It's that time of year again. When social media feeds are filled with back-to-school pictures. Parents count the days until their kids are off summer break and back in school every year. But in 2022, there's a different feel to how things are going.
That's because across the United States but felt especially hard here in Michigan; teachers are opting not to return to the classroom. WNEM reports that there are 280,000 fewer public school teachers than before the pandemic began.
Part of the problem is that educators don't feel like they are being heard. Thomas Morgan, a spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association, said: "They need to make sure they are increasing compensation-- they need to make sure that elected leaders are listening to the board of educators before making policy decisions--We need to make sure that we are treating educators as the professionals they are."
Teachers are also pushing for parents to be more proactive in their children's educational lives. They want to work as a team with the adults in the students' lives, but they are also unwilling to be disrespected by parents.
One teacher claimed a parent cyberstalked her, digging into her personal life. After being confronted by the woman, the educator decided that the pay and drama of working for a school district weren't worth it and tendered her resignation.
Advice that teachers gave in this situation was to not pry into someone's personal life. They cited that they go through background checks and various hurdles before being hired, which should be enough to make parents feel comfortable.
They also gave some other advice for parents to consider.
Breakfast, Lunch, Success
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's a line that is said in marketing cereals and other morning foods a lot. WebMD explains why this is the case: "It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school."
Mrs. McDonald, an early childhood educator, advises that parents ensure their children get a hearty breakfast before school. Fellow teacher Miss Seipke agrees with the assessment and added that if a student's basic needs aren't being met, they won't be able to concentrate in school.
Likewise, Miss Parton contends that if a student is sick, keep them home. It is for the protection of the ill child and the rest of the class. If a child is sent home because they are sick, the parent should take them to the doctor, not argue with the teacher. There could be something wrong that only a medical professional can help cure.
A few teachers also promoted the idea of taking care of the student's mental health. Miss Arnold, who teaches older elementary school classes, says that it's vital to ensure that the student is allowed to have fun. She suggests allowing them to spend time with their friends and not be concerned with school work for a certain period of time.
And teach them independence.
Children's behavior authority, Miss Quinlan, says to pay attention to a child's tantrum. While it might seem to be a cry for attention, she says there could be a deeper mental health reason: anxiety. The Daily Mail reports that anxiety in students has more than doubled since 2013.
Miss Arnold agrees and encourages parents to be proactive in the situation. She says if a child falls behind in class, talk with the teacher about it but make sure the student is loved. "Love your children and let them be children. You can always catch a behind child up you can't, however repair the damage of anxiety and depression or teach a child who is dead due to the stress of the world."
Along those lines, Miss Seipke encourages parents to ensure their children are independent. They should be able to zip up their pants, tie their shoes, and open their Lunchable. If a student can help their classmates with the on-the-go lunch packs, it's even better.
Professor Dion, who teaches nursing classes at a local college, reminds us that it's not just K-12 students making their way back into the classroom. College students will be returning or starting university during this time. The big thing for the first-year students coming in this fall is for them to realize that their professors expect them to learn like adults, and they will be responsible for their own learning experience.
And Miss Quinlan offered one final piece of advice for parents. She encouraged them to start the back-to-school routine early so the child has time to adjust to a new way of doing things. It'll help reduce stress.