While I’ve never watched Survivor, I definitely understand the premise of the show. With limited options, you must show you are able to fend and provide for yourself. In becoming an educator more than twenty years ago, I don’t recall a single class or contract alluding to the idea that I could possibly have to mirror a contestant on Survivor. Yet, for the past year, that’s how I’ve felt. I feel like I’m on a deserted island trying to figure it out, not only for my sake but for the sake of trusting students that depend on me everyday, if for nothing more than consistency.
This week I watched the news and witnessed students being interviewed. I heard the tales of students feeling defeated and experiencing anxiety more than usual. And then one student complained about a teacher taking four days to respond to her email. That morning I watched my balloon spin across the room as all of the air I had blown into it vanished. I was deflated. I noticed every student being interviewed was attending school virtually while few teachers have that option in most states.
I was bothered because in all my years of being an educator, I have noticed people seem to believe teachers are invincible and have some type of super power that keeps us void of experiencing all the tragedies that others experience. I am sick and tired of fighting for us to be acknowledged as human beings first. The high school student was upset the teacher took four days to respond to an email. Let’s go down the list of reasons it might have taken so long.
- The teacher was experiencing health issues. Not necessarily Covid, but we are in the middle of cold and flu season. The teacher needed an opportunity to regroup so he/she could better support the students.
- It was a high school teacher. He/She is probably teaching an additional 150 students in addition to the 150 students that are assigned to them under normal circumstances. Your email was just one of hundreds that needed a response.
- The teacher probably had a faculty meeting because clearly we don’t have enough meetings at this point. We love being online all day.
- The teacher had training for state testing. Because while students were at home, we were still being prepped for this seminal moment that dictates the teacher’s future more than the student’s future.
- The teacher has a family. After countless days of logging in early and logging out late because the teacher is not sure if students understand the concept, the teacher decided to focus on what is more important. Or if the teacher has a spouse like me, the spouse said, “Enough is enough. Shut it down.”
These are just a few of the reasons the teacher might not have responded but the list could go on until next week. Too many people have become way too comfortable with being inhumane with regards to educators. These very students have parents at home that could offer a little more support. I’m sure they also have siblings that could provide them with assistance. But the idea that you’ve made it to high school and you don’t have the gumption to try and figure something out after four days behooves me.
As educators we are asked to pivot everyday. We have to transition from online to face to face and vice versa with a snap of a finger. We are living by the motto, “Stay ready so you won’t have to get ready.” Last week all of my face to face students were made to quarantine with the exception of one student. I had to come to work everyday to teach one student while everybody else was expected to receive instruction online. I found out after the students should have been in class, they were not coming and I was supposed to rush and send them an invite although their scheduled time had passed. Let’s not mention, I couldn’t put them on the schedule because their face to face class time overlaps with a virtual class (different content I might add) so access to create a new class was denied. Oh, and did I mention some of the students didn’t have technology so I had to create packets and drop them off to students that had been quarantined? My point…we don’t want to hear it. We’re being put on the front lines everyday and for what? To hear criticism, to never feel appreciated, to have more duties assigned to us.
This is our reality, today and everyday. The next time you hear someone complaining about a teacher, on behalf of me and my fellow educators, encourage them to get over themselves. Please and thank you.