“So their plan is to send half of the students to school on Mondays and Tuesdays, do a deep clean of all the classrooms on Wednesday, and then send the other half of students on Thursdays and Fridays,” my grandpa explained to my sister and me.
“Is the school going to bring people in to clean, or do the teachers have to clean their own classroom?” This question came from my older sister, a college senior studying early childhood education and an aspiring preschool teacher.
“No, they’re bringing in people to clean. Why?”
“Oh, good. I was just hoping the school wasn’t going to give teachers another thing to do. That would be ridiculous.”
Teachers aren’t getting enough of our support
Admittedly, I never would have thought to ask the question my sister had asked; my mind just didn’t go to that place. Which made me realize all the other places my mind just doesn’t go to. All the other things that teachers are now going through that don’t get acknowledged, that don’t get attention, that don’t get sympathy.
So teachers, this is my ode to you; not because I think that this will solve all (or any) of the problems you are undoubtedly facing going into this upcoming school year, but because sometimes, it’s just nice to be acknowledged.
And to anyone who may be reading this who is not a teacher, I hope, since we can’t all have an older sister who is studying to be a teacher, that this can be your push to tell a teacher that you’re thinking of them, or that you appreciate them, or just that you see that their job is hard right now.
Let’s just acknowledge how hard teachers’ work
So firstly, teachers, I want to acknowledge how hard your job is even when there isn’t a world-wide pandemic. Everyone’s job has gotten harder in one way or another due to the current state our world is in, but yours–it was already hard. It was already exhausting. It was already discouraging at times. You didn’t need any more hurdles to face, but they were put in your path anyway.
So, what else can I say, except props to you for facing all of the “normal” challenges on top of the new ones.
And while all of you have been through some amount of schooling to have this job, and many of you have been doing this for years and years and thought you finally had it figured out, now, you’re trying to figure it out all over again. No amount of school or experience could have prepared you for what your job will look like this year.
No one can tell you that “this is what they did” when they were in your shoes, and all I can say about that is that it must be really, really hard, and I’m sorry.
And last but not least, although you’ve faced countless hard days before, and felt discouraged before, if you’re anything like my sister, those bad days were still surrounded by the passion you have for being a teacher. Even though you don’t love every minute, you do love being a teacher.
I have overlooked how hard this is for you
But this year, you may feel that the passion is being taken out of it all. Talking to your students through Zoom isn’t what you’re passionate about. Having to stay 6 feet away from all of your students isn’t what you’re passionate about. Yelling at students to put a mask on isn’t what you’re passionate about. Passion is what makes the hard days, weeks, and semesters worth it, so I hope that you can find new ways to be passionate this year- not lesser ways, just new ones.
And again, as I’ve already disclaimed, I am not here to offer any solutions because I don’t have them, but rather to tell you that I see you. That I feel bad for you. That I know without a doubt that this is going to be hard for you in many more ways than merely the ones I’ve mentioned.
And like many other people, I had overlooked you, and would have continued doing so if not for the perspective my sister offered me. So if nothing else, I hope that this makes you feel a little more seen, a little more appreciated, a little more valued.
No matter whether you are a new or veteran teacher, this year is going to be a different and difficult experience for you. But from me, a student, I want to say thank you for being willing to continue to do your job in this way. And I think I can speak for my sister and myself in saying that I really hope that on top of it all, you don’t have to clean your own classroom, too.
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