Grab a cup of coffee and sit down with me because I need to share my feelings and get some things off my chest. Please, hear me out. I’m an administrator for a virtual school and STRUGGLING! (Yes, I was running online classrooms before it was a 2020 trend.) When COVID-19 happened, we didn’t miss a beat because this is what we do. The only adjustment we made was adding support for our teachers who now were working with kids at home.
Yesterday the reality of Fall 2020 hit me HARD as I am preparing for my staff to return to school. I’ve mailed them shirts and planners as a welcome back gift, and I’m hosting a virtual ice cream social with them for our Professional Development week. I’m really happy to see my staff and get the school year started, but I can’t help but feel sorry for MYSELF and my teachers who have their kids at home with them while still being expected to teach and be present for other people’s children. Now, don’t get me wrong; teachers are superheroes, no doubt … but even superheroes need to be checked on.
By late afternoon I found myself sitting in the middle of my living room rug filled with toys and snack papers because I had been in online meetings all day starting at 9:00am while also having my two kids who need me at home. The tears were flowing as my kids exclaimed, “mom please come play with me! Mom, you’re in another meeting!”
By late afternoon, they had eaten all the snacks and junk, as well as watched countless hours of TV because mom is preparing for her students’ virtual school year. Meanwhile, the same mom doesn’t even have a plan for her own sons.
Going physically back into school buildings is a huge risk for EVERYONE.
So, you ask, is virtual education the best option?
As an experienced virtual administrator, I really want you to think about the severe mental/emotional strain this will have on teachers, especially the ones who have littles at home. Trying to teach with little ones hanging on their legs, sitting under their desks, not having access to mom throughout the day because mom is teaching or in online meetings. Teachers telling their kids “yes!” to having ice cream for breakfast to simply avoid them showing up naked on the Zoom call.
Remember, under normal circumstances, virtual teaching is a full-time job and those of us in the profession secure childcare to do it well.
I’m sure there are many factors to consider but I said all of the above to simply ask, “WHAT ABOUT THE TEACHERS?” Many of my own teacher friends have already quit because they are being forced to go back into schools or their district isn’t giving them grace when it comes to virtual education and having their own kids at home. One specifically told me that her principal said, “you need to make sure your kids don’t interrupt your class and your duties!”
What in the F?! (excuse my language BUT.) How can you stop a 2 year old from needing mom? Inconsiderate!
And let’s not even discuss how virtual education isn’t necessarily equitable for kids who are enrolled in a brick and mortar school. Teachers know this and already struggle with how to help those particular students. Again a mental F!
Yesterday was hard. I cried because I hurt for everyone involved. This isn’t fair.
Teachers deserve so much more. Will we become the new FRONT LINE workers?
Friends, I really want your thoughts! Do you think these districts are thinking about the people we glorified in May? Do you think teachers are being brought into the conversation about putting themselves at risk because they were born to educate?
A concerned virtual administrator, mom, and former teacher