When you decide to become a teacher you do not choose this path for the money and the fame. Most people, like myself, become a teacher because another teacher inspired us at some point in our life. As the pandemic makes its one year mark, it really makes me question my decision to become a teacher.
This has been the hardest year in my career. At the start of the pandemic, teachers were praised and finally getting the positive attention they deserved all along. A year later, teachers are once again unappreciated and unvalued. We’re back to receiving the same comments prior to Covid, “How hard could it really be?” “You get summers off!” or “I could teach from my couch too!” HAH, little do people realize how hard we work and how little we are respected. Honestly, this is the case with many people across various workplaces and careers. Maybe that is why it is predicted that The Great Resignation is going to hit us soon!
When New York City public schools finally closed they forced teachers and building staff to risk their lives by going into the school building to plan for remote learning. To plan for something no one was prepared for and even with little to no guidance it was the teachers that stepped up. Teachers scrambled to create an online curriculum and learn to use an entirely new platform to teach. Moreover, many of us spent countless hours working and some even until late night spending time away from their families to record and plan lessons for their students. We helped distribute technology to families and continuously try to contact families to ensure they received a device. Many of my colleagues and friends contracted the virus that week. And guess what? They still taught from their couches the following week!
As the new school year approached, students and teachers were excited to finally come to the building for some sense of normalcy. Parents were appreciative and ready to start real school. But as the year progressed, it seemed students and some parents had already given up. Administration continued to enforce core values such as empathy and understanding towards vulnerable families, but what about teachers’ lives? We plan and work tirelessly to engage our students with live online instruction, and do our best each day to motivate the reluctant students. In return, we also expect some level of support from our families. Though the greatest challenge is when parents blame teachers when things don’t work in their favor, or simply because teachers often become the scapegoat. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but that can only work when parents are willing to support and collaborate with their child’s teacher instead of working against them.
The hardest part of teaching are the unsupportive and blame shifting parents. There is the helicopter parent who now does the work for the child and sits next to them during live instruction, the parent who ignores your calls or emails and therefore so does their child, and finally the parent who blames you for everything in front of their child. They enable their children so now the students will not respect you either. On the bright side of teaching, there are a few rare gems, who support and respect us, so I thank you from the bottom of my heart because you give some hope to continue in this path of teaching.
It hasn’t been an easy road, and I just want to remind parents that we understand you’re frustrated, tired, and ready for all of this to be over, but so are we! Before you send that email or unnecessarily complain to the administration, just try to step into our shoes for a brief moment. Some teachers have their own families just like you and are trying to juggle it all at once. Some teachers cannot see their families because they go into the building everyday and can’t expose family members. Some teachers have lost loved ones and put everything aside to walk into a half empty classroom just to teach the majority of the students virtually everyday. All of us are trying our very best to make a difference in your child’s life. So work with us instead of against us and let’s help one another turn this experience into a positive one.
We understand this has been a difficult year for everyone, but just remember without teachers where would you be today?
Ways to support your teacher:
- Make sure your child logs onto remote learning on time or arrive to school on time.
- Help your child keep track of their assignments and due dates. If they use google classroom check their “To Do List” It will list current and missing assignments.
- Remind your child to press the submit button and submit all their classwork each day.
- Keep open communication with your child’s teacher & follow up with your child’s teacher.
- Most importantly, remind your child to be respectful and listen to teacher directions.
Mallory B is a NYC elementary school teacher who has been working for 10 years in public schools. She has experience with diverse groups of students ranging from students with autism, adhd, learning disabilities to gifted and talented students. Her students come from various socioeconomic backgrounds.