. As parents, many of us have faced hard choices about whether to enroll kids in-person or remotely. We may be trying to figure out last-minute childcare plans. Buying masks as part of back-to-school shopping is unnerving. And we’ve all heard that teachers are (rightfully so) concerned about their safety if they are returning to the classroom. But what else are they thinking about as they prep for an upcoming school year that will be like no other? We asked two veteran teachers, 5th grade reading teacher Amanda Schmidt of Fairfield, CT, and 2nd grade teacher Pablo Pitcher DeProto of Oakland, CA (both parents themselves) about what they want parents to know.Here’s what Schmidt, who will be teaching in-person in a hybrid model, and Pitcher DeProto, who will be teaching remotely and serving as the Tech and Distance Learning lead for two schools, had to say:
They Want to Be in the Classroom
Remote or hybrid models aren’t ideal from anyone’s perspective, and teachers want what we all want—for schools to open, safely. “As we enter into this school year I want parents to know (from a teacher’s perspective) that there is nowhere we would rather be than in the classroom with their children,” says Schmidt, a mom of three. “Their social and emotional well-being along with their safety is just as important if not more so than their academic growth,” she adds.
Teachers Want to Partner with You
“We are all going to be working together and it’s okay to think that it [stinks]…and its okay to make suggestions or decide something isn’t working for your family,” says Pitcher DeProto, a dad of two. He adds: “It’s also okay to ask for help.” Coming together as a team—parents, teacher, student and community—is going to help us all have the best year possible.
This Year Will Involve Growing Pains for Everyone
Just as parents and kids are adjusting, so are teachers. “While I have been teaching for a while I have never taught like this before during a pandemic and in a hybrid method (which Fairfield is using). Be patient and flexible. This is new for us all,” says Schmidt.
Consider Creating a Schedule
Pitcher DeProto says that creating a plan can help everyone stay on track and avoid fighting, particularly if you’re helping kids work remotely. “No schedule equals more arguments. My kids have a schedule and I recommend to my families to have a schedule,” says Pitcher DeProto. He suggests having kids give input and figuring out the schedule as a family.
Your Kids Will Benefit If You Project Confidence
If you display nothing but fear about the upcoming year (even in conversations with other adults) your kids will internalize that. “Give your children time to adapt and get used to this new normal; expect them to have big feelings and be there for them whatever those feelings may be and however they come out,” suggests Schmidt.
Keep Your Kids’ Schedules Simple
There will be lots of changes, so keep the rest of their routine relatively lowkey. “Find time for them to unwind and relax—this is not the school year to push lots of extra activities,” says Schmidt. She adds that parents should “Focus on your child’s social and emotional health this year.”
Remember, They’re Also Teaching Or Caring For Kids At Home
Like all working parents, teachers have layers of responsibility weighing on them right now. As you help your kids adjust, know that many of the teachers in your lives are helping their own crew adjust—not only in class but at home. “Many of us have families of our own at home and it is all a great big balancing act,” says Schmidt.
Know that Even Teachers Aren’t Perfect
Anyone else wonder how teachers never seem to lose their cool and are probably Super Parents themselves? Spoiler alert: They do and they aren’t. “Take a breath and know that you, as a parent, are doing an awesome job. I’ve lost my cool during these months. I’ve let my frustration spring up,” says DeProto Pitcher. “My kids have seen it, but we make sure to talk through it.”