A free-write reflection on an abnormal school year masquerading as normal.
The metallic screech is the first thing I hear at 7:45 AM.
It’s a dreaded sound; a whistling — then a crunch followed by silence.
The copier has jammed.
“I shouldn’t have to worry about this,” I think to myself. “Except there’s just no damn time.”
Clearing a jam proves to take longer than the actual copy. I clear it, and leave the copier humming merrily.
The hum is merely a siren song for the next unfortunate soul.
It’s not just the jams. It’s having only one, 45 minute, prep period. It’s the constant meetings to review and analyze data. It’s arbitrary tasks set by administrators who haven’t taught in years, and have never taught during (or after) a pandemic.
It’s grading 160 projects.
And, you see, you can’t not grade them, because the kids worked hard on them. They want the validation from you, they want to see that you looked at the project they spent three days on. They put that GIF in for you. They put that reference in for you.
It doesn’t matter if the joke is dumb, or the GIF doesn’t make sense. They still did it for you because they love you. And they want you to be proud of them.
And you can’t NOT assign the project, because it’s literally your job to ensure kids learn.
Except. How do we keep on giving, especially in a year where the school keeps on taking?
When I’m given 8 hours to complete a task that – and I measured it – MUST take me 8.5 hours.
When the copiers are all broken. When the internet doesn’t work. When I’m required to do 100 small administrative tasks that add up and suck the time out of my day — not to mention teach.
And therin lies the problem.
Schools want to pretend that the pandemic is over without acknowledging the trauma the pandemic created.
700,000 dead and climbing. 700,000 dead and climbing. 700,000 dead and climbing.
Students are suffering. Teachers are suffering. Admin is also suffering.
But only one of those categories has the power to enact change.
Because, you see, it’s structural. The structure of teaching must change and administrations must be brave enough to create it. Holding on to what used to be does not help us in the now. In fact, it’s blindly turning away from the lessons of history.
History that we all lived through, and are still living through.
If administration isn’t brave, then teachers must be brave enough to fight for change. The time is now. Your voice is powerful, especially when joined by others.
We’ve changed. So must schools.