This week has been bitter sweet. We get this unexpected and blessed time to spend with our children due to COVID-19. No matter how stressful, overwhelming, and ever changing this time may be, we all have taken moments to cherish the amazing beings that are our children.
When J entered his first year of school this past fall, we felt unsure of what the school year held. He’s our first of three to go to school. Our school district was new to us, and though research said it was a good district, we didn’t know for sure. He was slotted to attend an elementary school that was older, and in some ways appeared warn down and weathered. Could this indicate a school that might not be great? And what about his age? He had just turned five years old only two months before the school year started, and we were unsure if it was the right choice to send him.
During our special introductory day just before classes were to start, J had a one-on-one appointment scheduled with his kinder teacher. As parents this was also our opportunity to meet the teacher and ask her any questions we had. She immediately set our nerves at ease. Her welcome was warm, and she formed an instant connection with J. We established a relationship with her at that moment too, where we agreed to stay in touch and discuss and work through challenges if they arose.
And oh boy did challenges arise! J is a loving kid, but also comes with many opinions. His will to do things, or not do them, can be strong. But we felt blessed because we were in the trenches with an amazing kinder teacher who loved our child and was dedicated to his success.
Then, something so unexpected happened. Schools shut down for what we believed would be six weeks. Then the rest of the year. Our hearts sank. This was never part of our plan when introducing our oldest to his educational career. This was a plot line from a movie, or the manifestations of a bad dream. Could one virus really shut down everything? Would it shut down the path to our son’s future?
But J’s devoted teacher never had any intention of letting her kindergarteners fall through the cracks. She got to work immediately creating plan, after plan, after revised plan. She set up meetings, then adjusted as the school district caught up and asked for more structure, then less structure, then more structure.
And let me tell you, she did this all while taking care of her two young children at home! It’s dedication to be a teacher to other people’s children, and a whole new dedication level to suddenly be your children’s teacher as well. But, she never let this interrupt her determination to make this sudden rift feel anything but seamless.
Today she shared her heart with the parents of her kindergarten class. A wonderful, tear jerking, passionate letter of how she would have changed things if she’d known her last day with the kids was actually the last day. How she would have given big hugs, taken extra time, and given even more love. This coming from a teacher who always gave her all, no matter what. No matter her overwhelming fear of exposure to a deadly virus. No matter her concerns over families, students and jobs.
The amazing thing…the thing we should be so very thankful, grateful for this Teacher’s Week, is that our teacher isn’t the only one with such a big heart. There are many, many teachers out there taking a giant leap, and trusting in what innovations they can make, so their students can thrive in this very different time. They are all working tirelessly, coming up with creative solutions, and making themselves available for all the different needs of individual students. These heroes are fighting for our students by encouraging learning at any and all levels, while more importantly making sure they are taken care of at a psychological and emotional level. Because they recognize this time is hard on our children too, and they often don’t know how to express it as adults do. And, as teachers, they continue their battles for inequity and food insecurity, and many even ramp up their fight for change because all they can think of are the many children and their families who have so little.
So today, I thank our wonderful Mrs. W. And I thank all the other teachers out there who are embracing this shift in our world, because they are devoted to our learners of the world. What you do is amazing, and special, challenging, and hard. Thank you!
P.S. – I’m also sending all the love to our hard working nurses. Happy Nurse’s Week! From one nurse to the rest, you are also amazing! I love all you do. There’s a reason Nurse’s Week and Teacher’s Week fall at the same time. Because you are all amazing!