A teacher friend of mine said, “I feel like a bill collector” recently and I felt it.
We can extend all the grace we like in our virtual classrooms, but the disconnect between our deepest selves and what we do daily is broken for many of us. It isn’t about how kindly we treat each other as much as the hole left from the lesson not given, the improvement not made, the missing connection over joyful work in our classrooms. Many teachers are mourning for more than what is not, but also who they are not able to be right now.
Why are Teachers Feeling Like This?
It’s okay if you don’t know, because we know we are limiting outside visitors to the schools that are still open, but sigh, teachers are picking up the slack. Teachers right now are cleaning, contact tracing, teaching in multiple modalities – sometimes all at once – while worrying about all their children in-person and online. It is a wonder teachers have made it this far.
What can we do for Teachers?
Do you really mean it? Because I will start with the hardest part … maybe don’t freak out about grades in 2020. Because there are two true things that no one can change: teachers are too full and maybe grades are not the highest priority right now. Teachers literally do not have any more mental capacity. Teachers are being asked to remember the last two weeks if Student A was near Student B for more than 15-minute cumulative. Teachers need to clean all surfaces between classes. Teachers are orchestrating lunchroom and recess and car rider procedures on a tight rope in the rain. So they are going to need parents to chill out about the difference between that A and that B. And for those occasions where you see the teacher controlling the fool out of grades in his or her classroom please remember that could be the only thing that teacher is able to control.
Teachers are the New Debt Collectors
Virtual teachers have virtual classrooms with large numbers of non-participatory students. It is killing us too. Teachers thrive on interaction with students and denied interaction has teachers sad. The only thing worse is to call home to talk to parents, guardians, the student and be avoided.
Are Teachers the New Debt Collectors?
It can feel like that to a teacher.
And if you’ve read this far you’re probably a teacher – so here is what teachers need to know:
People may be scared.
People may be out of work.
People may be hungry.
Forget about that assignment and ask if the family is doing okay. Ask what do they need. Ask how you can help right now. And then do it.
The best remedy for the job of Debt Collector, that you never wanted anyway, is to call with the offer of help and hope. Teachers will find the feeling that comes with that conversation more hopeful and more in line with being a teacher.