It’s August, and for parents, children, and teachers all over America, that means one thing: Back to School!
This year, though, something is undeniably different. Namely, everything. Everything is different. We’re doing our back to school shopping online or in mask, Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer are the must have accessories, and politicians, parents, and teachers are arguing about when or if students should be in the classroom again.
While there are plenty of valid points to be made about the wisdom of being cautious about reopening our schools and about the best/safest way to begin the school year, honestly, these decisions are above my pay grade. Instead, I’m choosing to focus on some of the things that are a bit more under my control. (In the interest of full disclosure, I will say I am actually pretty happy with the way my school is approaching the new year.) As always, my circumstances are out of my hands, but my response is on me.
I think this incredibly important for those of us who are in leadership positions over children, whether it be as parents, teachers, administrators, or anyone else who a child looks up to. As they prepare to go back to school, us being anxious, nervous, or even scared is a totally natural and acceptable way to feel. What is not acceptable, though, is to force our anxieties, nerves, and fears on the children in our care.
To be clear, I’m not here to tell you how to feel about the reopening of schools. What I am saying, though, is that one of our primary jobs is to keep these kids safe. Only slightly less important than them actually being safe, though, is making sure they feel safe. The children around you are looking to you to be a source of security and calm in the midst of chaos. They are looking for you to be the eye of this storm, the fixed point in their spinning universe. Be that for them.
When we are back at school, and I eventually have kids in my classroom, they’ll be wearing masks. If one of their masks slips down, will I tell them to fix their mask? Sure. Will I freak out and tell them that they’re putting their classmates lives at risk? Of course not. I’m supposed to help them move past their anxiety, not give them some of mine.