Cut Your Kid's Teacher Some Slack This Fall

by Elizabeth Broadbent
Cut Your Kid's Teacher Some Slack This Fall
Scary Mommy and Drazen_/Getty

My husband is a public school teacher. He has been preparing for virtual school, then face-to-face school, then virtual school again. At the beginning of the summer, he took two unpaid weeks of training to teach virtual school. He’s been preparing all summer to educate and support his students in an online classroom. He did it last year, but it happened so suddenly, with no plans, with little preparation. This time, he’s worked on it. He’s had time to get ready. But he can only prepare so much. He can only imagine so many contingencies. Things keep changing, flip-flopping.

He’s not alone. Every teacher in America’s going through this right now. So America, cut your kid’s teacher some slack this fall. They’re going to need it. They deserve it.

How Will The Kids Behave?

No one knows how the kids will act. Your child is the first unknown in this vast equation of variables. Is your kid depressed? Is your kid anxious? Is your kid angry to start school? Or is your child a Chatty Cathy thrilled to be back with her peers who just can’t seem to find that mute button on her Zoom? Cut your kid’s teacher some slack for dealing with kid’s emotions.

Kids will show up for school in unbrushed hair wearing pajamas. They will slurp their breakfast cereal. They will stare at their phones and hit their vape pens. They will pick their noses and sniff their armpits because they don’t understand everyone can see them all the time. They will stare at themselves like parrots with a mirror and fix their hair. Cut your kid’s teacher some slack for dealing (or in some cases, not dealing) with discipline issues from a distance.

Kids will not show up at all, because they don’t have access to the internet. Cut your kid’s teachers some slack for that one, too. They’re so worried about those kids.

Cut Your Kid’s Teachers Some Slack Over Tech SNAFUs

All of this is brand new. Teachers have worked hard to plan lessons around tech that has, so far, worked. But my husband just discovered that his district’s site doesn’t support Chrome or Chrome plug-ins; Internet Explorer runs really slow… and that’s just the latest. He’ll find out more in the middle of classes when his carefully planned lesson fails because the tech fails. A program that worked before suddenly doesn’t work so well for thirty-three kids. Or half of those thirty-three kids, for one reason or another, can’t seem to use it.

Or some vital portion of the Internet refuses to play. The slides don’t work. The site can’t be found. Cut your kid’s teachers some slack. Tech doesn’t work perfectly in the best of circumstances, and they’re completely dependent upon it to teach your children. Screw-ups are bound to happen. Please don’t bust into the principal’s virtual office because of a tech issue. They’re doing the best they can.

Realize That Sometimes The Lesson Might Be To Breathe Deeply


Your kid’s teacher wants the best for them. You want the best for your kid. So if a teacher takes a class to check in with the kids, to practice meditation, to offer them a place to vent, or to talk about ways to cope, don’t freak out. Say thank you. Cut your kid’s teachers some slack when they take the time not only to teach, but to help your children with soft skills like empathy and mental well-being. It’s not all tests and standards— especially right now. And a good teacher knows it.

Cut Your Kid’s Teacher Some Slack: They’re Scared

You’re scared to send your kid to school? Your kid’s teacher is scared to go back to school. Scared your kid might get COVID-19 and bring it home to the fam? Your teacher’s scared they’ll contract COVID-19 and bring it home to their fam. If the teachers seem edgy when face-to-face classes start, if they seem anxious or frightened, realize it’s normal. They are human. Cut them some slack. After such a long haul of social isolation, it’s natural to feel worry and fear about going into a crowded situation, no matter what precautions the school is taking. Realize the teachers are as frightened as you, and meet them in the middle.

Realize No One Knows What This Will Look Like

Face-to-face? Virtual? Our teachers don’t know what this school year will look like. They don’t know, in my husband’s case, how often they’ll see their student’s faces. He frets about how long it will take him to learn their names. “It takes me so long in a normal year,” he says. “How long will it take me if I don’t see them as much on a computer screen, or if they’re a little face on a Zoom meeting?” Cut him some slack when he doesn’t know every kid’s name in the first week, please?

He doesn’t even know how often he’ll teach from school and from home.

I don’t know if my bedroom will become a classroom.

Teachers across the country don’t know what their childcare situation will look like.

Cut your kid’s teachers some slack over all this. They don’t know what tomorrow will look like. Every time their email dings, their heart hits their throat. They don’t know if it’ll be the same old news or some radical new policy. Show them patience and kindness, the same patience and kindness they show your children.

Help them when you can.

But most of all, know they’re doing their very best by your kid, every single day. And in that knowledge, cut them some slack when things slip sideways.