From the moment the month of August began, I have been reflecting upon how my role during back-to-school time has changed over the years. In the past, I’ve been a student and an educator. This year is the first time I will identify as a mother of an elementary aged child.
After all this reflection, however, I want to begin by thanking teachers.
My appreciation for educators began very early, being the daughter of a well-respected high school math teacher. Watching my father as I grew up, I saw the amount of work he put in for his students every single day. His former colleagues and students often told me how great of a teacher he was. They proved how much of an impact he made during his career.
Throughout my own career as a student, I definitely had teachers I admired along the way, from elementary school all the way through graduate school. Teachers who encouraged me, believed in me, and were mentors to me.
My appreciation only grew when I worked alongside many wonderful educators as a speech-language pathologist in the school system. I sat through endless meetings with classroom teachers, special education teachers, other therapists, and administrators who all, in some way, taught me new things about working with children every day.
It has been over two years since I have worked at a school. However, I remember all of the feelings I had about going back to school as an educator.
The feeling of loss of a summer filled with enjoyment, while simultaneously looking forward to the first day of school. The anxious feeling when thinking about how to best set up the workroom or classroom for the year, and the careful preparation that suddenly begins to consume your thoughts and days when August rolls around.
I still remember the personal goal setting, the desire to be a better educator that you were the previous year, to change things you don’t think worked so well for you in the past. All because you care about making the upcoming school year the very best you can for your students.
I haven’t technically worked since my daughter was an infant. While I never thought that I would leave my career even briefly, well, here I am two and a half years later. I’m now living 100% of my time with only one title; that of ‘mom.’ Oh, how different my feelings about back to school time are now.
As a mom of a brand new elementary student, I am excited, scared, hopeful, and worried. I also have so many other feelings I can’t possibly list without making this post way too long. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is one word I have to hang onto as this school year starts: trust.
I need to trust my children’s teachers, current and future. Trust that he will figure out the social scene with their assistance. Trust that he will learn and thrive in school, even if there are rough patches.
The mom and educator in me would love to provide all the solutions for all of his troubles as he goes along. But I have to trust his teachers to take the lead while he’s in school. So I will work with them as a mother and trust that they will teach and care for my child as if he was their own. Because I know that this is how many teachers operate. I’ve seen it. I think we’ve all seen it. Every time some kind of tragedy happens that impacts a school district, you hear stories about teachers that go above and beyond to protect their students when the parents aren’t there. I’d like to think that more teachers are like this than not.
Based on our experiences during kindergarten screening, many of my fears have diminished. I know my son is heading into a learning environment rich with opportunities. These educators really do care about their students, not unlike the ones I have worked with in the past.
The basis for trust has been built.
So here I find myself, once again, thanking teachers.
Thank you for listening to my concerns and the concerns of other parents before the school year even started and working on a plans to address our fears. It means more to me and other parents than I can express.
Thank you for being the ones teaching our children more than reading or math, science or social studies. This year you’ll continue teaching them to want to learn and not to give up.
Thank you for giving little guys like mine hugs when there are tears. This makes it easier for us parents to ‘let go’.
Thank you for staying after school to call me and other parents to check in and to make sure we’re all on the same page for the good of our children.
Thank you for challenging the children who need the challenge to help them grow, and working to modify curriculum for the ones who need a little more help. The confidence children gain because of your efforts to do this is priceless.
Thank you for giving up so much of your time with your family to make sure you’re prepared to face all of your students for the next 186 school days.
I’ve been in the trenches with you. I understand what it’s like to walk those halls. It takes focus, planning, strength, and sacrifice.
It truly does take a village to raise a child, and teachers are a huge part of that village.
While I’m not wearing my ‘educator’ hat this year, I will be thinking of you all. It is hard to be an educator these days. Current societal issues greatly impact what happens to our children in our schools. Our teachers have to be creative. They need to work around a wide variety of different issues and make learning accessible for all. It is no easy feat.
Again, thank you, teachers. Take good care of our children, yourselves, and have a terrific year! I have every confidence you will.