Expectations are Everything this School Year

Metro Parent's COO gets real about what this year's school year will be like and offers some resources to help parents get through.

Young girl wearing a mask holding a pencil and looking at the camera

Let’s just own something right out of the gate: This school year is going to be the worst.

Doesn’t matter who you are and how you’ve chosen to educate your child this year — if you even had a choice. It’s going to be a crappy year.

It’s exhausting for those who will be guiding their children in online studies this fall.

It’s scary for those sending their kids to school buildings with masks and social distancing reminders.

It’s stressful for teachers who are putting themselves at risk or struggling to connect and teach online.

It’s terrifying for some kids who are having in-person instruction or tedious for other kids who are stuck at home for the foreseeable future.

It’s devastating to the parent of a child with special needs who watches their child’s hard-earned progress slip away day by day.

So, while I try to be a positive person, to pivot quickly to the silver lining in a situation or focus on the areas where I’m fortunate, it’s hard to make that mental shift in this situation for parents, students or teachers.

In this month’s issue of Metro Parent, we focus on how difficult this situation has been for parents — and how united we are in grappling with this decision — no matter how different our 2020-21 school year may be. We also offer advice on IEPs for children with special needs during this pandemic.

We don’t pretend to have easy answers. We know that we can’t lift the cloud of this crisis we are all living. But we hope the advice and perspectives in these pages and online at MetroParent.com help you get through it.

I often say that “expectations are everything.” What I mean is this: If our expectations are high and the experience doesn’t measure up, we’re disappointed. If we align our expectations with the likely reality of the situation and we exceed what we imagined, we’re delighted. So, while it may seem simplistic, tempering our expectations for this school year, owning that it’s going to “rhymes with puck” can make it more bearable, particularly if it’s not as bad as we thought.

We are resilient. So are our kids.

We will get through this. You will get through this.

We are here to help. But we are not alone.

WDET 101.9 held an Education Town Hall last month, and I helped moderate a panel for parents. I was bowled over by the resources and insights offered from our panelists Tanya Pitkin of Michigan PTA; Jeffrey Miles of the Center for Early Childhood Excellence at United Way for Southeastern Michigan; Novi therapist Tara Michener; Marcie Lipsitt of the Michigan Alliance for Special Education; Chandra Montgomery Nicol, executive director of Clonlara School in Ann Arbor; Oak Park High School teacher Owen Bondono, Michigan Teacher of the Year; Bernita Bradley, Detroit education advocate and founder of The Village; and Maria Montoya, enrollment and parent engagement specialist for K-12 schools.

They made me feel hopeful that there is help for those struggling to educate their children this school year. We’ll post a list of these tips and resources on our website. Check it out, and let us know how we can help.

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