“When I was in third grade and learning multiplication, I decided it was imperative for my kindergarten brother to learn as well, and I was very proud when I managed to teach him his ‘zero times tables.’ When I was in middle school, I was home-schooled and my teacher-mother made me write my own lesson plans, complete with objectives, Bloom’s Taxonomy activities, and project-based assessments. When I was in high school, I coached gifted elementary kids on Odyssey of the Mind teams.
I put myself through college working as a teacher’s aide, a daycare teacher, and a piano teacher. I was an education major who got a job straight out of college, and except for the two years I was a stay-at-home-mom, I have been teaching my whole career–over twenty years. I have taught every single grade, from preschool through college. I have taught in private and public schools. I even taught in Nevada State Prison. The point is, I have been teaching my entire life. It is in my blood; it is intrinsic to who I am. And, yet, with teacher report week now upon us, I am completely frozen.
When I sit down to plan lessons, my brain freezes. I have absolutely no idea what to do. The restrictions being placed upon us are incomprehensible. The thought of working without those restrictions equally insane. Teaching online and in-person simultaneously? Teaching choir without singing? Trying to create a safe environment (both emotionally and physically)? Developing any relationships with new students I may only see once a week? Holding it together until the school district finally moves us entirely online, and then struggle with that soul-crushing means of educating?
I know I have been beating this drum all summer. However, I want this reality firmly in people’s minds. I am not a health care worker. I am not a grocery store clerk. My job resembles none of the other essential workers I’m being compared to. I am not lazy. I am not entitled. I am a teacher and my job has been turned upside down, inside out, shredded, and then handed back to me with the instruction to ‘make it work.’ I am not blaming my school district. I am not blaming anxious or angry parents. I am not in a blaming place. I am asking anyone reading this to lead with compassion.
Whether you think you ‘aren’t a teacher,’ and need schools to ‘open up’ so you don’t have to ‘home school’ anymore…I need you to put that thought aside. We need to be a team. Teachers are not going to be able to educate in any way that we have ever been trained, ever tried, ever attempted, ever been successful at, etc. We are all going to be existing in a completely foreign environment, trying to keep ourselves from drowning, all while trying to do the best by kids. Parents need to step up as well. They need to stand in the gap with teachers, helping with homework, helping with technology, giving teachers the benefit of the doubt that we are absolutely doing everything we can.
This is out of our control. Work with us, not against us.”
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