Dear Public School Parent

Dear Public School Parent,

I know you are scared, I know you are stressed, I know you want answers… guess what? I do too. While I work for a public school district, I am also a public school parent. I get it. You want your kid back at school. You want to be able to go to work and not worry. You want to stop trying to have zoom meetings for work while trying to entertain your kid. You want to go back to what you know. You want to go back to what you felt like was control. And I get it… you are afraid… we all are.

I spent most of today… almost 6 hours… leading three different sessions for about 500 teachers and campus staff. The topic? Not how to use new technology, not how to sanitize the classroom… Nope, each group was a session on self-care for educators. No, it was not about trying to cope without being able to go get a pedicure, it was how to deal with overwhelming emotions, unrealistic expectations, fears. It was on how they can have the courage to overlook all the degrading and nasty comments about teachers on social media. It was about how they have the ability to help our students no matter the platform… it was seeing them, it was valuing them, it was letting them know they are enough.

It is amazing how quickly the tide turns. In April teachers were the heroes of the world. One month of parents home with their children made us realize how magical teachers are… how they do so much… how they deserve so much more than they are given…. and yet how quickly this was forgotten. In April they were heroes followed by being called selfish in August… and why? Teachers are worried about their own health. Teachers give so much and the one time they ask about their own wellbeing, we look at them and blame them for a society of failures.

You see teachers as not being enough… Today I saw a group that loves what they do. They love working with students. They are working tirelessly to try and figure out whatever the next day will bring. They are doing this while the social narrative is against them and is blaming them for things that are not theirs. Today I saw a group raw and vulnerable in explaining what this is like for them. I saw a group wanting to do their best.

So please, before you yell (or type loudly) of how horrible public education is… step back and ask why you are quick to judge one segment of society… a segment that has been increasingly underfunded… a segment that cares and educates all students… and ask yourself why you are so critical of public education yet not those who fund it… ask yourself if you vote for those who support education… ask yourself if you are owning your own fears before you start judging and blaming others.

Today an activity I led asked everyone to draw a big circle on their paper. They were to write everything they have control over inside the circle. On the outside of the circle, they were to write everything that is outside of their control. We then discussed and processed it. Each group agreed they spend more time focusing on what is outside of their control instead of what is inside their control. We processed why that is… I then shared my thoughts. I focus more on what is outside of my control because it is easier for me. Judging and complaining requires nothing of me… I get to be a spectator. To really focus on what is in control makes me responsible and oftentimes requires me to change…

Before you are quick to judge, label, critique those working tirelessly ask yourself if you have looked at what is in your circle. I asked the teachers today how they want to remember this time in ten years… I think we can all benefit from reflecting on it.

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