Confessions

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#32701

Covid struggle: I was told by my principal that they can’t be giving me disinfecting wipes every time I run out because then their stock is going to run out. Imagine having 15 first grade kids in the classroom without disinfecting their area. At least we need to clean before and after eating breakfast and lunch. That’s at least 4 wipes per student per day and I’m only receiving a packet of 50 wipes per week. I guess students safety doesn’t come first after all.

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#32631

I gave a student a zero on an assignment because it wasn’t her own work. She emailed me an explanation that I found valid so I gave her 1/2 points back. The student emailed me again about the same assignment later that evening. Her mother then emails me the next day (less than 24 hours later) because I “wasn’t working with her child” and said that I needed to better explain my expectations of online work. I emailed the parent back quoting my syllabus, which has been available online since before the semester started, and giving proof that her child did not complete the assignment as required. She conceded that her student was in the wrong, but then proceeded to tell me that I needed to have grace with the kids because of how tough this year has been so far. I’m pretty sure I gave her child grace, and would like to know where HER grace is for ME. It’s not like we’ve been doing this our whole lives – we are in the trenches, too, trying to figure out how to make the best of a bad situation! The worst part? This parent also happens to be a counselor at a school in our district!

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#32589

So the other day at school the A/C unit was out, long story…, and the windows in my classroom do not open enough to allow a good breeze to come (or really any air circulation at all). By the end of the day it was pretty miserable, hot and humid, and we were all sweating buckets. In class my students were working on a project and I had walked over to another student to answer a question. As I was walking back to my desk (we are supposed to maintain as much distance between us and the students as possible) after providing the needed assistance, I scanned the room to see how the rest of the class was doing, and about lost my mind! Two of my male students who were sitting near the window had pulled their pants down to their ankles and were sitting in their desks with just their shirts and underwear (pants at ankles). I have taught for 13 years, and I try to create a pretty relaxed atmosphere in class. My students call me Mr. T and most are in advanced classes, so a more relaxed atmosphere works, but not that relaxed!!!! I still can’t believe what I saw (and unfortunately can’t un-see :-))!!!!.

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#32579

I had to turn my camera off to hide my laughter at the look of horror upon one of my high school students faces when he realized he just picked his nose and ate the booger with his camera on.

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#32317

To anyone willing and able to listen,
It is hard to know how to even begin writing something like this. No words exist to genuinely and accurately portray the devastation we have all experienced and been witness to since the start of this new decade. Natural disasters have and continue to ravage countries, communities, and countless lives. Systemic racism is being fought against and simultaneously denied by those who constantly perpetuate it. A global pandemic has upended every aspect of our lives, and corruption in various political fixtures around the world seems to be thriving. We are all quite literally watching everything wrong with our society be simultaneously flushed out into the open, and to say that it is overwhelming is a colossal understatement. The year 2020 will be infamously studied in future history books. At this point I have no idea how this nightmare is going to end, and I honestly have very little hope.
I don’t write this with solutions to all of the significant issues listed above. I have faith and trust in the brilliant scientists working around the clock and around the globe fighting to study and get control of COVID-19. I have the utmost respect and appreciation for first-responders, medical personnel, and all essential employees who are trying to keep the world from crumbling into more disarray. Finally, I give thanks to all individuals, organizations, governments, and countries that are genuinely and progressively addressing the issues the world is facing right now. We are fighting for the health and survival of ourselves, our friends and families, and our communities. We are fighting for racial equality and gender rights, and against conspiracists and untrustworthy, selfish governments. I stand with these movements wholeheartedly, but I am also here to advocate for a community of my own — our invaluable educators.
I am a young adult living in the not so United States of America. I grew up in Orange County and am a proud Southern Californian. Correction, I was a proud Southern Californian. I say “was” because I am also the child of two incredibly hardworking and dedicated teachers and the rest of my family is full of school personnel holding positions from teachers and administrators to daycare workers and coaches. I say “was” because Orange County has recently approved thirty schools to return to in-person instruction and if trends of COVID-19 continue to hold steady or decline, all K-12 schools will open again including where my parents and hundreds of other teachers work. Teachers are being forced back into their classrooms with children and teenagers who have always been walking infestations of germs. Now, however, these students could be carriers of a virus that does not discriminate against them, their classmates, their teachers, nor the families who welcome all of these people home each and every day.
COVID-19 is in no way under control, especially not in the United States, and I am enraged at the fact that school systems are suffering because of it. Other countries seem to be handling in-person learning right now but they also have much better control of the virus in general. We cannot compare to anyone else especially when the United States has more than 5.7 million reported cases and over 175,000 deaths as of August 25, 2020. And yet, “for the sake of our children” public officials are sending millions of students back into ill-prepared classrooms to learn from terrified teachers who are literally being sacrificed. When lockdowns in this country started, and kids were sent home to bewildered parents to learn remotely, teachers were praised beyond all measures. Everyone was finally realizing the insane levels of patience, dedication, and time that were necessary to teaching the future leaders of the world. There were calls for raises and countless expressions of gratitude, but all of this has been forgotten in just a few short months. Now, we are demanding that teachers once again enter the classroom and welcome kids back almost like nothing ever happened, like the pandemic isn’t still ravaging this country. I have heard and read research on many of the arguments being made about why going back to school needs to happen. I am aware of the importance of school as a place of not only education, but also safety, solace, nutrition, activity, and most popular of all, social-emotional learning. I do not in any way discredit the fact that schools are absolutely essential and that teachers are at the forefront of the benefits schools offer. I grew up in this system and with teachers for parents, so I have always been aware of this.
Even so, these claims regarding the importance of students learning in classrooms are being made based on research performed and data collected before COVID-19. Statistically speaking, almost absolutely everything we know about education from a scientific approach has neither been tested nor proven to be applicable during a global pandemic. I believe we are egregiously overshadowing the continued severity of this virus. We have watched trends on temporary bases, but have consistently observed that when lockdown orders have been lifted and people start interacting again, cases surge and we are concurrently sent crawling back into quarantine and isolation. We have ebbs and flows of hope and despair over the effects that this virus has had on a personal, social, economic, and worldwide level, and we still aren’t even close to knowing every consequence and attribute of COVID-19. This should not mean, however, that teachers are responsible for saving our struggling economy or for being babysitters to children who just don’t want to stay at home anymore. That is nowhere near what they signed up for when they took on these noble positions.
We are already seeing cases within the United States of schools reopening and closing literally days later because of a spike in cases. The protective measures we are taking may be the best that we can come up with right now, but they are obviously still not good enough. Sending kids back to school is like lighting bombs with fuses of varying lengths. Cases are going to surge, the bombs are going to go off, and the results will be inevitable and devastating. I don’t see how anyone can begin to equate in-person learning right now with human lives. People are still dying, and if they aren’t dying, many are suffering long-term debilitating symptoms that scientists and doctors know absolutely nothing about. There is no cure. There is no perfect treatment. There may not even be consistent immunity. We are simply living in a waiting game of who contracts the virus next.
Teachers have always been more than just educators; they are caretakers, counselors, nurses, friends, even parental figures. But asking them to put their lives on the line by returning to school while their administrators make these decisions from the safety of their online meetings far from any sort of classroom, is absurd. Many teachers don’t even have the option not to return to work. Districts have made threats about cutting funding, some teachers are not tenured and have their jobs on the line, and medical exemptions don’t always apply to the people they live with at home. Many teachers work in districts that lack the sufficient funding, supplies, and knowledge to properly protect them and guarantee their safety and lives. I feel for students, for what they have lost, and for what they are continuing to lose. I sympathize with their families as they struggle to take on a role they did not necessarily expect or prepare for in their child’s life. But I am asking everyone to consider the damage that is going to be done.
When cases surge and schools close down, kids will be shuffled back and forth from home to the classroom disrupting their schedules and preventing the development of any sort of normalcy. How does this ensure or support their stability, education, or social-emotional learning? All it takes is one person to contract the virus and change countless lives of the people they are being forced to interact with. These selfish and misguided decisions are going to kill students, teachers, and school faculty. We will see a rise in the number of funerals of children, parents, grandparents, and more including those at a high risk and not. Policymakers, districts, and school administrators are making empty promises to desperate parents who are just trying to find some sense of normalcy in this spiral we are enduring. Who is going to take responsibility when this all ends in more devastation? How are we going to explain to students why their classmate is never coming back to school or why they are getting a new teacher halfway through the year? Do the people in charge plan on attending every funeral they are going to cause? I guarantee that I would never get over the loss of either or both of my parents especially if it happened under the direct influence of the school boards they’ve served for over twenty years. I know I am not alone in this either.
I never would have imagined typing out a plea for the lives of my parents and all educators in this country, but here I am. I hope this letter makes even the smallest of a difference in someone’s thought process. I pray for the lives of my parents, my family members, my former teachers, and all school personnel as they look down the barrel of this pathetic and disgusting gun. I pray for the world around me and for an eventual end to this virus. I pray and I hope and I stay quarantined for my sake and the sake of others. I only wish everyone else would do the same. The only way we are going to get through this is together. I hope my words resonate with those in similar situations and especially with those who have the power to make a difference, and to effect change.

With regret and in desperation,
The Child of a Teacher

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#32205

This is my 5th year teaching. I teach at a private school. Due to COVID restrictions I am on a cart, on my feet, with no lunch break (I just eat really quickly between classes). We had to sign waivers that we won’t sue or go to the press with any negative reaction to reopening in person. I don’t feel good about the measures they are taking. We have had multiple COVID cases in the week we have been open. They won’t tell us who it was due to HIPPA, nor even what grades. We will be notified “if it concerns us”. It concerns me. I am in the minority at my school, but… I wish we were online. I don’t feel safe, my family is high risk, and the kids are miserable following these guidelines that, to be honest, don’t seem nearly enough. I feel so alone, and I feel that we are jeopardizing everyone’s health to provide childcare so that parents can go back to work. I get it. Its tough at home. But I wake up with a panic attack every day, no support from admin, and the sinking feeling that this is only going to get worse. Sorry to be a downer but… I had to say it somewhere.

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#32167

I’ll say I’m enjoying distance learning. It’s not effective but I do what I can for my students. I will say it’s nice not to see all the sour face or two faced people I work with. It’s quite comical to see them struggle but they themselves bring all kinds of calamities to their lives by just being horrible to people. If it goes like this all year I would be happy. Not having to see my coworkers has been the highlight of this pandemic

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#32050

I am just starting my third year as a high school science teacher (and as a teacher in general). I graduated from college with a degree in geoscience and simultaneously got my secondary science education certificate back in 2018 and I was so excited to go into the teaching world. I have always enjoyed education and loved the idea of passing on what I knew to the next generation. However, since I’ve started teaching, I have had many instances where I would ask myself if this was the career for me, even going as far as Googling questions like, “is it bad that im questioning my career” and “is being a gen ed teacher my calling.” Don’t get me wrong, I have had many great days in teaching and I still enjoy education in general, but I’m wondering if I should go into a different part of education, such as SPED or student services. I always knew that if I wasn’t a teacher of some kind, I would still want to do something where I help people, such as being a counselor. I know for a fact that helping people is my calling, whether in the classroom or somewhere else. The thing that makes this thought process hard, is the idea that I worked my butt off in college for five years, juggling hard classes and my mental health, almost dropping out completely, only to not feel fulfilled with my job. Because of these thoughts, I actually went through a depressive episode in the spring of my first year as a teacher and had to go back to therapy. Overall, my mental health improved greatly and my friends and family said its probably just because being a first year teacher is challenging, especially since I teach at a tough school, and “you will gain your love for being a Gen Ed teacher back in a few years once you get your footing.” But will I?

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#31980

One of my students lined up to sharpen their pencil last year, when they got to the front of the line it was like they were waiting for a personal invitation to sharpen their pencil. So I, not thinking of the fact that I am in a room full of middle school boys, say “stick it in already!” The boys in the back of the room proceeded to go “THATS WHAT SHE SAID.” As loud as they possibly can. I have to confess that I laughed so hard at that.

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#31801

I totally believe that I can be successful in a remote environment but it takes a lot of planning and thoughtful use of the online platform, especially for elementary age children. We as teachers should be getting ready for that now and not thinking of it as an emergency situation. It requires a different way of thinking about your classroom and the ability to be facile in the online environment. That can only come from sufficient planning and preparation. What we should be doing right now is planning with tech and professional development support and not this back and forth in-person, not in person, part live, part remote, and/or full remote. We need to do what is right and safe for our students, our families, and ourselves and to keep in mind it is only temporary.

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