Teachers went from being celebrated in March 2020 as the unsung heroes of essential workers to being the most hated and unsupported by October 2020.
During the onset of the pandemic, more citizens, businesses, and families began focusing on self-care. It became more than a fad for working class Americans and people of all ages.
But if self-care equals self love, then what are we saying to teachers about their value during the pandemic?
If you live in a city where the school board and leaders are requiring in person learning without the proper resources, not allowing teachers to use medical leave for Covid-19 exposure or illness, or having overcrowded classes, this communicates the following three areas covered below to teachers in your local school district.
You’re Not Valued
Nothing says that you’re not valued louder to a teacher than seeing your superintendent and school board members lower standards for keeping you and your students protected as best as possible for in person learning.
Imagine being the teacher who doesn’t have an air purifier/ventilation system in your classroom but having students with severe health conditions.
Put yourself in the shoes of a teacher who doesn’t have enough masks for students in their classroom.
Think about the tasks teachers take on when other staff members i.e. the nurse and custodial staff are out due to illness and them having to serve in those roles on top of teaching.
If you’re a teacher working in a public school system that isn’t actively working to address these situation, you probably feel like you’re not valued.
You’re Creativity Isn’t Enough
If you’re a teacher and go to social media at all, you consistently see advocates, parents, and citizens complaining about schools being closed due to Covid-19.
Immediately the messages begin flying around about how ineffective virtual learning is.
This overshadows the teachers who are teaching in schools that are virtual who are creating amazing lessons.
I created my virtual classroom at the onset of the pandemic. The next year my theme was comics and the art of storytelling. This year, my theme is community building and workforce development to align with our school;s principles.
Across the nation, teachers are doing amazing tasks which are often overlooked and undervalued because our society would much rather complain about schools closing than uplifting how the innovation of teachers is actually helping push us to reimagine education.
Teacher’s Voices Aren’t Important
Year after year, I see teachers complete the district survey, have one on one meetings with school administration to provide feedback, and support educational advocates with uplifting messages of how we can improve schools.
But each year, teachers see school leaders implement guidance that only advance the issues that are creating barriers for all students to succeed.
Decisions that go against the advancement of teaching and learning for each student to be successful reflects that teacher’s voices aren’t important. What the public eye doesn’t see is the work of teachers in planning and team and leadership meetings advocating for the resources needed to improve the inner workings of schools.
For teachers to be blamed for the failure of public education after sacrificing so much to help us reimagine how we do schools says to them that their voices, gifts, and value during the pandemic doesn’t matter.
This is why so many teachers are walking away saying enough is enough.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.