Educator pleads to let go of ‘catching up’ at school in viral post

By GENEVIEVE SHAW BROWN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) — After months of remote, hybrid and distance learning, parents are justifiably concerned about their children’s educations. But one life-long educator thinks “catching up” is an idea that should be reconsidered.

In a Facebook post that’s been shared thousands of times, Teresa Thayer Snyder wrote, “After a lifetime of working among the young, I feel compelled to address the concerns that are being expressed by so many of my peers about the deficits the children will demonstrate when they finally return to school. My goodness, what a disconcerting thing to be concerned about in the face of a pandemic which is affecting millions of people around the country and the world.”

She continued, “It speaks to one of my biggest fears for the children when they return. In our determination to ‘catch them up,’ I fear that we will lose who they are and what they have learned during this unprecedented era. What on earth are we trying to catch them up on?”

Benchmarks and “arbitrary measures,” she wrote, “simply do not apply.”

Snyder told Good Morning America she’s “absolutely stunned” by the reach and reaction to her post.

“[Children] have endured a year that has no parallel in modern times,” she wrote. “There is no assessment that applies to who they are or what they have learned.”

“Remember, their brains did not go into hibernation during this year. Their brains may not have been focused on traditional school material, but they did not stop either. Their brains may have been focused on where their next meal is coming from, or how to care for a younger sibling, or how to deal with missing grandma, or how it feels to have to surrender a beloved pet, or how to deal with death. Our job is to welcome them back and help them write that history,” Snyder wrote.

Children, Snyder told GMA, are coping with a “horrific worldwide event.”

“Many are hungry, many are homeless, many are dealing with the loss of loved ones,” she said.

Teaching, she said, is “above all else, relational and these children are missing that relational aspect of learning, despite the heroic efforts of my colleagues to continue to teach them.”

She believes they should be welcomed back to school with “many avenues to process their experiences. Academics will come with helping them process what is even difficult for us to process.”

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