Today was one of those rare days when nothing happened. At least nothing happened that inspired me to write. However, I’ve gotten in the habit of writing daily and I wanted to keep that going. So, I’ve decided to write about what is coming for those of us in the teaching profession.
Every district is different. Some already have students coming face to face while others haven’t even begun at all. Most are somewhere in between. My district is about to finish its third week of virtual instruction. We will move to face to face instruction next week. Houston ISD will be going online for the first time next week. Others are in different places. However, every district eventually will be face to face by October.
Except, they won’t be completely face to face. Virtually every district has given families the option of learning virtually and coming back to campus. Of course, teachers don’t have the option. We’ve been working in the building from day one. I work as a kind of specialist. Seven of us are housed in an office that is approximately 100 square feet. Obviously, that’s not social distancing.
Some of us in the office have children at home. Some of us have aging parents living with us or near us. I have my own personal health problems I have to deal with. I made the difficult decision of virtually moving out of the office. I sit by myself in the hallway. It’s not an optimal way to work, but it is the safest way to work for the timebeing.
Belonging to teacher groups online is enlightening. Some people have requested the ability to work virtually and been denied. Some of these people have reported health problems more severe than mine. Nearly everyone is scared about the possibility of having ten or more children in their classroom all day long.
There’s been palpable anger at school district for their policies. They are getting it from all sides. Parents are unhappy. Teachers are unhappy. Rarely are they ever unhappy at the same thing. Parents want their kids back in school. Teachers are reluctant and want more protections. Most districts have given their teachers a mask, a face shield, and some disinfectant spray. It’s not enough, but I also get the dilemma they are in.
Meanwhile, there are reports of flare ups throughout the state. Imagine this is happeneing even when many districts haven’t even returned for face to face instruction. The impossible question is how many positives are acceptable before schools shut down again. It’s a crass decision that is obviously offensive to everyone no matter how you answer it.
This post isn’t about answers. It’s not even about asking questions. This post is about outlining for non-teachers what their teacher friends are going through. We are worried about the health of our families. We are worried about the health of our students and coworkers. We are worried about how we can support students academically and emotionally during this difficult time. Then, we have to juggle teaching the students in person while making sure the students at home get the support they need.
That means overhauling the curriculum. It means using new forms of technology that we might have never used before. It means finding new and creative ways to stay connected to students and parents. It probably means longer hours to make sure everyone gets the support they need. The vast majority do this without complaint.
I say all this knowing that everyone has sacrifices they have to make at their job. Everyone has to either figure out how to be as productive remotely or have to figure out how to be safer at work than they were before. Everyone is worried about themselves and their families. This is just some food for thought when you are thinking about griping about your kid’s school this year.