Creating Parent Teacher Partnership in a Pandemic

Is it me or has there been a shift in the way parents appreciate school teachers? When the COVID-19 lockdown first happened, parent boards on the internet were flooded with gratitude posts and teacher praise. Teachers were finally being understood, appreciated, and some were even classified as modern day saints.  

Now as we move into month six of this lockdown, those same parent boards are now infiltrated with frustrated homeschooling parent memes, and negative attitudes towards teachers. A clear shift has occurred. Unfortunately, teacher’s praises are rare to see. 

Having a few teacher friends, I was curious to learn what were some challenges they were experiencing?  How do they feel about distance learning and protecting their health? What were the misconceptions about teachers that parents should know of? And how can parents work with teachers to ensure a child receives the best possible education during this unprecedented time?

So far, I’ve learned: 

Teachers across the state have been challenged by new learning systems on outdated school technology. The school internet networks are unreliable, making virtual teaching difficult and slower than it has to be. In addition, they aren’t given any input to what systems they should use – the school board decides. 

Some teachers are challenged with students who don’t have internet access at home, and with students who aren’t being monitored due to their parents being essential workers. 

Other teachers have been mandated to work from their classroom, resulting in no other option than to drop off their children at daycare, and gamble with their own families health. Not to mention, they’re having to choose between their livelihoods and their families. This makes distance learning difficult on a personal level. 

Rosio Osuna Urrutia, a 6th grade English Teacher with 22 years of experience in the LA region, shared with me, “Teachers are being called lazy for not wanting to go back to in-person instruction. We’re told we’re non-flexible and that we don’t care about the academic progress of our students. This is strictly not true or fair. Teachers understand that the best place for learning is in the classroom, however we need to consider our own families too.” 

So how can teachers and parents work together to ensure no child is left behind academically? Osuna Urrutia recommends for parents to communicate and be honest with teachers. Parents should share what’s working, what’s not, and how teachers can support parents in feeling less stressed. Teachers understand distance learning isn’t perfect and aren’t expecting parents to do their job. Teachers are only asking for parents to remember that they’re also learning new ways to do things, while being responsible for the safety of their own families.  

In closing, this lockdown has called for unprecedented measures and unpredictable behaviors. As we continue to search for an ounce of normalcy, we shouldn’t lose track of what’s important – that each student receives the best education they can during this pandemic. Creating partnerships with teachers, being honest without judgment, and showing flexibility, are our only solutions to ensure everyone is treated fairly and set up to win.

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Karen Cervantes Jimenez

Karen Cervantes Jimenez

Karen Cervantes Jimenez a grant writer, storyteller, and advocate of the physical and social environment. She believes everyone is unique and that by sharing their personal stories, they can make a difference in education. She is an LAUSD and CalState University of Northridge alumna. In addition, she is an Autism Awareness and Emotional Intelligence advocate. She has three children (who are her inspiration) and lives with her family in Buena Park, CA.

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