We need time & faith & funds to reopen schools safely
As a rule, whenever you see something Trump is doing, do the opposite,
That may seem like a no-brainer, but right now, with all the conversation going on about whether schools should, or shouldn’t open, I think it bears remembering. Lately, in many of the “pod” conversations sprouting up on social media, I’m noticing that parents and caregivers, in venting about their anxiety and frustration, are focusing their anger not only on the education system itself but teachers specifically.
Honestly, I understand this frustration as both a parent AND an educator. Nonetheless, it feels a little like the analogy of the boss yelling at her employee, who yells at the spouse who yells at the kid who finally kicks the dog. Based on the tweets I’m seeing, many teachers are starting to feel like they are the dog in this analogy…
With that in mind (and with permission) I’m sharing a post I recently read by a fellow SFUSD educator Amy Clark (Amy, thank you so much for your service to our students and families! ??)
Time, Faith, and Funds
A request from an SFUSD elementary teacher
by Amy Clark,
“I have been teaching in public schools for 21 years. It’s a hard job on a good day, but the work is unique and interesting and inspiring. I’m proud of my profession and care about my students and families.
Teaching is a highly specialized profession, and it’s complicated. It’s not just a matter of materials or delivering content. It’s about relationships, emotions, brain development, empowerment, confidence, learning differences, learning how to voice your ideas and experiences…so many things.
Every teacher I know worked really hard, above and beyond our paid hours, to provide as much meaningful connection as well as content as we could, given the constraints of covid & the reality we are living in. We learned new platforms, practiced them, collaborated, re-wrote units, reached out again and again to families, delivered supplies and meals, and literally recreated how to do our jobs, which we love, as best we could. We had our own families, financial struggles, fears, health problems, loss of sleep.
What I heard back overwhelmingly from families and kids was that our work was valued, that we helped our kiddos stay sane, feel connected, and intellectually challenged. Students and families knew they were seen and cared for by their teachers and school community.
We’ve learned a lot about how to do distance learning, and how to make it as equitable as possible, as scaffolded as possible, and give our scholars opportunities to build their collaboration skills in new ways. We have a lot to share with our colleagues and will need time to learn from our experiences & do our best work (since the job description is completely altered). We have a lot of feedback to reflect on and data to assess, and big choices to make about how to do better.
We know it’s not great. The work is fundamentally about connecting and the way we reach students has to adapt. We will need more time with families, more time with individual kiddos and small groups, and additional staff support to make breakout rooms productive. We all have a lot to learn.
I don’t know how I am going to make magic online for kids I haven’t met. I don’t know how I’m going to run collaborative groups and help build my kids’ skills. But I’m up to the task and have confidence in my amazing peers to support me and all my students.
We need time & faith & funds to do this safely, so little by little we can get back face to face with our students and families. I want to be there for you. Schools cannot solve all the problems COVID has revealed—lack of a safety net, fair wages, health care, justice, and freedom from racism and violence. There is no back to normal unless we all take up the work in front of us. It will take time.
Will you be there for me? Understand that we will have to prioritize & that those who need more may get more of our attention for now? That’s part of “we are all in this together.” Please check your privilege and take a breath. Let’s truly be a community for all our kids. I will need your help to make distance learning, for as long as we need it, truly count. I promise to do my best.”
Parents, please be mindful. These pod conversations, when not moderated are really breaking down trust for dedicated educators. Folks who are both educators and parents are in BOTH spaces and see a division forming. It is not healthy for our communities or for our kids.
These issues are larger than us. Our public education system isn’t perfect. Frankly neither is our private/charter education system. And newsflash, neither are we as parents.
What can we do to take care of ourselves and build each other up? Parents and teachers need each other now more than ever. Please share this message in the parent spaces you are in.