We have this thing in news called the Friday surprise. It’s big-deal news that you have to work feverishly to get out before the weekend, when no one will pick up the phone to answer questions. Last week's Friday surprise was that some Juneau elementary school students are returning to in-person classes and all-day learning.
I think we’ve all been aching for a return to normalcy, and this feels like a step in that direction. One parent, Sanjay Pyare, told KTOO's Pablo Peña that remote learning was exhausting for his kids.
“It’s going to be a lot more effective for the teacher,” he said. “And for the teacher to go back and ask questions zero in on students and whatnot, and how much they’re picking up.”
But I can’t stop thinking about the teachers I know. We’ve asked a lot of our teachers this year. This surprise return to nearly full-time, in-person learning is just one more thing they’ve had to adjust to on the fly. And it’s not going to be easy.
A teacher friend tells me that before the pandemic, she would have had parent volunteers to help — but they’re not allowed in the schools right now. So teachers are on their own trying to keep kids physically apart while keeping them engaged and helping them regain the stamina they need for in-person school.
It’s a triage situation. She’s already exhausted, and she’s not the only one. I’m not a teacher, so I asked around. What I heard back is that teachers could use a few things from us.
One is classroom supplies. A lot of teachers gutted their classrooms at the start of the pandemic, sending whatever they could home to families that needed help setting their kids up at home. So now teachers need enough supplies to give each kid a personal stash — no more community box of markers or crayons.
The other is validation. Tell your kid’s teachers that you see them. Tell them you know this year has been just as impossible for them as it has been for us — that we are all in this together, and we’re here for them as they guide our kids into whatever happens next.
If you have a story about teaching or learning this year, we’d love to hear it. You can reply to this email or send a news tip using our contact form.
-- Rashah McChesney, KTOO Daily News Editor