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From A Teacher: Things I Hope You Remember When This Pandemic Is Over

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Low angle view of teacher with face mask after lockdown
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Tears. Hugs. Threats. Dances. Therapy. Mediation. Rolling eyes. All before 8:15 in the morning.

Attempting to overcome impacts of a child’s 365, 24/7 environment like a winded asthmatic climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. Juggling two dozen personalities simultaneously like a Cirque du Soleil performer without the ability to discipline as you would discipline your own. Juggling the parents of those personalities, the administration handing down policies that lack alignment with the structure of modern mindsets and holistic goals. Managing a society that feels entitled to dictate how you do your job. Managing a society that feels it can do your job better than you, but fails to put actions where critiques lie. Actions in the form of actually being immersed in the profession to truly understand what it encompasses.

Now you feel the load of our jobs not ending at 3pm. Even though the contract says 8am, it begins before our morning shower.

You understand, now, that teaching encompasses more than standing in front of a classroom of students teaching multiplication strategies and phonetics.

You now understand that the facets of my classroom should be a supplement, an enhancement, to what is being exposed at home. You now understand that it was not the best idea to assume a 21st century classroom is still operated like a 20th century classroom.

During this time of decision-making, re-adjusting, and pandemic fears, I hope you remember how important teachers’ impacts are to your child’s well being. I hope you don’t forget that we are still in a daily fight for time, compensation, and appreciation. I hope you remember that the average teacher in America must work two jobs to pay basic living expenses. I hope you remember that the average teacher in America has a side hustle.

I hope you remember that a small increase in pay wages lie in increasing one’s education; which lies in the question, how will I pay for this with my current wages?

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I hope you remember the cost of tuition; and the average district doesn’t even reimburse the cost of one course.

I hope you remember that the old adage, “those who can’t, teach” is a fool’s adage— not that of a wise person.

I hope you remember that the summer is necessary to recover, catch up, and prepare.

I hope you remember that the average teacher chose the profession and enjoys it. I hope you remember that new teachers are not staying in the profession long because the workload-to-time-to-pay ratio is deplorable.

I hope you remember these reasons support the massive teacher shortages across the country.

I hope you remember recruitment of new teachers into the profession is difficult due to its lackluster quality of life appeal.

I hope you remember that teachers put in similar hours as executives, but make substantially less.

I hope you remember that the average teacher is not seeking to be a millionaire from the profession — no, not even close — but to be able to live comfortably off of one’s teacher salary (while paying for work supplies required for one’s students and working 12 hour days seven days a week) would be nice.

I hear you saying “but that’s your choice.” I hope you remember how critical you would be if a child did not have the supplies and classroom environment desired to be successful.

I hope you remember it is the recent blessing of a site called DonorsChoose that has been the most helpful in assisting teachers in getting tools for their students—-donors.

I hope you remember that to plan an engaging lesson, it takes the time to prepare.

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I hope you remember that administrators believe that 40 minutes per day during the school day is enough time to plan instruction, grade assignments, collect and analyze student achievement data, copy assignments, communicate with parents, eat lunch, and use the washroom.

I hope you remember many times you have students who still may require your attention during this “planning period.”

Please don’t let it escape from your recall that instruction needs to be prepared for the day before you walk through the door. Please don’t let it escape from your recall that you’d be considered an ineffective teacher if you don’t have your instruction planned for several weeks in advance.

Please don’t let it escape from your recall that differentiation is the currently trending “teaching pedagogy strategy” to be implemented. Teach every student where they are” — yet I have 21 students in my class and I must teach the advanced, the at grade level, and the below grade level, all in the same timeframe of the day.

Then your solution is “extend the school day and the school year.” You negated to account for the average attention span of children, and how exhausting school and life is for teachers, students, and parents alike.

I hope you remember that an extension of time will reduce students’ time to spend with their families, and well, time to just be kids. Did you forget how important these components are to a child’s mental and emotional stability?

I hope you remember how important teachers and other service providers were to you at the height of the pandemic chaos; and adjust the compensation and decision-making capacity to reflect.

Teachers! What action will we collectively take to make sure the acknowledgement of our invaluable contribution to society does not diminish without the improvements we have been battling to have imposed for decades? I have an idea . . .

#FALLOFNORETURN

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