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One Doesn't Speak For All

You know what really ticks me off? When people assume things about you and your feelings on something without even asking you.

This happened to me today. In a conversation with someone, this person said to me, “Well, you’re a teacher, you must mad you’re at work.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

This guy wasn’t trying to come after me. I realize that. What he was doing, is seeing some of the media coverage of teachers railing against going back to school as a “massive health risk.”

Not going to lie here, I sort of enjoyed the first couple of weeks remote learning in the spring last year. It was pretty cool. I could wake up a half hour before my first class started at 8. This instead of waking up at 5am to hitch a ride to work and get there at about 6:40. That got old really quick. After about a month I got sick of staring at a computer screen all day and seeing kids either not paying attention, or severely struggling to retain any information. Not only that, I began to lose my mind. The lack of social contact was taking its toll on me. I’m an adult (depending on who you ask) and the struggles were having negative effects on my mental health. I can only imagine the irreversible damage that the students are going to suffer from for years after this is over.

I get that Covid is a serious thing. Schools were hesitant to open up due to the risk. It makes sense. As data began to come out, it has been almost scientifically proven that schools are the least of our worries. There definitely needed to be some time in the beginning to see how this was all going to work. That being said, getting kids back to school needed to be priority number one.

Remote learning is a stress on everyone. The parents who have to balance their job with also assisting their kids at school. Let’s face it, not all parents are trained educators. I know most gave their best efforts, but there is a reason they are doing other jobs. Being remote is awful for kids in almost every fashion. They don’t get the kind of instruction from a computer that they get from an in person education. Look at it from a social perspective. They aren’t getting to see their friends and talk to different people every day. Those who may not have the best social skills aren’t getting those controlled opportunities to work on those skills. Physically, sitting in front of a screen all day is horrible for kids’ health. It is just all around a terrible long term form of education.

Alos, as much as teacher-haters want to think, remote learning is no picnic for teachers either. I can only speak for myself and my direct colleagues, but we worked incredibly hard to do the best we could with the special education students we had. We spent hours on calls with each other trying to figure out how we were going to do it every day. Not to mention the hours we spent chasing students to come onto the zoom calls. And this year, as a physical education teacher, if a kid doesn’t want to do the activity I plan, I am powerless to modify it enough to get them involved. And I don’t know how many of you have tried doing a PE lesson with 15 kindergarteners over the computer, but in case you’re wondering, it is borderline impossible.

That’s just me. I can’t speak for everyone. I didn’t get into the teaching profession to sit at home and watch kids struggle. I’m sure I’m going to get hundreds of horror stories from parents who had horrible remote experiences. Just like any group, there are some terrible teachers out there.

I do think I speak for the vast majority of teachers when I say that we want to be in school. The good ones want to do best by the community, parents and especially the kids. We are all getting a horrible scar on our reputations because of these big unions like in Chicago that are refusing to go back to school. Unions were designed to protect teachers, and usually have the best of intentions. In this case, that is not the case. I will personally shame any union leader who says, even after being given a vaccine, that they refuse to go back. The government should mandate these teachers either come back to school, or don’t bother ever coming back. I happen to know several individuals who got laid off and could use a teaching job. And would be damn good teachers for that matter.

Me saying that has probably screwed me as far as the union goes. If I’m being honest, they really didn’t do much for me when I really needed them a few years back.

Let’s face it, this is an unprecedented time. We are all feeling it. Nobody is feeling it more than the kids in school. Some may say those who have lost their jobs, homes or loved ones. But I urge you to think of the kids who are dealing with all of those horrible things, and can’t even go to school for 6 hours a day to get some kind of distraction from all of it.

When you shun those big unions for keeping your kids out of school, do me a favor. Just remember that there are good teachers out there who are doing all we can. Also be sure to know, I agree with you 100%.

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