National Letter Writing Month

Teachers are grieving – National Letter Writing Month

I’ve been working from home since Kaelynn was born. I’d worked at home before that, but my freelancing and work from home life really began in earnest when she was born in 2013.

I’ve worked at home for a long time. I can tell you what’s going on right now is not a typical “work-from-home” situation. Not every single job is meant to be done from home, so many, many jobs are going to feel impossible and overwhelming.

Typically, the jobs that truly can be done from home are flexible. I was in charge of my own time, my own routine and getting my job done. I think now, there are a lot of managers that are overseeing subordinates very closely because they aren’t used to this arrangement.

Never have I sat for 9 hours (almost straight) when working from home. And this week, it happened twice.

This is not your typical work-from-home job, so please…don’t get the wrong idea.

This is not homeschooling

I’ve heard several homeschooling moms echo the same sentiment.

This is not homeschooling. When it comes to homeschooling, parents are in control. They choose the curriculum based on their child’s needs and goals. This is not even school-at-home or a flipped-classroom because in those cases, students do learning at home, but practical application at school.

Today I saw the term that actually applied: crisis school. We as parents are juggling way more than we ever expected in a timeline that seems unreasonable. Just a few short weeks ago, I was on a cruise living life in the sun, completely ignorant to what was to come. I was not prepared for what was to come just a few short days after arriving home.

Almost seven years later, we are adjusting to our new “work from home” situation. She’s at home doing school and I’m back at home doing work.

We aren’t full-time teachers. Some of us barely see our children as we work all day and then hope we can cram in teaching our children math lessons and how to read in the evening. It feels unnatural, because it is.

Teachers are trying to help, but consider the fact that they were thrust into this the same way we were, with their spouses, children and even their parents and grandparents still needing their help.

We are not OK

A few weeks ago, on a Thursday, I had been working all day, came home, fed my kids, took them to dance class, put them to bed and then settled in to finish up my work for job number one for the week.

It was 10:50 p.m. when I saved the last document, messaged my husband that I was finally done (he was out of town for work) and was planning to watch the news. It was also about that time that the governor came on TV for the second night in a row.

The first night, she was announcing that the COVID-19 outbreak was officially in Michigan. The second night, she was announcing that K-12 schools would close four three weeks.

Rats.

I texted the principal I work for, hoping to get ahead of the issue while I was still awake and not in the middle of next day when I was at job number two.

I had just finished writing a bunch of communication on how the first job would be conducting business in the wake of COVID-19. Now, that entire message was going to change. I could feel it in my bones.

I posted on Facebook: Check in on your communications friends. We are not OK.

It was true. Most of the communicators I know work for schools and churches. Our job was to tell our community how we were planning to keep them safe from COVID-19. The next day we were trying to figure out how to communicate canceling church, suspending school and moving to an online learning model. Information we were getting was changing by the minute, which meant the information we were posting was constantly changing too. It was the perfect storm.

Our principal announced that school would be canceled for three weeks during our last morning announcements for the year. We had no idea it would be the last morning announcements at that time.

Pile that on top of my regular week, parenting solo with a skeleton support team because my mom was in Florida for the month. I was definitely NOT OK.

Today, I saw that message from many of my teacher friends.

As much as I felt like my world was turned upside down, backward and then around again, at that point in time, they are feeling that same thing now.

Teachers are not OK

The teachers are not only forced to adapt their lesson plans to fit an online format, they were basically losing their kids without so much as a good bye.

They won’t get the chance to hug their students good bye. They won’t be able to walk them through the traditions as they make the next step to the next grade.

For our kids, that means no walkathon, no chapel family breakfast, no yearbook signing and no closing chapel. My fifth grader won’t leap across the hall to the “big kid” side of the school. My seventh grader won’t get to be there as her eighth grade peers graduate, mounting in excitement for her turn next year.

My fifth grader won’t go through her first communion class or start her confirmation journey. My first grader won’t feel the closer of leaving her class this year. I really hope she is still with them next year, because I’m not sure that she gets what’s happening.

That doesn’t even take into account the “graduating” 8th graders that move up to high school or the graduating seniors that are missing all the milestones of their last year of school before moving on to college, trade school or the working world.

These teachers who worked with them all year, who called them their “kids,” who were there when they lost teeth or felt scared, or calmed them when they were overwhelmed–yes, those teachers. They didn’t get to finish their year on their terms.

It’s not just “oh well.” For a lot of them, this is very, very sad. And they are NOT OK.

My first grader understands that she can’t see her friends every day, but she doesn’t know why. And she misses them.

Write a teacher

As we start our third day of National Letter Writing Month, think about those teachers. Think about the people who are molding those minds every day.

Really. Think about them. I mean, if you are the parent of school-aged child, you have now been home with your kids for several weeks doing this version of “crisis school” and I’m CERTAIN you have though “God bless those teachers” at least once. If you are like me, you think it several times a day. You especially think it when that teacher has volunteered to have a Zoom meeting with all of her 20-something first graders. And while you argue with your kid about brushing her hair, this teacher has gotten all 20-something kits to MUTE THEIR MICS AND LISTEN TO EACH OTHER in the span of about 5 minutes.

God bless those teachers. I can’t get that to happen on a Zoom call full of adults.

Now, today, as you write your letter for the day think about those teachers. Thank them. Write a teacher. Maybe a teacher you had or a teacher who has taught your kids. I think in recent years, I’ve had teachers on the list. However, this is different. This….is not regular Letter Writing Month, it’s Crisis Letter Writing Month. Let’s thank those who are in it with us.

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