Painful, Necessary Work
This month marks a full year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Many, myself included, never would have predicted that this virus would still be a topic of international concern today.
Yet here we are, more than halfway through a new school year with parents like me still struggling with Common Core math standards. Teachers now must instruct children and the adults who sit in as their educational proxies. My older daughter, who teaches grade school (currently second grade), said the biggest challenge has been trying to familiarize parents and grandparents with the technology. To further complicate things, her school has adopted a hybrid standard in which both in-person and virtual options exist. Two models, one instructor.
In “How Hybrid Learning Is (and Is Not) Working During COVID-19: 6 Case Studies,” Education Week said in late 2020 that nearly two-thirds of school districts were using a hybrid model. Among teachers interviewed, the general sentiment was: We’re excited by the options, exhausted by the work involved, and uneasy about the effectiveness, specifically in terms of keeping students engaged and monitoring progress. “Efforts to transform an American education model that hasn’t been comprehensively updated in generations are happening at a breakneck pace….It’s painful and necessary work,” the article said. Amen to that!
Americans seem reluctant to discuss parents’ role in nontraditional learning. Many parents believe at-home learning isn’t real school and take a lackadaisical approach to due dates, assignment requirements, and disciplinary actions. I believe their mentality stems from the reality that they also are being called to task.
“Parents have…taken to social media to complain about the unrealistic expectations placed on their children, as well as the demands placed on them,” writes Parents magazine. Complaints (baseless, in my view) include grades…marked down for tardiness, absence, or missing assignments. Other criticisms include “requirements to sit in front of a screen for six hours a day.”
Uh, my bonus children—a ten-year-old son and a twelve-year-old daughter—could tune out for twelve hours-plus were it not for hunger, thirst, restroom breaks, and their father and me nagging them to log off their devices. While language arts isn’t TikTok, six-hour school days are fine.
My family is blessed to have a teacher in the family who is gracious enough to help her young siblings. My job is to instill in them an understanding that any form of school is real school. Adults must support, respect, and empathize with teachers. Teacher appreciation week is the first full week of May. Parents today have been graced with the chance to walk a mile in a teacher’s shoes. Let’s celebrate them today and in May!