I know it was a roller-coaster kind of a year for everyone, but teachers might have had the worst ride of all.
A year ago, teachers were overworked and underpaid, but at least we showed them our gratitude by sending in snacks for conference nights and giving gifts on holidays and Teacher Appreciation Day.
Then the world shut down, including our schools, and when faced with teaching our own kids on a daily basis, we suddenly realized how much we need our teachers.
From March to June, teachers were heroes in the community. We put up signs in our yard thanking our staff for trying to figure out virtual learning on the fly. Schools held neighborhood parades to see their kids that they missed so much, and we cheered and waved. I read article after article about how grateful we all suddenly were for our teachers.
And now? Teachers are the villains.
They are, according to some, lazy, whiny, cowardly adults who can’t figure out how to get these darn kids back in school face to face. After months of virtual learning and seeing our children struggle, many parents and other adults who don’t have kids but obviously know everything have decided that everything bad happening is the fault of our teachers.
Increased suicide rate? Teachers.
Depression and anxiety in kids? Teachers’ fault.
Lack of socialization? Teachers.
The teacher hate is out of control.
Nevermind that we are still in the midst of a pandemic. Nevermind that EVERYONE is struggling. Oh, and by the way, teachers RARELY get to make the decisions about whether schools are in-person or not. Plus teachers are asked (or in Iowa’s case, required) to return to school without any assurance of proper measures set in place to protect them from this disease.
One angry father even “said the quiet part out loud” when he told his local school board that his child’s education is more important than the lives of teachers and that having kids back in school is “more important than if a teacher were to contract COVID and pass away”.
This is especially heinous knowing that 24 school staff members in Iowa have died from COVID-19 this year.
People, it’s time to stop treating teachers as expendable.
They have been working harder than ever. The job constantly changes when guidelines are adjusted. They have gone from virtual to hybrid to in-person, and sometimes back and forth several times. Many teach online and in-person students at the same time. You may not realize they received little to no training for this. They don’t get paid extra for doing double the work. And they certainly aren’t “lazing around, watching TV all day instead of working”, as one Facebook commenter alleged.
This pandemic has exposed the major shortcomings of our education system.
It shouldn’t be the job of our schools to provide childcare, meals, supplies, mental health counseling, and education on top of it all. Yet, somehow, that’s where we are. And when physical buildings are closed, much of that went away or was greatly curtailed. Parents and families were definitely in crisis, and I mourn that not everyone could keep their children safe and healthy, mentally or physically.
But teachers? They never stopped working, caring for, and helping your children.
Not happy with the way your school handled things? You want things to change? By all means, advocate for your child and what he/she needs. But let’s not make it our kids’ lives vs. teachers’ lives. That’s not productive or, really, acceptable.
Please stop the teacher hate.
They are still overworked and underpaid, they’ve risked their lives throughout this pandemic, and they do it all while being vilified in the media. Exceptional teachers are leaving the profession in droves after this mess of a year, and there aren’t exactly classrooms full of teachers in the wings waiting to replace them. We face the threat of a serious teacher shortage, and part of it is our fault.
So as we return from spring break, stop and send a thank you to your child’s teacher(s).
Next time you’re frustrated with virtual learning or the fact that your kid has to wear a mask all day, stop and think instead about the many positive things your teacher and your school have done this year, and save the hate for your journal instead of your Facebook page.
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