Teaching

2020-2021 School Year: Thoughts on Week 1

2020-2021 School Year: Thoughts on Week 1

I waited to write this because I didn’t want my shock and anger of the first few days to color my view on week 1 of the pandemic school year, but I assure you my anger did not dissipate, it deepened.

I am not going to turn this into a rant but in short I find it disappointing that schools are in this disadvantaged position in the 21st century. Honestly, I felt like this pre-COVID but the pandemic has only exasperated that we are asking the impossible of public education and still blaming them with all of society’s ills. Enough. Take off the extra from our yoke, properly and responsibly fund us and watch the magic we can perform.

Each state and district is doing something different, many seem to be fully or mostly online. Although online teaching sucks (& I have my own issues with the outdated expectations of that) what we decided to do is definitely worse. All teachers are split: about half our students show up face-to-face, meaning my classroom is NOT safe and NOT socially distanced while the other half “chime in” via a webcam. It’s literally the worst of both systems. I can’t focus on either group because my attention is always split, and they are expected to be treated equally, which means I can’t create a cool in class activity nor can I utilize the amazing online tools available. We are on long long block days that are boring and impersonal and solitary yet I am at immense risk every day. So what was the point?

Read more: What Education can Learn from “Emergency Teaching”

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”

I…don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”

To shrug.”

I see about 100 people personally everyday, and when I mean personally I mean we are closer than 6 feet for sure. PLUS I am trying to manage the myriad of tech issues my kids at home are dealing with. And not only that, but my lessons are lifeless. I can’t do any of my dynamic activities or full body teaching I am used to because it is dangerous to my health. I feel so disconnected from them and sadly terrified that every kid I walk over to to help might make me sick.

I refuse to be a martyr. We need to go home, at least for secondary grades. BUT we should NOT be asking nor expecting our kids to be on the computer for 7 hours a day straight. Throw away the 19th and 20th century industrial school rule book and usher in one for the 21st century. A guidebook that is open to individualization, open to demonstrate learning by mastery, not time in a seat, a guidebook that allows us to use the dynamic online resources available. But to even get there internet must be a guaranteed utility and EVERY damn student needs a device. The digital world is not a luxury, it is a requirement to be a citizen in the 21st century.

Stop asking public schools to make up society’s lack. Lack of funding, lack of empathy, lack of food security, lack of emotional support, lack of structure. Stop expecting us to fix your sins. Step up to the plate America. If you don’t you will lose us and a generation of young people will suffer for it. This isn’t a threat; it is a sad reality that is coming to a climax now.

JMF

P.S. the cover photo is from our districts first day of school video – my first period AP class got in the shot!

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