If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent many sleepless nights worrying about your decision to send your child back to Brick and Mortar school. While many people around the country wish they were in a position to have had a choice to send their child back to a traditional school, sometimes the weight of that decision felt heavier than not having options at all. Between concerns about our children getting sick, the constant chatter about how different everything in school would look, and the guilt over potentially making the wrong choice, a time of year that parents would normally be rejoicing over (hello Spring Break 2020 FINALLY ending!), became filled with stress and anxiety.

If you are a parent that did make the decision to send your child back to Brick and Mortar schools and have spent any amount of time browsing social media, you no doubt have come across posts, blogs, and articles that have painted a very depressing picture of what our children’s classrooms look like this year. You’ve surely conjured up images of children sitting alone behind shields, unable to socialize with friends, and sweating in masks all day. You’ve probably heard rumors that all of the joy of regular school is gone. You know things are different, but will the benefits of in-school instruction still outweigh the negatives?

While I can’t tell you that everything is exactly the same as it used to be in classrooms this year, what I can reassure you of, based on my years of experience as a teacher, is that some things about school will never change. There are positive constants about places of learning that even pandemics can’t take away. Here is what you can expect from Brick and Mortar schools this year, and every year after for that matter.

Teachers will roll with the punches.

Adapting to change is what teachers do best. It doesn’t matter if a teacher has taught 1 year or 30, being flexible and making adjustments based on student needs is part of their DNA. Even though the current state of education was never brought up on the teacher certification exam, know that your child’s teacher has been thrown curveballs and jumped through hoops their entire career. From curriculum to safety procedures, to educational philosophy, your child’s teacher knows how to, in the words of Ross, PIVOT, like a boss.

Teachers will love and challenge their students.

If you think a plastic shield or a cotton mask is going to keep a teacher from brightening a child’s day or encouraging them to do their best, then you have clearly never seen an educator in action. From teaching in classrooms with broken AC units to purchasing supplies with their own money, I can assure you that teachers do not let obstacles get in the way of doing what is needed for their “kids.” They will love them like they always have and maybe even a little extra this year!

Teachers will make school feel like a second home.

No matter what the year holds, school always ends up feeling like your child’s second home. After all, they spend more waking hours with their teacher and peers than they do at home. Their teacher and classmates become their bonus family. It doesn’t matter what the classroom looks like, it will still be that familiar, safe place to laugh, joke, and feel at home like it always has been.

So, while we don’t know exactly what this school year will entail, and things can certainly change in an instant, I take comfort in the things that always remain true about Brick and Mortar schools. The adaptability of educators, their love that can’t be hidden by even the thickest of masks, and their ability to make even the smallest portable feel like a home away from home, is what helps me sleep at night these days. School may be different this year, but some things will always be the same.

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Karen Smith
Karen was born in Ohio but spent most of her childhood in Florida. She attended the University of Florida, where she met her husband, and she got her Master’s in Elementary Education at the University of South Florida. She taught first grade in Tampa until her oldest son was born. Her plans to return to the classroom changed when her husband’s job brought them to Pennsylvania where they welcomed another son. The following years brought them to Raleigh and then St. Augustine. After spending two years substitute teaching in St. Johns County, Karen is now teaching VPK at a local preschool. She enjoys days on the water with her family, reading “chick lit” with a glass of wine, pretending to be Ina Garten in the kitchen, and cheering on her Gators. She embraces all things #boymom and has never met a doughnut/taco/pasta that she didn’t like.

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