It is coming up to the middle of August when most schools are starting or the teachers are at least planning the first days of instructions for the end of the month. I am lucky that my district had already scheduled a late start this year due to a fabulous new high school being completed this summer. That means our teachers and parents are in the beginning (-ish) of planning what to do when the doors do open.
Do we send our child back to school? [parent]
Do we limit the number of students on the buses? [administrators]
Do we keep our child at home and resume distance learning? [parent]
What, who, and where am I teaching? [teacher]
Can I work from home even if my child goes back to school? [parent]
Who is going to sanitize desks and how often? [administrators]
Will I get sick? [everyone]
If I do get sick, what happens…
As I listen to my own heart as well as those of my friends and coworkers, I keep coming back to one thing:
Parents, no matter if your child is in my classroom or on my Zoom call, I don’t need you as my co-teacher.
I don’t mean for that to sound harsh. Honest, I don’t.
What I need is for you to be your child’s parent. I promise I will teach them math and science content this year. It may not be with as many labs or manipulatives, but it will be with enthusiasm and rigor whenever possible.
If I am in class, that means I will tell stories to illustrate the math concepts. This will include some singing, some dancing, and definitely some laughing.
If I am on Zoom, that means the same thing. Maybe a little more laughing, though, because let’s be honest, technology will glitch and we can react in two ways: anger or laughter. I prefer the latter.
Your student and I will get through everything from place value to types of energy. We will learn a lot about ourselves, our iPads, math, and science. We will try. We will fail. We will pick ourselves up and try again.
You can relax and do what you would do any other year. That means check in on their day, look over their work (as you would homework any other year), and ask them questions like:
You don’t have to watch my reteaching lesson so you can explain the content to your son or daughter. They will be exposed to in several ways from me and have ample time to practice. (I promise, I will do my best to make sure everyone “gets it.”)
You don’t have to sit next to them while they work to make sure they mark it as done in Google Classroom. (I promise, they will catch on to the new routine as surely as they learned how to buy lunch themselves.)
Please know this, though, I DO want to work with you! I want to know if your child is struggling but putting on a brave face for me. I want to hear if they are at home worrying about schoolwork AND a sick friend, family member, or dog. My relationship with you to see to the overall growth of your child this year remains vital. I just want to make sure you know you are not expected to teach your child math and science this year. I will do my best to get that one off your to-do list.
Mrs. Jodi Hetman is a fourth grade math and science teacher. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely my own.