Parents Need to Stand Down & Let Teachers Do Their Jobs

Modern Parent
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Several local parenting and community groups popped up on my social media feeds in the wake of mass shutdowns and the shift to remote learning in most school districts following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At first, the vibes in these groups were (mostly) positive.

We applauded the hard work of our teachers. We worked together to problem solve the difficulties associated with remote learning. Ever hopeful, we looked to the future, a day when things might return to “normal.” Optimistic, we relied on mutual trust and respect to get us through unexpected, difficult times.

That was then, and this is now.

As the pandemic raged on, the tone of these messages and posts, both in my local parenting groups and on a larger scale within social media, turned resentful, petty, and downright mean. Burned out, parents showed their true colors. Gone were messages thanking teachers for their hard work and diligence.

When a group of parents and their high schoolers stood outside the Board of Education and protested the suspension of fall sports, I said nothing. Never mind that even professional leagues couldn’t keep the virus contained.

When an angry horde of parents jumped on the bandwagon to attack the superintendent for shifting back to remote learning over the holidays, I said nothing. Never mind the post-Christmas COVID-19 surge that did indeed happen.

Parents whine about curricula, covid protocols, distance learning, the lack of snow days, etc. In other words, parents whine about everything. Over the past nine months, Karens be Karening hard.

The constant complaints blow my mind, and I’m tired of saying nothing.

Teachers are leaving the profession in droves due to unreasonable demands and unrealistic expectations. Let us not forget the near-constant meddling of parents. Yes, the blame lies with us, too.

Tell me: Who exactly will be left to educate our children if we drive away all of the teachers?

This week, I stumbled upon a post criticizing the middle school language arts department’s required reading selections for the 2020–21 academic year. This parent claimed that the department only assigned “depressing” books for the kids to read. (“Couldn’t they be given uplifting or happy texts?”) Dozens of parents dragged out their pitchforks. Really?

All school departments must meet specific learning standards. The language arts teachers can’t pick any old book that looks fun or uplifting. The books the department chooses meet learning standards, build empathy and talk about complex subjects through the messages and themes in fiction.

If your child struggles with the complicated messages in the books assigned at school, it’s your job to balance those feelings of confusion with more uplifting fiction at home. Save Diary of a Wimpy Kid for independent reading, folks.

In a typical academic year, challenges come with learning. This year has been extra.

Extra challenging. Extra hard. Extra stressful.

What if you reach out to your child’s teacher and discuss what you find problematic instead of jumping on social media to bash the superintendent or an entire department? When parents disparage teachers on social media, they damage the parent-teacher relationship. Make no mistake about it — education is a relationship among teachers, parents, and students.

What if you model resiliency, adaptability, and positive behavior at home instead of protesting outside of the Board of Education?

Some of my friends are teachers. This year, I’ve watched them experience an incredible amount of overwhelm and burnout. They work around the clock to create content for in-person and virtual learners. Newsflash — they see your negative social media posts! A year ago, you told them you valued, supported, and appreciated them. Now? You make them feel forgotten and undervalued. Just like you and me, they’re struggling.

Let’s be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

I get it. It’s hard. But we want to raise children who have mental toughness, grit, and determination. If we choose to die on every little hill, our children will never learn to adapt to life’s curveballs. And this year has been one giant curveball.

How can you support teachers?

First of all, set a good example. When your children hear only complaints and negative messages about their education, they’ll complain too. Little ears listen 24/7! Avoid negative talk in front of your children and embrace change.

Cultivate relationships and build solid partnerships with teachers. If you have a problem, offer constructive feedback to educators and administrators.

Most important, readjust your expectations. Our children will “catch up.” I’m not exactly sure what they’re catching up to, but they’ll get there with the help of the positive relationship you’ve built with your community’s educators.

Do better.

My hope for our nation’s educators is they know many of us will go to bat for them.

We value you. We appreciate you. You matter.

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