My heart aches for the kids. Everything about my mom self is so painfully aware of what they have missed. There is no age group, from Pre-K to College, that has not suffered great loss. I have no answers. I have only thoughts about children in their living rooms, staring at screens, and thoughts about children learning masked in gyms and auditoriums. I hurt for their parents that had to decide which horrible option was better, and for the kids who fear things that are too heavy to be carried on young shoulders.
I cry real tears for my senior. My class of 2021 girl who has no real way to celebrate her full scholarship to a private university. There have been 12 days of school, since March of 2020. There will be no prom. I am not sure that there will be a graduation. I find it unlikely there will be a yearbook.
I get it. I truly do. Nothing is as it should be.
But, I have to talk about something we don’t talk about enough.
We are angry. We are looking for a place to but blame. So we throw it around anywhere we can. And often. Way too often. It lands on the teachers.
I know. Before you stop to tell me. I know. I know about the teacher who logs on for 30 minutes a day. I know about the teacher who doesn’t know her student’s names. I know about the one who is in Aruba. Teaching on a beach. I know.
But the ones we don’t talk about are the other ones. The dirty little secret of the educational debacle that is this pandemic.
There are so many teachers that have gathered all their resolve and put themselves in front of a camera every day. There are teachers who sit at that camera from 8-2 with minimal breaks, and then turn the camera off only for the real work to begin.
Sometimes we need to talk about the teachers who had a change of assignment so drastic they had to relearn curriculum for things they haven’t taught in over a decade. Those are probably the senior teachers. The ones that don’t cause trouble. The ones everyone is sure can handle everything.
Those teachers probably began the year with student copies of books that their kids don’t have. So they can take pictures and post slides for the kids to follow along, while they lecture students on things that really will only sink in when they are demonstrated, touched, and played with.
Those are the teachers who didn’t know what Google Drive was. Who taught themselves through YouTube videos. Those are the teachers who then taught the kids to navigate a digital notebook. In a house where they aren’t allowed to print. And no one is home. And their grandparents want to help, but they don’t know what to do. And the language barriers preclude even a conversation with an adult in many cases.
Those are the teachers setting up science experiments at their desks. Under a subpar document camera they bought on Amazon while creating google forms, and slides of everything.
Those are the teachers who are trying to make things easier for the kids while checking on the mental health of those same kids, which their heart and their mind and their soul and their eyes tell them is failing.
Those are the teachers setting up virtual classrooms and trying to motivate kids in any which way they can. Those are the teachers who feel like they are teaching in shackles.
Those teachers. The ones trying to make it ok, they hear you.
They hear you when you talk.
They hear you when you say to stop paying the teachers. They hear you when you malign and belittle an entire profession for the sins of a few. They read the words because they are so cut off from people. Until they sometimes have to just turn off the news and the social media and isolate themselves further.
They hear you. They see you.
They don’t answer you. Because they are sitting. At their computer.
Ignoring their health. Many are where they are because of very real health issues.
They are tired.
They are neglecting their families. And doing what they can to save the children in their care from the loss of an instructional year.
They are there for HOURS. Reading the words your children type. Providing the feedback your children need. EVERYTHING takes FOREVER.
Those teachers are hurt. And they are hurting. They are in an impossible situation. They are lonely. They are alone. And they will not give up.
They would not want that for their own children.
They got into this profession to do better for the children. All of the children.
So I will leave you with a message from all these teachers. It is the same lesson we are giving the children. But, I think the grown-ups need it more.
Be kind. Always.
You know that teacher who you are really grateful to have in your world right now? Reach out to them and tell them.
Trust me. They need it.
They don’t need money. They don’t need gifts. They don’t need fame.
They need to know that their work matters. They need THAT fuel.
And, please. Stop. Think before you speak. Or type. We are all that we have.