Education: Schools What’s the Truth About Expectations?
2020 and 2021 have been challenging years in education for students, parents, and teachers alike. Parents want their student’s mental health, socialization, and in person education to aid them in growing into adulthood. Students want socialization, some appreciate the learning, but most really just want to see other kids and be with their peers. Teachers for the most part want to educate the whole child and see the buds of knowledge begin to grow from their facilitation. Unfortunately each year this has become more and more difficult for everyone. Another unfortunate fact is that parents have no real idea what is going on in schools. It is often sheltered from the media. Teachers are told not to report to the media or tell parents the full story for fear of violating privacy acts. Teachers are bullied by administrators or district leaders to not report or they will be pushed out of their field or have legal charges brought against them.
Most students spent over a year looking at a computer screen with legislation that they couldn’t be held back and school districts spoon feeding information to the point that learning was greatly lacking. They weren’t held to standards of in person education (which aren’t very high to begin with) and in most cases if they even attempted work were passed along. Most students didn’t work within groups where ideas were shared and explored, they didn’t turn on cameras to see their faces or sometimes even attend classes during the scheduled times. Let’s be honest if you were told to get online and do your job but no one was going to hold you accountable would you? I know people are concerned about the time students spend doing this but kids are resilient and teachers are creative if expectations were actually created trust that most students could make this growth up in no time. If you question it, think about your grandparents who had to learn remotely by radio in the 1938 Polio epidemic.
Parents really want the best for their kids but are often unsure how to best help their student. During virtual school most didn’t have the time with at least one full time job to sit and make sure they were logged on and checked into the learning environment. Some students were given assignments that they didn’t have the education level to do because schools, at least ones I’ve experienced, have been passing kids along without the skills they need for a long time. An example would be when I’ve taught sixth grade and the average reading level has been below 3rd grade, some years even lower. How do students complete sixth grade work with 3rd grade reading levels or lower? The majority of parents are concerned over their student’s education but they didn’t go to school to be a teacher and honestly many just don’t know what to do but trust the school. This is a big mistake! Do not trust the school!
Teachers that I have met have been champions for our students in spite of school and state legislation that has been sabotaging education for years. Teachers spend on average 60 hours a week working to better educate children and take care of the whole child. We pay for lunch accounts so kids aren’t hungry during lessons, we give out snacks for after school tutoring, we counsel children who are crying because of their home life, and we teach them the content they need to build on to continue their education. Many of us continue to reach out to our students even when they are no longer in our classroom so they know they always have someone in their corner. Examples would be that I have sat with a child telling their parent they cut themselves and attempted suicide. I have been with a child when they told their parent they were pregnant, and I have listened as children have needed to talk about their sexual identity before they hurt themselves for the feelings they were having. This barely touches the iceberg of what teachers help with even in my own stories. Right now teachers are crumbling during this time. We are being asked to do even more, being told by people who have no idea how to teach what to do, and being told that we need to do more. Let’s be clear, whatever money the government gave schools for the pandemic I haven’t seen any of it used to help kids except for some face masks and hand sanitizer. I have not been given extra money for supplies, I have not been given extra money for curriculum resources to catch kids up, and I have not been given any extra help for giving students incentives to learn.
What advice would I give to all those at stake? Students are the biggest concern with the clear lack or in my experiencing dumbing down of expectations. Parents should think about the basic skills they know they need to get ahead and spend a little time assessing and trying to encourage learning in this area. Ask your student how was your 1st hour, 2nd hour, etc… Make it a conversation you have regularly so your student knows they can tell you what really happened. As a teacher I tell my students please tell your parents after reporting something (and by something I do mean something that should be scary for parents) so that something will happen (although often nothing does happen because no one complains). Don’t blame your child’s teacher because we are doing all that we can at this point when administration sends us emails that say “you should be able to have a child tearing down your bulletin board and another one crying on the floor and still be able to continue with your lesson without calling for support.” Education is in crisis and without parents and teachers working together to rebuild the system we will continue to see low expectations and eventually adults without the skills to succeed.
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