Corona Virus Quarantine Day #152: Teamwork! August 18, 2020:
In the last two days at in-service we have had many discussions. We have talked about our faith. We have talked about race. Today we also talked about suicide.
These are heavy topics my friends. This is a heavy year.
We are all feeling the uncertainty of what is to come in the months ahead.
We all have different opinions.
I would argue that having different opinions is ok.
What I know without a fraction of a doubt is that the mental health of ALL people is something we should be talking about and concern ourselves with.
As parents and as teachers we have kids coming back to our schools, or in some districts planning to learn online, that have had parents lose a job because of Covid, had to move because of Covid, who have had limited or no interaction with peers because of Covid. And of course, most recently, as this debate has taken center stage, we have a lot of kids who thrive in athletics and on fields and courts who have been prevented from competing.
One thing that stands out to me in all our discussions in these meetings is how we, as teachers, have such an ability to influence our students in a positive way, maybe even more so now than ever before.
While we’d all prefer to do this influencing in an actual school setting and without masks on, we can still have that influence over Zoom and with remote learning. My care and concern for my students doesn’t change if they are sitting in their PJ’s in their bedroom looking at me in their Brady Bunch box on Zoom or if they are sitting in front of me in a “socially distanced” classroom.
I love them the same.
I worry about them the same.
Another thing that really stands out to me is how critical it is for parents and teachers to work together to have the best outcomes for all kids. Imagine the impact we could all have on these kids if we were all working together. It would be remarkable!
Like many things in life, that is often not the case. Parents have tunnel vision for their own child and when something isn’t going well for them they want to fix it. I’d argue that’s human nature. But, I’d also argue that rather than fixing it (whatever “it” may be at any given moment) we, as parents, coaches and educators have a responsibility to teach them how to handle it.
We’ve all been dealt disappointment in our life, I’d argue that I learned more from the disappointments I’ve faced then the times things were achieved easily. In fact, some of the most heartbreaking moments of my life have given me the most valuable life lessons. These moments are also the ones that strengthened the healthy relationships in my life and helped me grow the most as a human being.
Just last week I was telling a teacher at my kid’s school that one of my kiddos seemed withdrawn. Not herself. Those that know Fiona, know she is full of life and spunk and sass and she is so much fun to be around. I was, and have been, concerned about this change I see in my little girl. When I told her former teacher, she was so profoundly concerned she asked if I would be ok with allowing Fiona to Face time her. OF COURSE! Fiona loves her teacher. When I went to Fiona and suggested it her face immediately lit up and she was her old self. I listened to this little girl talk to her former teacher with all the energy and spunk that has been hit or miss lately that used to be ALL THE TIME! It quite literally repaired my soul and our daughter’s too.
The very best part of this whole conversation was when Fiona’s teacher asked her if she ever feels sad because she just misses her friends and school. To this, Fiona replied, yes. Then, her teacher asked if they could pray together. She said that she has always found real comfort in Mary (at this point I’m straight up bawling…Mary is my girl as well!) and that when she feels sad or misses her friends or family she knows that they can always be connected through prayer to our Blessed Mother. Then they prayed a Hail Mary. It was the most beautiful and profound thing I have witnessed in a long time.
This woman, who had a lot of other things she could have been doing, dropped it all to have a conversation with our daughter that brightened up her whole day and changed her perspective. It brightened up my day as well!
To me, all the teachers I know and have associated with either at St. James or Sacred Heart or my friends that are teachers across the nation would make that phone call in a heartbeat if they knew it was needed or that it would help.
It doesn’t make the fact that this wonderful human being did this for my daughter any less special.
What I have been reminded of (because I already knew) with this experience and my in-service meetings these past few days is that we as parents, first need to ask for help with our kids who are struggling. Then we as teachers, need to do what GOD created us to do, what comes naturally for us and go change kids lives.
Finally, we as educators, and us, as parents have a duty to teach these kids that adversity isn’t a bad thing. Having to work hard for something makes that achievement that much more exciting and satisfying. Going through something hard or painful only makes us stronger and helps us learn more about ourselves.
So as we enter this new school year, whatever the heck it looks like I plan to ask for help from my kid’s teachers, be honest with them about what their needs may be or concerns I may have and as a teacher I hope that my student’s parents will do the same.
We have a duty to try to make this the best school year ever, especially considering the circumstances and I am 1,000% going to do my part to make that possible!