Give Grace
posted by: Melissa | January 27, 2022, 10:29 PM   

Today's Post is a guest post by 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year Jessica Saum.

What started as a two week “break” to slow the spread in March of 2020, is showing no sign of going away as we rapidly approach the two year mark of life and education impacted by COVID.

People are increasingly feeling burnt out from mandates, lockdowns, quarantines, social distancing, masks and anything else that has disrupted our former way of life. Schools continue to modify and adjust their approaches, but with no easy answers or obvious fix many may wonder, what can we do?

This is not an attempt to minimize legitimate concerns and struggles or to dismiss the difficulties plaguing life and education with toxic positivity. We cannot ignore what we are facing daily, but we must resolve to determine how we can continue and overcome it. We must give grace. When we consider grace, we should understand that it is related to being grateful. When we are asked to extend grace to someone else, we are giving them favor or approval that they may not have necessarily earned. For us to do that, we must choose to look at a person with compassion, sympathy, and concern. We also must be intentional in choosing to extend the same patience and understanding to everyone enduring this crisis as you would hope to receive yourself.

Give grace to students. I cannot emphasize this enough. Many are starting their educational careers without the experiences of preschool and we must accept that many of our kindergarten students will not have the skills academically or socially that previous classes had. Know that their parents tried but the current COVID-impacted lives simply have been different for these little people and they are doing their best. Give grace to the students who have missed so many milestones in their education. They have missed field trips, sporting events, dances, and proms. They have carried on and have shown spectacular resiliency, but they are struggling too. The negative impacts COVID has had on their mental health will not go away anytime soon. Stop telling them they are behind with COVID learning loss and continue to teach them every day, ensuring they achieve their greatest potential. Give them grace. They want to succeed, even if that success looks and feels different than it did before.

Give grace to the parents that come across irritated, short, and just plain rude. They’re tired too. They’re frustrated with their children missing school, with having to miss work themselves, with feeling unprepared for teaching their children at home. They’re missing out on class parties, proms, graduations, sports, and other memorable events just like their children. They sometimes do not know who else to be frustrated with besides schools which means teachers. They share some of the same fears their children have as well as that of the teachers who are educating them. Parents were thrust, and in many cases continue to be thrust into the role of home school educator without the training and experience we needed as teachers, all while trying to maintain their other responsibilities and oftentimes their own career. Give grace, they’re trying.

Give grace to those who work in education—all of the dedicated and selfless individuals who are trying their best to show up and care for other people’s children each and every day. Teachers feel like they are often giving their students their best, sometimes at the expense of their own children and families. Teachers spend hours after school and on weekends working to ensure the students they teach continue to learn and to be supported emotionally. Teachers feel exhausted and overwhelmed but daily welcome your child into their classrooms (and hearts) with a smile, a positive word, and a safe place to learn. All of those in education, the teachers, the teachers’ aides, the kitchen staff, the custodial workers, the bus drivers, the administrators, they all truly do want what is best for your children. For the love, they are adapting to new rules and ways of learning and teaching everyday as well, give them grace.

Give grace to yourself. Know that what is happening this week likely will change next week, and then again the week after that. Accept that things are hard and that they may be for a while, but know that they won’t be forever. Understand that it is ok to feel every emotion you’re feeling whether it be scared, concerned, or even sometimes angry, but that how you handle and express those emotions is what matters. Choose to embrace the fact that your mindset matters and influences not only your attitude but the attitude of those around you. Give yourself grace when you mess up or want to give up, you deserve it.

“What is so amazing about grace is that it is free - free for imperfect and unworthy people like us”.
Emily Ley


Jessica Saum is a native of Columbia, South Carolina but calls Sherwood, Arkansas home. Currently, she is a self-contained special education teacher at Stagecoach Elementary School in Cabot, Arkansas teaching students in kindergarten through fourth grade. Jessica has been an ASTA and AAEF Advocacy Fellow since 2021 and is the 2022 Arkansas Teacher of the Year. Jessica is a proud military spouse and is passionate about advocating for the unique needs of military families.

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