Thank you, teachers, for this pandemic school year
CLEVELAND, Ohio – I will never take school for granted again.
Because the pandemic has made it clear that I cannot teach my children. I find it hard to get them to do their homework.
Last spring was the longest three months of my life when homework existed in Google Slides and web portals I couldn’t follow. I threatened, cajoled, and harassed, and they still spent most of their time watching the Holderness family videos on YouTube.
It was best when school resumed in August, when the days had a set schedule, and my kids could see their teachers and classmates, even on a Zoom screen. Even if our dining room table was taken over with notebooks and a multiplication of blunt pencils.
But when the bus finally roared down our street at the end of September and took my kids for hybrid school half-days, I waved in rambunctious relief. To finish! To finish! They were gone.
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We were still doing specials at home. My fourth grade son played a tortured rendition of Hot Cross Buns on his recorder, and my grade two daughter did art projects in her bedroom.
These poor teachers, who teach the same lesson over and over again all day, online, to a group of 12 kids at a time.
I’ve never felt more grateful to teachers than this year, as we went from hybrid school to online school, only to finally go back to full day, five days a week in January.
Cleveland.com readers shared their own thanks.
The teachers dealt with every setback in stride.
No more friendly desk modules in classrooms. No more school assemblies, book fairs and group projects. Gone is the fourth year trip to Camp Fitch and the sophomore trip to Playhouse Square.
Children wore masks and carried hand sanitizer through classrooms divided into rigid rows. They all had lunch all in the same direction, so they didn’t breathe too much on each other.
It was school in its most basic form.
And as frustrating as it was, it was wonderful.
I know some parents are angry with education in a pandemic, with decisions that don’t seem logical, as schools try to balance science and changing circumstances. I know there is real concern about what the children have learned.
It will take years to understand the effects of the pandemic on children’s education and mental health. But at the end of this school year, the teachers deserve praise.
I want to thank the teachers for their courage, ingenuity, positive attitude and concern.
They taught my children fractions and phonetics, conducted science experiments, and encouraged reading. They emailed me when my kid missed an (other) assignment. They made Halloween fun, even without the parade or the traditional parties. They built gingerbread houses by Zoom and quarantined Valentine’s Day cards for days before the kids could hand them out. They made the school a welcoming port where children could learn and grow, despite the fear, stress and endless distractions of the coronavirus.
They did it all without the parent volunteers, who were not allowed to go through the front door buzzer all year round.
I hope that the next school year will be easier for all of us. But thank you, professors, for making the most of this one. Up to you, to work every day to ensure that our children receive an education.
Laura Johnston is the content director of cleveland.com, which occasionally writes about navigating modern life with children.