An open letter to Don and Joe: talk is cheap but our teachers aren’t

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This column is appearing on October 26, 2020. In eight days (hopefully) the sitting president or challenger will have secured a check in the win column. Either way, they finally need to ensure that our teachers are pulled out of the loss column. Stop bragging what great teachers we have and start treating them as such.

TEACHERS DESPERATELY NEED YOU TO INTERRUPT THEIR LIVES

Do you think, it’s time to really help? I mean really, it seems we spend all of our time concerned with other people’s business, commenting on their lives and posting it all on social media. How about finally butting into teachers’ lives? At least they will know you care.

In a society so hell-bent on analyzing polls, ratings and infographics, it’s easy to see on the global stage where US students rank in all subjects. Just look toward the middle or bottom of the lists. Even though our students are seeing the bottom, our teachers spend all of their hours (both awake and dreaming) pushing non-stop to get them to the top.

SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE THEM A REAL (NOT VIRTUAL) SHOULDER TO CRY ON

For many teachers, they do not want to complain in fear of retribution. And again, for many of them, they love their work and love their students and are grateful for the privilege of being a teacher. However, I have seen how quickly it can shift. As a country, we seem to only operate in one of two dangerous and harmful extremes when it comes to teachers. We swing between the narratives of “teachers are heroes” and “teachers are not doing nearly enough teaching during the pandemic.”

THEY ARE AT THEIR BREAKING POINT

I want to stop here. Before I say anything else – I know that already someone is reading this and thinking, “Those teachers should just be grateful that they have a job, when so many others are not as lucky.” And I get that. I really do.

I have watched it happen over the past few months as teachers have shared, online and in person, their frustrations and desperation and cries of, “This is not sustainable!” Teachers are at their breaking point. They have all been asked to do an impossible thing on top of all the other impossible things that the world of education demands from them.

TEACHERS ALWAYS GET IT DONE

It has not been so much fun for them. But everyday they find a way to make it work. They are exhausted. They are at the very edge of what they can manage. But they make it work. One teacher spoke about getting up at 5 a.m. to get her work done before her own children woke up and before her husband, an essential worker, had to leave for the day.

It is an awful way to live and an awful way to teach, but they are making it work. They have found a way to do it. And that is good enough until they are told by the world that it isn’t enough.

AND IN THE END…

They are doing it not because it is all mandated, not because they have been told they have to do all these things. They are doing it for the same reason they love to teach – it’s because they love our kids. And their tears need to be our tears, for a job well done!

Footnote: if anyone can name our current Secretary of Education I will personally deliver the paper to your home at no cost. That’s more than even Uber and Shipt can do.

This column is by Ritchie Lucas, Founder of The Student Success Project and Think Factory Consulting. He can be reached at 305-788-4105 or email at ritchie@thinkfactory.com and on Facebook and You Tube as The Student Success Project. NOTE: Guest contributor Lori Moldovan – Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern, was again unavailable for this column due to her extremely heavy caseload related to the pandemic.


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