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Usually, when you’re a room parent, you oversee class parties and help kids add handprints to holiday gifts for their parents. Sometimes, you may also laminate, make photocopies or assemble hallway displays highlighting students’ recent work. 

In 2020, however, teachers could use assistance of a different nature. They’re attempting to control a plane that lost its wings mid-flight. Not only are they pilots now, they’re figuring out how to become aeronautical engineers, and health compliance officers, as well.

Help flatten the educational chaos curve

How can parents lessen the burden for their kids’ teachers? First, have some understanding – and flexibility. Teachers don’t like this situation any more than we do. And no matter what decision their school district makes, some families will be upset.

There’s also a lot of work happening behind the scenes. Some educators are learning several types of new software at once. They’re also brainstorming ways to make learning engaging without hand-held manipulatives, makerspace materials, lab equipment or other resources.

During social distancing and remote learning, teachers need different ways to engage students.

And that’s just a smidgen of what lurks beneath the surface of this pandemic-teaching iceberg.

Ask how you can help

Just as students aren’t all alike, neither are teachers. They have different personalities, teaching styles, levels of employer and family support, health situations, and financial scenarios.

So rather than assume what your child’s teacher wants or needs, please ask. One educator may need to update her curriculum or enrichment materials (which she always pays for to a large extent); another may want better headphones or software to support this new educational reality.

Two options many teachers would welcome are:

  • donations for an annual classroom subscription, like Scholastic, that has print and digital options
  • a Teachers Pay Teachers (TpT) gift card for lesson plans and activities that are designed for distance learning

Paid versions for technology platforms, that provide more features for teachers and students, could be very helpful,” adds Christine Weis, elementary teacher and creator of the For the Love of Teachers.

In addition, there’s always the gift of time and talent.  

“I’d love to have a parent volunteer or two, who could research great Chrome extensions and assist with other technology-related tasks,” says Noelle Hoffmeister, an educator in Illinois and co-founder of Get Up and Teach.

Parents with these skills could even take turns being “on call” or volunteering for pre-determined time slots via SignUpGenius.  

Use kind words

And last, but not least, be a bucket filler. During a quiet moment, such at bedtime, ask your child to name one thing that he or she likes about school this year. Then, send the teacher a short email to share what your child revealed.

Educating kids during social distancing is a whole new ball game. Here are ways to help your child's teacher.

If you’re like me, you may be surprised by the answers!

When I asked my technology-loving son this question, he began rattling off cool software features. He also likes that he has an hour for lunch and that he can wear his baseball cap every day. And my daughter says it’s pretty fun to do “Mixed Pair Share” with her stuffed animals. (Students normally do this activity with a classmate, but rather than scrap it altogether, her teacher improvised.)

We’re in this together

One thing that hasn’t changed is how valuable a great parent-teacher relationship can be.   

“Ultimately, it’s always the partnership between parents and teachers that makes or breaks a school year for a child,” explains Hoffmeister. “And with so much conflict and polarization in our world right now, our cooperation is more important than ever.”

Special thanks to Jackie Crews, Christine Weis and Noelle Hoffmeister, M. Curr. and Instruction, for their input on this topic. (Click on their names to see their Teachers Pay Teachers shops.)

Also, Noelle and Get Up and Teach co-founder, Cathy D’Alessandro, M. Ed. Psy., just launched a homeschool support service! Their combined 40 years (and counting) of classroom experience will be a huge benefit to homeschool parents who would like coaching to navigate math, reading and writing school year. Get more details.

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