Teacher Appreciation Week is fast approaching (May 4-8th here in the United States). Usually, it is a time where teachers are shown through many different ways huge appreciation from their students and parents. This year I can’t help but think of all the parents out there who have been put in a very unique situation of having their children home during this pandemic. I am a teacher and also a mother of 3 young children so I’ve lived both sides of this throughout this unprecedented time. It’s a juggling act like no other and I know so many families are in all different walks of life and experiencing so many different hardships due to this illness.
My experience as a Kindergarten teacher during this pandemic has brought me to tears many times. Yes, for those tough moments with my kids, the worries of the outside world and just all the big uncertainties right now in our world, but I have also been brought to good tears. Those tears are true and utter appreciation and gratitude at its finest when I sit and think about the parents of the students in my classroom. With teaching a younger group of students I have to heavily rely on parent support and connection in order to do my job during this time at home.
My parents have done such a fabulous job and here’s why. It isn’t so much the math worksheet or writing prompt they did with their child. I am happy they are participating in completing work from our remote learning planner, but it really isn’t the true reason for my appreciation for them. The recognition they deserve is because…
They wake up every day in an uncertain world and keep pushing through juggling jobs, unemployment, sickness, worry and still put a smile on their face for their children.
They keep their only child entertained or juggle dealing with entertaining multiple children at different ages.
They keep up with the communication between myself and their child’s peers in the classroom with pictures and videos of what they have been up to.
They spend time outside doing sidewalk chalk, bike riding, and walks with their children.
They stay connected to our classroom through zoom meetings, messages, and send handwritten letters by their children.
They have turned their dining room tables into a craft, experiment, or building table.
They teach life skills like cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, and painting.
They give countless hugs or stop everything and just watch movies for the days when that is needed.
They coordinate birthday car parades for their children so their children feel loved in an isolated time.
They teach their children that difficult times may come in their lives but you can and will adapt and make the best of those difficult moments.
One of the difficult aspects of being a parent is seeing what others may be doing and comparing or thinking I can do more. You may find yourself asking the question of what should I be doing differently? I have heard it first hand from so many parents feeling bad or guilty. I know I have also thought this during my parenting years many times before. It is hard not to feel like you are doing enough with your child especially during a time like this where so much is on social media bombarding you with so many things to do. Districts all seem to be different based on mandates and it’s almost impossible to not question if you are doing too little. There is never too little during times like these. It isn’t always about sticking to the schedule and pushing through. Kids are grieving the loss of seeing friends and family, sports, school, special events, etc. Some days it will just be movie days and others will be filled with more but at the end of each day, you have done enough.
This is a time like no other and I can’t thank my parents enough. I know first hand how hard it is being a teacher and having students at many different levels coming into your classroom. The complexities of what parents are facing right now are abundant. They are either sorting through multiple aged children, their developmental needs, and different academic content with little or no professional experience in it. They are doing this all while being in a home environment where distractions are high. It is extremely difficult and can sometimes make you feel defeated. Please know from the bottom of my heart you are seen and you are appreciated. THANK YOU.
Love to all families during this difficult time. Stay safe & healthy.
Valerie Sousa is currently a Kindergarten Teacher in Massachusetts. She has taught Kindergarten for 10 years. She is a wife and mother of 3 young children. This summer her first children’s book through EduMatch publishing titled “Coding to Kindness” will be coming out. This is an interactive book where children use basic coding skills to code the characters in the story back to Kindness. Visit www.valeriesousaauthor.com for more information on the book and blog posts. You can follow her on twitter @ValerieSousa7.