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Parents everywhere are trying to figure out what back to school will look like this year. The school system has been one of the areas most impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic. School closures due to the virus have affected at least 124,000 public and private schools nationwide—and 55.1 million students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Students are learning from home and their parents are helping them. This new “homeschool” life for many families has led to a lot of laughter, some tears, and, most importantly, a much bigger appreciation for all the hard work our educators do on a daily basis. In fact, a recent study conducted by the educational tech company Osmo found that as a result of our new normal, 80 percent of parents with school-age kids have a newfound respect for teachers and 69 percent believe that being a teacher is harder than what they do for a living. Here are some of the things that parents have told us they’ve come to appreciate about their children’s teachers.
How they make “boring” concepts fun
Many teachers are incredibly creative in their lessons, using bowling balls to teach physics, Hollywood movies to teach Shakespeare, and even omelets to teach algebra. “I think the moment I really appreciated my son’s teacher was during the first week of online school. I walked into my son’s room and saw him watching a lengthy video of a guy making an omelet,” says Rachel L. of Lakeville, Minnesota. “I was like, ‘Dude! You’re supposed to be doing schoolwork!’ and he replied, ‘I am! That’s my algebra teacher. He’s using omelet ingredients to teach us a formula.’ I sat down and watched it with him—it was that interesting!”
Check out these 25 education quotes that will inspire a love of learning.
How hard they work to connect with each student
It’s hard to teach a student if you don’t have a good rapport with them first. “I have come to appreciate how much teachers know my kids and care about their well-being,” says Leslie R. of Arvada, Colorado. “They value the connection with them, go out of their way to keep in touch, and take time to address the whole child during this experience. This has made me really appreciate how connecting with the students is as important as the education.” Don’t forget to tell your kids how incredible they are, too!
How much patience they have
Repeating instructions over and over, answering the same questions, reteaching the same material: Teachers are zen masters of patience. “This quarantine has made me realize I have no patience and I made the right choice by not pursuing teaching as a career,” says Katie M. of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “It makes me even more grateful for people who do!”
How tough it is to teach more than one kid at a time
“I have three kids at home, and just getting them all to sit down at the same time to do school is hard,” says Mike S. of Logan, Utah. “Trying to help all of them at the same time is insane. I can’t even imagine how their teachers do it with 30 kids at once.” This is just one of the 40 things teachers wish parents understood.
How much they put up with from parents
Before quarantine, parents weren’t necessarily a daily part of the learning process, but now that they are, there’s a whole new type of educating happening. “We have a group chat for my daughter’s class, and I’m amazed at how often the parents will take out their frustration on the teacher, just being rude or telling them what to do,” says Marco R. of San Francisco. “And her teacher always responds so politely. She probably screams into her pillow after. I would.” Are you “that” parent? Here are 20 rude behaviors teachers wish you’d stop.
How they roll with the punches
One day they’re teaching in a classroom with all their supplies. The next, they’re teaching online, from home—and they haven’t missed a beat. “Teachers these days have to be so adaptable,” says Beth S. of Cypress, California. “It’s been hard enough for me to adjust to this new format. I can’t imagine how much more difficult it’s been for them. But they didn’t dig in and resist the change; they’ve just learned new programs, found additional videos, and recorded themselves.”
How fast they have to eat
For many teachers, their lunch “break” is anything but a break as they take on additional duties at the playground, help students, or prep for class. “I realized the other day that I’d been helping my kids do e-learning for four hours straight, and I was starving and had to pee so bad,” says Jennifer D. of Washington, D.C. “If I were my kids’ teachers, I’d have, like, 20 minutes to fit in lunch and the bathroom. It’s crazy!”
How incredibly organized they have to be
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Many teachers know that good classes come from good schedules, as kids thrive on clear expectations—but that scheduling takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work. “I never realized before how organized my daughter’s teacher is,” says Jenny S. of Minneapolis. “She does her morning classroom meetings via Zoom, sends out weekly lesson plans, gives daily instructions to the kids, and manages to do it all in an upbeat and positive way.”
How teaching kids is more than just sharing information
Giving information and even getting children to recite it back is one thing. But getting them to really understand what they are learning and know how to use those lessons in the real world requires an extra level of skill, says Candace J. of Edmonds, Washington. “This has made me appreciate everything teachers do to help my kids not just learn but really understand the lessons,” she explains. Don’t miss these tips from a mom who’s homeschooled her kids for three years.
How their workday never really ends
Teachers are on call all hours of the day. “I got an email from son’s teacher at 2:30 a.m. the other day, and it started, ‘So I just finished grading today’s assignments…,’” says Cole B., of Buffalo, New York. “We do not pay teachers nearly enough!” Check out this teacher’s genius response to the question “What do you make?”
How they are therapists as well as educators
Kids have a tough time learning if they’re overly upset or excited, and it’s often on teachers to help them learn emotional skills as well as classroom skills. “My kids are constantly asking for help on school or personal needs, and then they get close to tears or even cry when they don’t understand,” says Emily G. of Denver. “Times that by 25 for a classroom teacher! Yikes!” Teachers know so much more about your child than you think.
How creative they are in teaching the same thing in different ways
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Explaining grammar and sentence structure will make most adults’ eyes glaze over, much less an antsy child, yet teachers find the most creative ways to do it. “My son’s teacher had them write a story all in emojis and then ‘translate’ it using strong verbs and adjectives,” says Laura C. of Cache Valley, Utah. “It was the cutest thing, and he had such a fun time doing it that he didn’t even realize it was ‘learning.’”
How much weirder math has gotten
It’s one thing to hear complaints about the Common Core; it’s a whole other thing when you have to figure it out enough to teach it to your kids. “Nothing about my kid’s math assignments makes any sense. Even basic things like adding and multiplying are completely different. I had to watch Kahn Academy videos to teach it to myself so I could teach it to my son. It’s second-grade math!” says Annaleise G. of Columbus, Ohio. “I don’t know how teachers keep up with all the changes.” Speaking of which, can you pass this elementary school math test?
How much extra stuff they do in the classroom
School is so much more than smartboards and textbooks. “During regular school, my daughter’s teacher would dress up their class pet every morning for their spelling lesson (it’s a stuffed dog), and it was always one of her favorite parts of the day,” says Ellen H. of Chicago, Illnois. “Now, her teacher still does it over video, and it always makes her giggle. Plus, it inspires her to watch the spelling lesson several times so she can see the funny outfits again!”
How knowledgeable they are
“Seeing some of the videos that my kids’ high school teachers have posted of themselves giving lessons has made me really appreciate the wide variety of knowledge and skills they have,” says Melanie P. of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “I’m so grateful for that, because I definitely couldn’t teach them those things.”
How school librarians don’t get enough love
Gary John Norman/Getty ImagesSchool librarians are a huge part of your child’s education, yet we hardly ever hear about them. “I never realized how much work our school librarian does until she started sending out all of these supplements to the lessons and extra resources and technology videos and other things,” says Arden S. of Salem, Oregon.
How much they care about the whole family
Children spend most of their day at home (especially now!), so it’s no surprise that their home environment has a big impact on their learning. “The school reached out the other day to make sure we had access to a computer and Internet for my son’s classes, but then they also asked about our jobs and if we needed food or any other type of help,” says Leesa G. of Atlanta, Georgia. “I was so touched that our teachers were thinking about all of us.”
How much they really love the kids
Most teachers aren’t just in it for the paycheck—they do what they do because they love their students. “A couple of weeks into distance learning, my son’s teacher started a video chat every Friday morning just because she was missing the kids and she wanted the kids to have a chance to share together,” says Heather S. of Philadelphia, Pennslyvania. “It made me really appreciate how much love she has for her students.” Next, learn the other powerful reasons teachers love their job.
For more on our new normal, including how to stay safe and sane, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.