As a teacher, you would think that your interactions would be limited to your colleagues and students. But I am sure you know by now that a large part of your interactions would be with the parents and guardians of your students too.
Even before the pandemic set in, communicating with parents about their children in your care can feel like a very intense diplomatic mission. One slip up could lead things down the part to chaos and despair. Okay fine. I am being a tad dramatic but if you have ever sat down to have a tete á tete with a very concerned parent, you know exactly what I mean.
Now throw in a pandemic that has set everyone on the edge and pretty much-turned life as we know it upside down, that conversation does not get any easier. If anything else, things are a lot tenser.
This is a disease with a hold so strong that wiping down your desk every 15minutes, washing your hands frequently, and wearing a face mask is not going to be enough to keep you safe. You need the next person to be just as fastidious and when you are in a classroom with kids, the “next person” also includes their family which primarily would be their parents. You see where I am going with all this?
Now, this is just from one perspective. If you look at things from the other perspective, you have parents who are equally freaked out about the situation if not more so.
Their wards whom they protect with everything that they own is going to be in an environment where their children’s safety could be compromised if other people (parents of other children, school administration etc.) fail to take the necessary action.
And unfortunately, the only person they can take out their frustration on is you, the teacher. But as a teacher, this is part of what you signed up for. Thankfully, because a lot of schools are still closed, classes are being carried out online.
Does this mean that your interactions with parents are less? No. These parents will be welcoming you into their living rooms! So, how do you deal with parents during these very unusual times?
The secret to any thriving relationship is communication. It can be even more exhausting during this period but you have to relentlessly keep at it. Talk to the parents about the study schedule of their ward. Let them know what their responsibilities are. Most importantly, always inform them beforehand on what to expect.
This is all new to them as it probably is to you. They might require some hand-holding in the initial stages especially if they are not too tech-savvy. Try not to dump too much information on them at once. Take it step by step.
Also, remember to be open to honest feedback. This is a new territory for everyone and no matter how much planning you might have done, you may not be able to get everything right at once. If they don’t offer feedback, check in with them to know how things are progressing. The response you get might hold the key to tweaking the system in favor of everyone.
2. Update Yourself Regularly
Until the pandemic is brought under tight control, things are going to be different. Unfortunately, this is something that is completely new and no single person has all the answers. A lot of new information will come to light every day as research is being conducted.
If you look at the timeline of the covid 19, the information about how our bodies interact with the virus has always been reviewed. At first, it was thought to be something that mostly affected elderly people or people with compromised immune systems. Today, we know that kids can be greatly affected, and not only that.
It is possible to not be affected but still be an active transmitter of the disease. These new information help shape what education is going to look like and impacts the role that you play in that process as a teacher.
This in turn will help you maintain a more productive relationship with parents as you are better informed on how to help keep their wards safe. So, endeavor to stay updated on these changes. However, for the sake of your mental health try not to be so obsessed with the news.
3. Maintain a Positive Attitude
Attitude is everything when you are teaching virtually or even physically. It is easy to give in to the negativity and despair brought on by the pandemic but always remind yourself that you are a powerful survivor and this is just one of those things that you will get through.
Allow this knowledge to inspire you to continue to bring fun and positive cheer into your virtual classroom. When parents see that their children look forward to your classes every day, they will feel more confident about your ability to teach the kids without their intervention.
When parents are confident in you, dealing with them gets so much easier. Just remember, it all starts with a positive mindset. Feed your mind and mental space with positive thoughts. If you need to include meditation in your routine in order to achieve this, do it. Positive affirmations may sound cliche but they work wonders if you find ones that resonate with you. Do this and watch your relationship with your students and their parents improve for the better.
On one final note, give yourself room to decompress emotionally. You are a teacher and you belong to the clad of unsung heroes. So much is expected of you and the financial reward for all that labor is not exactly great but if this is truly your calling, you would understand how much of a privilege it is to be in a position to shape the great minds of tomorrow. But first, you need to take care of yourself. Eat healthily, find a good de-stressing activity, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.