Dear teachers, thank you and we’re sorry.
December 20, 2020
You deserve better than blank Zoom boxes, current options
An ugly truth has come to me recently: I’ve been taking you for granted. How pathetic. It took me a global pandemic and the uprooting of a typical school year for me to realize the unsung heroes standing before me. As I read this back, I can’t help but cringe. Y’all deserve an apology.
I am sorry for not turning on my video some mornings. I like to think I am beyond caring what other people think, but the truth is, some mornings, the idea of other people seeing my messy hair and sleepy eyes freaks me out. I think it takes a lot of bravery to do what y’all do: to stand and teach amid a virtual classroom of eyes looking your way (even if they are all black boxes and don’t look like eyes at all).
I am sorry for sometimes not doing my homework until the last minute. I am a procrastinator. Your patience is astounding.
Thanks for pointing out how I switched my negative and positive signs for the 15th time that day (I appreciate it, Ms. Seckar-Martinez). And for explaining how an aggregate-demand aggregate-supply graph works (they still confuse me, Ms. Wachsmann, but that’s not for lack of good teaching on your end). And being considerably tolerant of the fact that after four years of French, I still can’t form a coherent sentence (Ms. Favrin, it’s not your fault).
I’m also sorry for ever saying the clichéd “I hate school.” I take it back, really.
A lot of grit, sweat and love goes into your job. I can’t imagine the exhaustion you must feel; dedicating your whole lives to a livelihood dedicated to other people.
But I know that your exhaustion has gotten worse, because after giving everything you have to your students, AISD seeks to take what little you have left.
There’s a fundamental issue with how AISD is treating its teachers right now. Teachers who want nothing more than to teach are being used as pawns in AISD’s big chess game. How many pawns will be sacrificed while the queen hides, unmoving? It’s just sad. Who would have thought me saying “teachers deserve the right to feel safe” could be construed into a political statement?
I think the saddest part is this: AISD’s intentions are good. There are kids who need to be at school right now. The purpose of AISD to provide them with a safe space is admirable and necessary. But as teachers and staff have expressed time and time again, this is not the way to go about it.
Let teachers teach. That’s what they seek. AISD, don’t taint their passion with politics. Let’s focus on bettering the online school experience. Let’s focus on giving teachers outlets to improve their online lessons.
So once again, I express my deepest apologies. Sorry for taking y’all for granted. I think some of it has to do with my age (my mom says all teenagers are self-obsessed), but still, I want to let you know I appreciate you. A lot.
When we’re in charge, we won’t forget what you’ve done for us
Your job is complicated. During this pandemic, there is so much give and take between wanting to protect your health and wanting to keep your jobs. You shouldn’t have to make that decision.
Child care is such a complicated decision to make, because either way it’s a sacrifice. If you choose to send your children to day care, that’s a health risk factor. In addition, child care is often too expensive on a teacher’s salary. On the flip side, you could opt out of expensive and somewhat risky child care and choose to have a family member watch your child, but that exposes that family member to the school environment that teachers are forced to subject themselves to every day.
One of my teachers recently had to make the tough decision between her family’s health and her own responsibilities. She has a young child at home who needs constant care, but both she and her husband work. Her mother, whose age put her in the high-risk bracket for COVID-19, came to stay with the family and help care for her child, while she and her husband worked. She did not receive accommodations, so her choice was this: return to campus and expose her high-risk mother to everyone at school by proxy, or take a leave of absence without pay. In the end, she chose her mom’s health. But because of this choice she was forced to make, my classmates and I have now gone for months without our teacher. The community I used to feel from that class is gone, washed away in the wake of so much apathy from our district towards protecting our teachers.
Don’t you see? Don’t you understand just how much you are taking your teachers for granted? They aren’t disposable; they won’t be kicked around. They are human beings just like you and me, and they are braver than anyone I know for doing what they do. They make the ultimate sacrifice. Every day they risk their lives for their jobs because doing this is what they love, plain and simple. They don’t do this for the money, believe me. They do this for the kids. And AISD, you need to realize that you owe the greatest debt to your teachers. They are risking their lives to educate the next generation.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Our teachers’ civil service will one day create the next generation of leaders. When it’s our job to look out for teachers, I know we won’t turn a blind eye. As we become the next generation of policymakers, lobbyists and school board officials, we will look back on our teachers’ dedication to us, and we will dedicate ourselves to repaying them. This generation of students has seen the immense sacrifices made by staff during the pandemic, and it won’t be forgotten. But we don’t have to wait. Our teachers and staff need us now, and it’s up to us to advocate for them when they do so much for all of us. We can pay them more, we can grant accommodations for those who need them, we can let them teach remotely. Their health and wellness is essential to all of us. AISD, I implore you to open your eyes and ears to the present reality.
Teachers, I’m sorry. And I thank you.