A lot has changed in education over the years, some for the better and some for the…not so better. Like, remember when we could actually use our prep periods to get work done instead of cover another teacher’s class? All snark aside, my now-retired aunt used to bring her Student of the Month home for celebratory ice cream sundae! Can you imagine if teachers did that today?! So many of the things we used to do to go the extra mile or be more efficient at our jobs are simply off-limits in this current climate. Here are examples of things teachers could never get away with today.
1. Physically Comfort Kids
Even pre-pandemic, hugging students was already considered risky. It’s a sad day when an adult has to think twice about physically comforting a child in need, but that’s the unfortunate situation teachers are in these days.
2. Give Students the Option to Fail
Students used to have the choice to fail. The consequences that resulted from that choice would then teach them important life lessons. Today? There’s only compromising a child’s education to appease unhappy parents. And that’s a damn shame.
3. Hold Students Accountable for Their Behavior
The kids are on to us, you guys. They know they can act a fool and get away with it. Somewhere along the line, we stopped enforcing school rules and holding their behavior to appropriate standards. We can argue about why and when this happened, but all I know is it’s a trend I’d like to see reversed.
4. Teach Facts
Conspiracy theories and subversive narratives have existed forever, but not until recently did they earn a place in our classrooms. Texas’s new law emboldened a school official to advise teachers to include “opposing views” when teaching the Holocaust. Apparently factual accounts of historical events are off-limits these days.
5. Enforce Personal Boundaries
It is widely assumed (and thus expected) that parents and students should have 24-hour access to their teachers. It doesn’t matter that mom’s email came through at 8:30 pm; she expects a response within the hour. It is inconsequential that students submitted their essays last period; they are expecting immediate feedback. If teachers do not prioritize our job over all else, we are labeled as unqualified or inefficient. The way our career bleeds into our personal lives is one of the major reasons so many of us are on the struggle bus.
6. Have Fun Without Ending Up on TikTok
It used to be that the kindergartners would let us know if we had something in our teeth or if they didn’t quite like our outfit. Today, students stream everything from our passionate raving about Maya Angelou’s poetry to the toilet paper trailing on the bottom of our shoe. Heaven forbid we enjoy a margarita at Chili’s or swim at a public pool. Our sips and dips will inevitably become fodder for GIFs and Instagram stories. Nothing is sacred, privacy is no more!
It’s my hope that future evolutions of education will again put learning at the center, give teachers more autonomy in their classrooms, and require students to use the most flattering filters when they plaster us all over their social media channels.