I have many friends in teaching, both online and IRL, and it just broke my heart to read this from Sydney Chaffee on social media.
I just counseled a talented young teacher to quit their job
rather than continue working at a school where (a) they have already gone back in person w/o any social distancing and (b) admin says masks for kids & staff are optional.
Breaks my heart that this brand new T asked me if i thought it was “okay” to leave. Implicit in the question: “If I leave, does it mean I don’t care about the kids?” But it doesn’t just break my heart; it makes me angry.
In March, we were heroes. “Pay teachers a million dollars,” they said. Now? We’re being told to get back in the classroom and make it work ASAP by people who haven’t spent a day of their lives in front of a class.
Policymakers who won’t meet one another in person want teachers to risk not just our own health, but that of our students and their communities, in the name of “getting back to normal.”
What I’m hearing is that “normal” means undervaluing teachers, trivializing our expertise, and accusing us of selfishness, all while spending zero time actually consulting with us about what we think reopening should look like.
New teachers: being a good teacher doesn’t mean sacrificing your whole entire self to this work. Don’t buy into martyrdom. When you are strong and healthy- physically, mentally, and emotionally- then you can do your best work for kids.
And it bears repeating that foolish reopening plans built on the premise that we’ve all been giving up and doing nothing for the past several months (hi, Betsy DeVos) won’t just put school staff at risk. It will endanger our kids and their communities, especially in districts serving high percentages of kids of color that have been among the hardest hit by the effects of this pandemic.
In short: new teachers, believe this: you aren’t expendable. Policymakers: listen to teachers. Listen to teachers. Listen to teachers.