At first, it was almost exciting. Yes, we were shut in and terrified of this virus, but there were so many offers rolling in. Every morning without fail I would open my inbox to invitations to webinars, professional development, free printable resources, homeschool calendars, social media groups, and brand-new online libraries! It was a lot, really. It was just so much. And it stayed that way, until it was way too much. I delayed opening my email until a little later every day. I stopped even wanting to look.
There is a lot that we can do with this time. That much is clear. But there are and should be realistic limits. I doubt, for example, that I will become great at DIY in the coming weeks, no matter how many tutorials I may watch. I shouldn’t try replacing any windows. I’m equally skeptical that I will become a solid mechanic in this time, or a master painter, or a skilled chef. Those things take years to become, after all, time largely spent in structured, intentional training. So I’m stunned we’re asking parents to quickly learn to teach.
No doubt you’ve taught your kids a million and one things since their birth. You’ve given them everything from the words for all of the things that they see and bites of new food to the ability to tie their shoes, ride their bikes, show kindness, catch frogs, and even, eventually, to put themselves to bed and get themselves to sleep. You are already remarkable educators in life skills. Some few of you are additionally blessed with the patience, grasp of methodology, and sufficient content knowledge to effectively homeschool your children by choice. Good for those few of you. Most of you, though, chose other paths. And that is as it should be; we need to let the prepped and willing teachers teach.
You’ve likely heard this a lot already, but teachers would rather be teaching right now. They miss their classrooms and your kids. They miss conversations with their peers and opportunities to learn from each other and as a group. I’ll say it again: they miss your kids. Your kids also likely miss them. What your kids aren’t missing is instruction as they’ve experienced it for however many years they’ve been in school. They aren’t missing it because, for the most part, it’s not happening. Most teachers are just learning how to teach on-line and still hit most marks and reach most kids, all while running short on time. Meanwhile, legislators and administrators are probably packing your inbox with surveys. They need to know if you have a computer and access to the internet. Would you need paper packets? As tutors, we’ve asked a lot of these same questions. We all want to reach and teach your kids, but there is only so much we can do.
SLD Read is still serving students. It’s not face-to-face and it’s not everyone, but we are doing what we can do. For the rest, we must give ourselves grace. For the moment, we must live within limitations that we never asked for and are not accustomed to. That’s what you’re doing, too. And you are also due grace. You are frightened but smiling at your kids. You are holding living room “yoga” sessions and baking lopsided and odd-tasting pies. You are building pillow forts, sleeping in tents, and finding dragon-shaped clouds in the sky. You are taping hearts to your windows. You are teaching your kids about fear, resilience, hope, and joy. Your kids are gaining these days with you; they are not falling behind. Repeat those words, again and again. Remember who taught those kids to be kind.