To the Teachers I Love :: I’m Still in Your Corner

To the teachers I know and love, my heart hurts for you right now. 

I see the season of life you’re in — full of anxiety and uncertainty that’s both personal and professional. I know this is the second time you’ve been faced with transforming your teaching practices in less than one calendar year (under intense criticism from parents and administrators). 

I watch as you wrestle with creating the kind of “safe” school environment that’s as healthy and sanitary as possible but know you’re unable to create an emotionally safe school environment where kids can feel secure and socialize. I know the money for plexiglass, disinfectant, and hand sanitizer to help keep your students safe is coming out of your pockets.

I know that on a good day, you have 15 minutes to eat lunch and one hurried bathroom break in between prepping and teaching, and I grieve with you as that time disappears. 

I can envision you planning your lessons, suddenly switching over to an in-person, one-to-one technology model because paper and pencil lessons are just too risky to your health.

I see how hard it is for you, knowing how many students won’t succeed with this model of “hands off” learning but also understanding this is one of the small ways you can still protect yourself. I see you racking your brain for ways to pull your future disengaged students back in without that encouraging high five or in-classroom movement break from GoNoodle. 

I understand your frustration at the, “Well, Asian schools can do it” rhetoric, knowing that educational philosophies and practices in Asia are starkly different than ours here in Massachusetts. It’s frustrating to watch as, over and over, politicians and others who aren’t experts in your field force you to shove a square peg into the round hole.

I stand with you as parents call you “lazy” and imply that since you’ve been able to teach from your couch you simply don’t want to go into work anymore, and I understand that cannot be any further from the truth.

Once again, I saw the point where educators who were regarded as “heroes” in April became demonized for not wanting to sacrifice their safety or the safety of their families in the name of childcare, not education.

I can’t even imagine the terror you feel entering your school buildings, which, even at half capacity, still have ventilation systems from 1958. I feel the wave of familiar dismay as the media and local, state, and federal governments describe schools as “critical infrastructures in our society and workforce,” but they refuse to put their money where their mouths are. 

I watched in dissatisfaction as your school committee and communities voted on a hybrid model of learning that required you to prep twice as much for each class you teach and expected you to have the same lesson online as you did in person, simultaneously, all without your input. 

And then the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education put forth guidelines that encouraged districts to allow the children of teachers to be allowed to go to school full time, and/or spend time in the classroom with their parents so that you can educate their children. I watched the expected social media outrage unfold brutally and with much hostility. I listen as your friends, families, and communities degrade your professional opinions over and over, some blinded with desperation, and not seeing beyond what’s inconvenient and difficult for them. 

Please remember there are still people sitting here in your corner, thankful for what you do and the hard decisions you have to make in order to educate our children. We believe in you, and we love you.

Chelsey is a Massachusetts girl through and through and currently resides on the North Shore on the New Hampshire line. In her former life, before motherhood, she was a teacher in a local high school, but now she's a stay at home mom who mostly cares for her child with special needs. She finds motherhood to be the hardest job she's ever loved and is very passionate about advocating for and educating people about neurodiverse children that may or may not also have physical or intellectual disabilities. In her "spare time" (which happens almost never) she likes to make hair bows, obsess about Disney, quilt, cook things that aren't dinosaur chicken nuggets and pretend she's good at taking artistic pictures.