First and foremost, this blog doesn’t not in any way shape or fashion about my school district. In fact, I’ve never been more thankful to work in a district like ours, one where we have been proactive from Day 1 during this pandemic, working for the good of ALL the people in our family: students, parents, teacher, paraprofessionals, administrators, cooks, janitors, coaches, and any other educators I might have missed. I feel as though our superintendent and my principal have communicated in a timely matter, they’ve been upfront with our expectations, yet, they’ve given us the leeway to sit in the corner and cry for a while. Whatever our new normal looks like after Covid-19, I need to read this when I’m feeling like “Damn, why another thing to do??” Yes, I’ve been busy, but I’ve also been given that grace.
My problem with this, I know teachers around the country, heck, right here in Northeast Iowa, who are NOT given that grace. Packets of work are expected to be printed, videos uploaded, hell, grades taken. And when they reach out for help, when they reach out to their instructional coaches, principals, technology departments, they are doing things all wrong, that’s not grace.
Teachers from all over are feeling the weight of being parents and being teachers all in the same moment. I cannot begin to imagine how my those in our own district with smaller children are managing this crisis. Hell, my kids are still at college and I’m not managing it all that well worrying about them!
(rantoff/ Totally off my rant, I got a coupon in my email from Blaze Pizza offering free salad with fresh mozzarella with the purchase of a large pizza, so we bought both our daughters supper tonight from the comfort of our own home! ranton/)
Comb through Twitter and you’ll see countless educators being asked to log hours, log phone calls, pushed into one size fits all technology “solutions”, all the while feeling that no one gives two sh*t about them. Grace? I think not.
Mistakes will be made, period. For lack of a better cliché, we are in uncharted waters, building the airplane while it’s flying or whatever stupid thing you like to say. Why aren’t educators allowed to make those same mistakes? For many, myself include, this is our first time into distance learning, and it’s not easy. It’s not easy to present a lesson without the non-verbal feedback (it’s not easy to do it without Jimmy in the back being a pain in the butt!). I started my almost daily vlog, The Covid Collection, to connect with students on a different level. It’s not very “teacherly”, but that’s not the point. I wanted to try something new and gave myself the grace to fail if it happened. I’ve reached out to several teachers I know online who simply have not been given that, whether it was through their blog, their online lesson, venting their frustrations on social media, or something else. We are always held to a higher standard, which is somewhat unfair, but in these times, it seems like that standard has been set even higher and for what, so people in control can feel good about “making sure we are working”?
People wonder why there are fewer and fewer students going into education. They wonder why educators are leaving the profession in droves. If you pay attention to what’s going with teachers right now, you get the snapshot of why. Work hours questioned, motivation questioned, professionalism questioned, during something that has not happened in several generations. So, if you are considering reaming out your child’s teacher because a link doesn’t work, stop and think, does that teacher have a family? Are they caring for parents or grandparents? Did their spouse or significant other just get laid off? Are they tied up with anxiety about their own kids’ learning? We don’t know each other’s stories, so just reach out, explain the problem (the link), and thank them for getting to it when they can. Chances are, someone else has already emailed them and done so in a snarky manner. Your calm email might be just what they need at this moment in time.
I know we are all under stress from Covid-19. However, educators all over the world are doing their best job possible, right now, to educate with tools they are unfamiliar in using. Give them the grace you’d expect to be given to you if you were thrust into a new situation with very little training and told to perform well on the spot. We aren’t asking for much, because as this drags out, we’ll get better. But right now, show a little empathy and realize, none of us are well.
Give us some grace and we’ll figure it out. Give us this “do it now and my way” line of crap, and you’ll lose many more teachers than you’ll ever be able to bully.