Are you a fan of Golden Girls? I don’t think you need to have watched every episode for the past 30 years to know that when Sophia Petrillo recounted a story from her past, she’d lead with, “Picture it: Sicily, 1922…” or some other year. So, in the spirit of Sophia…Picture it: The whole world, 2020.
You don’t need anything more than that. The whole wide world knows what happened in 2020. COVID-19 was not national, or international, it was worldwide. It chewed our world up and spit it out…then stepped on it. Everyone that comes out of this, will come out of it with a COVID-19 story. Here’s mine…
Disclaimer: As an educator, I can speak for the heart of most of us. There are, however, always exceptions to the rule.
Now this: In this battle of teaching during the pandemic, the score reads like this…COVID-19=8 (one point for each month schools were closed) Me=0. What has made me lose these battles, you ask? Here are a couple of reasons:
1. Picture it: Unpreparedness. At first, I blamed the government. But, after starting the new school year having to complete at least 20 hours of summer training, none of which prepared us teachers for the year, I blame the district and county. For example, we were trained on one online platform to complete live lessons, yet a week before school, we were told we were going to use another platform instead. And as many of you saw across the states, the first weeks of school were met with system crashes and internet outages.
2. Picture it: Parents/Guardians. I’ll elaborate this point with another list. This list, while I hope is taken in light-hearted fun, I also hope it makes you cringe enough to help some of us parents check ourselves as we move forward in our child(ren)’s education.
My next list will be a list of some of the conversations teachers have had with parents and guardians. While, yes, I am a teacher, I am a parent first, so there are a few things on this list that I am guilty of saying in my role as a parent.
1. “Can you send me his/her current grade and missing assignments?” Think about this, most of us have over 25 students, and our own children at home. If you have access to your child’s gradebook, log on and get this information yourself. It is not easily at our disposal. While you can access it from an app on your phone, teachers must log into a system from a computer. Imagine us having to do that for 25+ kids every time a parent asks.
2. It’s hard to think of a response to messages like, “Yesterday, he/she didn’t have a D.” How should a teacher reply to that? We live in an ever-changing world, things (grades included) change by the minute. It’s one of those things that can’t be avoided. Sometimes grades go up, sometimes they go down. Ask your teacher what your child is specifically struggling with. For most teachers the more important question is, “Do they really understand?” Let’s first help them understand, and then the desired grades will follow.
3. “This is the only class she/he is failing,” while most parents are stating this as a fact, more are stating it as an accusation to cause offense. Teachers mull over every single grade, before it even reaches your eyes. I have yet to find a teacher, who is thrilled to have a failing grade in their gradebook, or who takes pleasure in a permanent failing mark. So, if this is the only class your child is failing, then they’re failing in one class and we need to refer to number 2 on this list to correct it.
4. “I will call the office (i.e. principal, vice principal, superintendent).” Transparent moment: Sometimes, I do fantasize about responding back with, “Don’t threaten me with a good time.” But, I don’t. It’s just a moment in a fantasy.
All principals, vice principals and superintendents, had to first do their time in the classroom as teachers before becoming a principal or superintendent. At some point in their career, they had a parent tell them that same thing. So, they’re ready for your call. I agree, sometimes such action is warranted. But, if you must go above the teacher’s head to their superior, does it need to be announced?
5. “I feel like I’m doing the teacher’s job.” This statement IS offensive because quite frankly, you’re not. See number 1 from the first list. In addition to the lack of training, you have only your personal children to look after. Teachers have your personal children, and 24 other parents’ personal children…at the same time.
6. “I want my child to have a black/white teacher.” Sigh. I don’t think it’s necessary to elaborate any further on this one.
7. Since we’re in the virtual learning phase, it’s distracting to send a message to your child’s teacher in the middle of class that states anything like, “He’s raising his hand you won’t call on him.” Or “She has a question.”
8. “The link didn’t work. The passcode is wrong.” Before sending such messages, double check to see if you’ve entered the link or passcode incorrectly. While this seems like such a small thing, it’s really displaying the opposite of what we are trying to model for children, perseverance in trouble shooting.
9. “I hate this school.” “This is the worst school.” What message will verbalizing such things send to a child?
10. I saved the worst for last. When, “I wish we could give teachers grades,” is coupled with a complaint of a child’s grade, I think it is meant to offend. But, the truth is, there isn’t a mark high enough. And a teacher’s current salary is never enough.
Picture it: Today. You were able to read this. Now, go and thank a teacher.