I’ve had ENOUGH

I’m hoping to explain to anyone who might NOT be a teacher, what is going on over here behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz.  Teachers know.  Some parents understand.  But there is a great deal of opinion and slander being bandied about that IS NOT BASED ON FACT.  However, I’m not going to be addressing that today.  I just want to share a slice of my own personal hell so you get a general idea of what is going on over here.

Let’s be honest.  I’m AFRAID to even talk about this.  There could be repercussions so I may try to pull some of my punches and be vague on details.

Let’s also add that this is probably not the same exact precise level of insanity that all teachers are facing in the US.  Different districts have different rules.  And even within my same district, I’m sure that there are teachers who are NOT doing all the things I’m doing.  I am Hermione Granger about to lose my mind with my time turner and probably doing to much.  Until now.  I’ve pulled back in a lot of ways and learned to delegate in others.  Because that’s how I’m surviving.

BUT even with that being said, teaching is … awful.  Terrible.  Become my greatest nightmare.  There are no words to describe this descent into Dante’s Inferno.

Someone recently asked me WHY this would be the case when teachers have had all summer to prepare.  NO. we. haven’t.  WE are not in control of anything in regard to teaching any more.

Let’s be clear on this.  The power of the classroom does NOT belong to teachers.  We don’t get to teach what we want, how we want, when we want.  We are told what our schedule is, what we will be teaching, and how.  We are given scripts to read and we are taught routines to teach (including dog clickers) that make me so mad that they would be used on any child.  We are expected to be robots.  This has only gotten worse over the last few years.

But this year takes the cake.  Teachers are LOSING their minds.  We are not being given direction, but we are being told we have to do “things.”  And those things are vague and wishy-washy and undefined. Like attendance.

If your child is in a Zoom OR logs in to one system or another to do work during the day, your child is counted as present.  This is a policy we have to follow.  This is NOT my choice.  I understand we have crazy lives that cannot be 9am-5pm right now, but that is not okay for “school.”  We have to take attendance.  If you don’t do something during the day, your kid is marked absent.  Yes, I know you have jobs.  Yes, I know a lot of families have more than one kid and are struggling between grade level expectations.  Again, this is not MY choice.  I have to do this.

How about grades?  We are told we must grade weekly.  Double the amount we did last year.  AND we classroom teachers are now responsible for grading things we’ve never taught or graded before (like PE or Music, etc.).  Yet we aren’t told how to do that.  Inconsistencies are the hobgoblins eating us alive daily right now.  GRADING!  FIRST GRADERS! DURING A PANDEMIC!

And don’t get me started about the “easy” tech stuff they’re asking us to do.  I’m rather tech savvy. Most people who know me will tell you that.  BUT I’m struggling to keep up with all the demands being thrust upon us teachers.  It’s NOT just Zoom.  It’s recording lessons (downloading a video, uploading a video, and posting a link for those unable to attend), providing worksheets (both electronically AND paper packets for people to pick up), converting things to be useable, recording “EXTRA” lessons that need to be taught too, dealing with tech difficulties (because now we’re expected to also be IT for every parent for machines we’re not familiar with and can’t see), etc.  Add on mandatory trainings “in our own time” and I’ve been working nights and weekends to get it all done.

My creativity has almost come to a screeching halt because I have NO time to do anything but convert crap.  Excuse me.  I’m trying really hard to keep my language clean right now.  I’m OVERWHELMED by the amount of stuff that is expected of us.

Now, let me add in, we’ve never taught in this platform before.  Online teaching sucks.  We don’t get to interact with the kids in a way that we used to (and let’s be honest, the kids are the BEST part of teaching).  And we can’t control what’s going on at home.  AND we keep getting training teaching us about how to be a perfect teacher online.  Someone whipped together a program over the summer about the perfect online teacher who has time to integrate EVERYTHING into teaching that a master teacher does.  You know what?  WE ARE ALL BEGINNING LEVEL TEACHERS AGAIN!  Do NOT expect perfection!  That pressure is TOO great to bear!  We are TRYING and surviving, but we cannot do all the things at once.  Cannot.

What has me at my wits end today?  Why haven’t I written about this before?  Because today, the district has decided that we will be going back in person on October 19th.

Okay.  We knew this was coming.  No big deal, right?  WRONG.

1) We will be expected to keep up the online stuff AND teach in person.

2) We will “only” be teaching 5.5 hours a day, 5 days a week (9:30am-3pm), but there will be NO breaks for teachers.  Planning can be done around that.  So can taking a pee break.  So can taking a lunch break.

3) We will not be getting any time off school to do parent teacher conferences.  Which are that same week we return in person per the original school calendar.  Instead, we can use our “planning” time over a few weeks to get them all done in Zoom.

I now have 24 students.  That’s 24 Zooms.  On my “own” time.  When I won’t have time to prepare for teaching IN class, let alone the tech stuff I’m supposed to maintain.

This is now impossible.

We are not allowed to be HUMAN!

I’m overwhelmed.  I’m anxious.  I was crying almost daily for the first few weeks.  That stopped (until today when it started back up).  Instead it was replaced by an overwhelming sense of anger.

What do I get for working myself to death?  Parents yelling at me that I don’t understand how complicated their lives are.  Powers that be treating me like I’m lazy (“you’re only teaching two classes so you can do anything else we ask you to do at the drop of a hat, right?”).  Local newspaper opinion pieces that are saying teachers are really first responders and they should have stepped up to be in person from the get go.

I’m so angry at all of this.  Teachers are FED UP!  All of us.  We’re not telling you all of the things going on behind the curtain, but trust us.  America, you’re heading for disaster.  Your schools will have no one left to man them at this rate.  This is ridiculous!

And you know what all the powers that be keep saying? “Be professional.  You will be the professionals who pull us through this.”  Just suck it up.  Be quiet.  Just do what we say.

I feel trapped and helpless.  I used to love this job.  I need to pay a mortgage.  What can I do?  What can any of us teachers do?  This is MORE than fear of COVID (which is also present).  This is insanity.

About jenabenton

I'm an elementary school teacher, writer, illustrator and storyteller.

10 Responses

  1. chris floyd

    “We will be expected to keep up the online stuff AND teach in person”… Wut? Are the students being given a choice of attending in person or online? Are you supposed to be teaching to both a classroom and a Zoom audience at the same time? It’s enough to make one suspect that all those six-figure-salary school administrators are perhaps not adding much value to this situation. I’m very sorry you are going through this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gretchen McLellan

    Oh, Jenna, I hear you!
    I am a retired teacher and can’t imagine trying to pull off what you are being expected to do right now. Even pre-pandemic, teachers were stressed out over unrealistic and ever-shifting, top-down expectations, curriculum changes, grading criteria and high-stakes testing protocols that we knew were often developmentally inappropriate. What you are experiencing is madness. Grading twenty-four first graders in Music and PE! Virtually? The fact that you are afraid to speak out is tragic, but I am sure that fellow educators understand that fear completely.
    Nevertheless, she persisted!
    I have always thought that the skill set of the elementary classroom teachers is unparalleled. I was a specialist who looked on in awe at what my colleagues were doing with so much scholarship, enthusiasm, creativity, love and commitment to each and every student. My hat goes off to you! Please be kind to yourself. I hope those who you need to cut you some major slack have heard you and will greet you with compassion, understanding and a helping hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sorry, Jena. I’m a former classroom teacher, now a college online instructor. My husband is a retired teacher, and my kids are teachers sharing the same struggles as you are. It’s heartbreaking. I have no solutions to offer for this complicated problem but can only offer my sympathy and best wishes for surviving this terrible situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nell Cross Beckerman

    This is all unspeakably horrid. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure you speak for teachers all over. I truly hope major change happens and this is rock bottom. Who on earth would want to be a teachers with this incredible weight and unfair compensation and health risk? I’m so so sorry you are going through this. Your students are so lucky to have you.

    Liked by 1 person

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