What Your Child’s Teacher Needs This School Year

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Imagine you have a career that you love. Perhaps you have even dreamed of having this career your whole life. You spent time role playing for it as a child. In high school, you participated in clubs and volunteered so that you would be prepared for learning more about it in college. You went to college for four years (or more!) and received a degree that probably put you in a lot of debt to do something that does not pay much money, but is something you feel like you were meant to do.

Now you have a job doing the thing that you earned a degree for; you do the job for many more hours than 40 a week. There are countless sleepless nights worrying about those you spend your days with. There are calls to make, emails to answer – all on your own time, because most days, there is not enough time to even go to the bathroom when you are at work. You spend a lot of your hard earned money on supplies for work, because if you don’t, you just won’t have the things you need – including basics like writing utensils and paper. 

You LOVE what you do. You CARE about what you do. Then … there is a pandemic.

You have to work from home. You are doing the BEST you can with a situation you were not prepared for. You spend more money; you lose MORE sleep because you are not seeing the people that you spend your days with and you are worried about them.

A few months go by and it is time to go back to your office. Are you excited? Are you ready? Do you have support?

No. You are a teacher.

The school year is starting, and it’s gonna be a tough one. You read comments from parents like, “Other essential employees have been working this entire time,” “I better not see my child’s teacher getting nails done during a virtual teaching day,” and “I have to get back to work, teachers need to get back to work too!”

Children have not been in a school building since the pandemic began in March. Do you know that teachers have to go back to buildings where social distancing may be impossible? They will be in rooms with 20+ children for almost seven hours a day. They may have health issues that put them at risk, they may have people at home that they care for who are high risk. But, they must report back to their classrooms in a couple of weeks. And they need your support. 

Here are some things your child’s teacher needs this school year:

  • GRACE – Teaching during a pandemic is not something covered in teacher education programs. School districts have conducted a lot of training during this time, but please know that this will be a huge adjustment for everyone – teachers and students.
  • Be consistent and supportive.
  • If you are given materials from school to help facilitate learning, please take good care of those materials. These will be supplies purchased for the school that are typically used in the classroom. They will need to be returned with all of its pieces and parts.
  • Make school time a priority and create a schedule.
  • Attitudes are contagious. If you are upbeat and positive about school (at least in front of your children) and all the differences this year, your children will be too. 
  • If you have a question, email your child’s teacher. Do not post the question on social media.
  • When you contact your child’s teacher after 3:30 p.m., do not expect an answer until the next day. Many teachers check their email around the clock and will respond if it is urgent. But, do not forget that your child’s teacher may also have children and family to take care of.
  • Be flexible.
  • Do not complain about school supplies.
  • Send notes every now and then telling your child’s teacher they matter and that they are doing a good job.
  • Trust and respect your child’s teacher.
  • See if your child’s teacher has an Amazon Wish List and order items from the list. Do this at the beginning of the school year, but then again throughout the year as more supplies are needed. 

This school year will be different for everyone. If we can all breath and be respectful and supportive of one another, we can make it a great school year. 

What would you add to this list?

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Valerie Byrd Fort was born in Florida, but when she was four years old, her family moved to the midlands and never looked back. She is mom to Katy (human) and to Lucky, Mozzy, and Penny (rescue dogs). She is married to Marty Fort, owner of the Lexington School of Music, Columbia Arts Academy, and Irmo Music Academy. She is an Instructor for the School of Library & Information Science at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches Children’s Literature to future classroom teachers and librarians. She is also Coordinator for Cocky's Reading Express, the University of South Carolina's literacy outreach program. Valerie is passionate about books, literacy, libraries, and reading aloud with children of ALL ages. She writes about books and other literacy related topics on her blog, Library Goddess. In her free time, Valerie enjoys reading, Barre3, going to Target and endless scrolling of social media  

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