Dear Pandemic Teachers,
President Abraham Lincoln was a man who knew adversity well. Knew both defeat and victory, pain and joy. When reflecting on his 1858 election night lost to Stephen A. Douglas he said:
“The path had been worn hog-back and was slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other one out of the way, but I recovered myself and lit square, and I said to myself, “It’s a slip and not a fall.”
Two years later he would defeat Douglas, winning the presidency, and become our 16th president. Like Lincoln, our nation’s teachers, have always known adversity, held on, may slip, but never do they fall.
While administrators, policymakers, and Governors living on Zoom demand teachers return to full face-to-face school. Often Blaming, shaming, and even bullying classroom teachers for asking for a safe return to school for their students. I refuse to play their "blame teachers” game in the middle of the deadliest pandemic in over 100-years. This is not teaching and learning in normal times, this teaching in a crisis.
Let me tell the world who our teachers really are?
They are the ones endlessly writing lessons,
Preparing to teach in person, virtually, and for many a combination of both,
Working not only their paid contact hours,
But on average working without pay for an extra 15-20 hours a week,
Making sure their google classrooms work,
Sharing their screens,
Making sure their mute button is on,
Taking attendance of students in their physical room, and online ones,
Doing all they can to make learning as normal as possible for their students,
Uploading endless demands for more compliance data,
Adjusting to endless changes in administrative demands,
Writing weekly progress reports,
Preparing parent conferences,
Helping children to follow CDC protocols,
Doing bus duty,
Attending far too many School meetings and professional development sessions, that sometimes blame teachers,
Constantly demanding more from fatigued and stressed teachers,
Always demanding more.
Who are these pandemic teachers?
They are the ones saving public education,
They are the ones giving everything they have to make this pandemic schooling crisis feel normal.
They are the glue holding our schools together.
They are my heroes.
I refuse to call them anything less.
Please, remember to practice self-care,
Understand too much is being asked of you,
Know that the reason you collapse at the end of every school day,
You are being abused, by a system that refuses to listen to teachers,
You are exhausted from giving your total self to the children, parents, and schools you teach in,
This abuse must end.
Who are these Pandemic teachers?
Our tireless heroes teaching in a pandemic crisis,
Our abused and discarded heroes.
I wish I had more than words,
I want teachers to know something,
One day this COVID Pandemic will end,
Like President Lincoln, you were never falling, merely slipping a bit, never ever falling,
History shall call you our pandemic teaching heroes,
The ones who never fell, but time and time again rose up to the challenge of teaching in a pandemic crisis.
Who are you, teachers?
You are our heroes rising,
Be extra kind to each other,
Be understanding to each other,
Be the shoulders to cry on for each other,
Be good to yourselves,
Be good to your families,
Be good to all, and
Whenever you can find 30 seconds in your school day,
Breathe in deeply, breathe out, and say this is temporary,
If the day gets away from you,
Like the heroes of old, you may slip, but you will not fall.
COVID is not forever,
Someday, it will be normal again to welcome all at your classroom door,
Minus the masks,
Minus the fear,
And one day,
You teaching heroes,
Our tested pandemic veterans,
You shall welcome every child back to normal schooling.
Who are teachers?
They are our Pandemic Hero Teachers.
With the deepest of respect,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director
Uniting to Save Our Schools
If you like to listen to the tune I listen to on my morning walk today? It was Josh Groban and Helen Fischer singing I'll Stand by you" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOre5B_KbJU