Starting the School Year in a Positive Mindset
Updated: Sep 15
Teachers have always had a very challenging job – or jobs, really. Beyond teaching classes of 15-30+ kids and designing different ways to meet the needs of a variety of learners, teachers take on other jobs – making sure students’ have their basic needs met outside the classroom, lunch/recess supervision, coaching and club organizing, helping with school events and functions, and the list goes on and on. Teachers are “on” all day long, often without a break, working through lunch and prepping/grading in their “free” periods. I know elementary teachers who don’t drink water during the day because they’re afraid they won’t have an opportunity to use the restroom. They bring their work home with them. They spend their own money on classroom supplies. They continue their education, keeping up on the latest pedagogy and training in order to be able to renew their teaching license. They’re available when students need to talk or parents have a concern. They work their tails off because they care about our kids – all while under the careful scrutiny of their administration, parents, the general public, and social media. The high stress and low pay of teachers leads to the profession having a very high attrition rate, with roughly 8% of teachers leaving the industry each year (only ⅓ of those are retirement age).
The pandemic conditions this year will certainly not be reducing the stress of any teacher. Teachers have been told to prepare for three different ways of returning to the school year and to get ready to implement safety guidelines that go against the fundamentals of what they’ve been taught about building community, socialization, and group work in schools. They have been shifted from teaching specials to teaching in a classroom, or shuffled from grade to grade, or asked to teach a different subject, sometimes with VERY little notice to prepare. Despite all this, they’ll be there when your kids show up for their first day of school because their number one priority is your children.
Group work, working closely with others, & getting hands-on are big parts of school!
Working together to use students to show water has a hard time moving through clay!
So this year, we’d like to remind you that our teachers across the country are doing their best. They are constantly adapting to a changing situation and no one knows the best solution. They’re innovating. They’re redesigning. They’re learning. Let’s show them the patience, calmness, and grace we all expect when they’re teaching a child who is struggling.
Students model pollination with Cheeto Flowers!
So where to start when we think about how to support our teachers? If you have kids, it starts at home. You set the tone for your children for the school year and positivity can go a long way! We know it’s scary and there are a lot of unknowns. And it’s okay to talk to your kids about this – validate their feelings and then work to reassure them that they will have a great year at school! “I know you are feeling _____ about ______, but just remember all of the teachers and school staff have been working really hard to create a safe environment and can’t wait to see you again!” Even if you don’t agree with some of the new policies at the school (and some teachers don’t either, but it is what it is for now!), like wearing masks for example, avoid speaking negatively about it around your kids. It will affect how they feel about it and that is one more worry they don’t need right now. Be positive. Be confident! Be motivating! You set the tone for the year – be mindful and choose a tone that will help everyone succeed!
“The amazing thing about love and attention and encouragement and grace and success and joy is that these things are infinite. We get a new supply every single morning, and so we can give it away all day. We never, ever have to monitor the supply of others or grab or hoard.” Glennon Doyle
Want to do more? Give a teacher a boost! Is there a teacher you think is doing a great job? Tell them! Don’t be afraid to show your appreciation for teachers during this challenging time. Whether that is verbally, through a written note or email, or simple gestures of appreciation in the form of something that will make them smile. Maybe it’s a small sign with words of encouragement. Maybe you offer to order lunch to the school one day for a favorite teacher. Maybe you send flowers and a note of encouragement to the staff lounge or send some (pre-packaged) goodies in for them to enjoy on break. Maybe your child would want to write a note to a previous year’s teacher to remind them of their favorite part of being their student. These little signs of appreciation and kindness can go a long way right now in reminding teachers we support them.
Do you still want to do more? Talk with your child’s teachers or teachers at your local schools about what supplies they still need. With many schools moving to policies where children can’t share supplies and rooms have extra cleaning routines being implemented, many classrooms are short on materials! You could pick up a few things they need or offer to make a donation to classroom supplies. Some teachers may even have a list, like an Amazon Wishlist, where you can go to purchase what they need to help ensure the children have a safe, happy, and productive school year!
So as we settle into the school routine this fall, remember that all adults (parents or other role models in a child’s life) and not just teachers play an important role in the education of our children. The attitudes and actions of adults are constantly observed by youth (even if we think they’re not) and greatly influence a child’s view of the world. Let’s set these children up for success and encourage them every step of the way. Have a wonderful school year!