More schadenfreude on my popcorn, please.
I’m a teacher headed back to school next month. It’s going to be traumatic.
By Autumn Jones, 29 July 2020
Last week, the Colorado district where I teach announced schools would return August 18 for a hybrid of in-person and remote learning. That means that teachers must face the reality of walking into a school building where little of what we were taught about being a teacher will apply. We will be expected at school five days a week, teaching alternating groups of students while also providing remote instruction for those learning from home.
It is bound to be a shock — one that we’ll be absorbing just as many of us are coming to terms with the upheaval caused by the emergency school closures of March 12, 2020.
But… teachers are salaried, not hourly. Her summer vacation was six months long this year.
We are about to encounter a teacher mental health crisis of massive proportions. In the crucial conversation about how we make things right for our students — and we must — we cannot disregard the well-being of educators.
Autumn’s hair has every reason to be concerned about her mental health, being frizzy enough to defy a perm. But the rest is not unusual. The concave nose indicates openness and spontaneity, compared to the convex, “hawk” nose’s shrewdness. Eyebrows thicker on the inside are “visionary” as opposed to “managerial” so she’s probably not that good with paperwork, but handling kids seems a fine fit for that personality.
A little upper eyelid is showing on each eye, meaning she’s emotionally balanced towards the outside world. Chin is not masculinized.
She has a receding jaw… while I can’t normally tell from a frontal selfie, that overbite is suggestive. Such people tend to be highly ethical, meaning they follow their beliefs closely. She isn’t baring enough of the upper gum in this smile for me to think her main belief is ego but I can believe it’s a short trip.
Conclusion, she could have been a normal woman, liking kids and enjoying life spontaneously. But she wandered off the straight path, probably the cock carousel, until like her hair she became tightly wound and fraying at the edges. School politics probably didn’t help. Chinavirus certainly didn’t.
In this moment, our school leaders should be asking: What is being done to support the emotional needs of the teachers? Do they sleep well at night? Are they equipped with the psychological tools to return to an unfamiliar-looking building where they, in turn, are expected to be the emotional and academic cheerleaders for their students? What happens when, instead of getting the virus, we see educators experience anxiety, panic attacks, or stress-induced ailments? Do schools have the necessary supports in place to care for the mental health of its educators?
Normal human beings don’t call schoolteachers “educators”. That’s bureaucrat talk.
I would love to see our schools provide teachers with a mental health day…
They’re called Saturdays.
…debriefings with counselors, dedicated meditation spaces…
Sorry, tits, we already turned that into a lactation room.
…and “break cards” that teachers could use to call an administrator or a member of the support staff into their classroom — no questions asked — should they need time to recenter.
Because even on a normal day in a normal year, teachers are overwhelmed. Heck, I cried in front of 35 seventh-graders on a day when their challenging dynamic proved too much for my well-versed classroom management skills.
Last year’s difficulties pale in comparison to the coming year’s expectations.
I am facing a compounding difficulty in planning for the classes I am supposed to teach — robotics, multimedia, yearbook, and graphic design. When I look through the lesson plans I created for these classes last year, I see things like group work, partner activities, hands-on building, shared classroom materials, exploratory learning, icebreakers, flexible seating, flipped instruction, and Jolly Rancher Fridays.
Boo-hoo. I have to place building foundations in exactly the right place or I’ll get sued for eight digits, all while writing legal documents and training the new guy. Your Jolly Rancher Fridays do not stack up against my failing retaining walls.
I’m not completely unsympathetic–my church fed me to the seventh graders then refused to support my efforts to remove the bad apples, so I know exactly the kind of breakdown she’s describing–but the reason she’s stressed has nothing to do with kids or viruses, and everything to do with school administrators.
Don’t blame the kids, Barbie, or the kids might think the problem is their fault. It is not.
I have to rethink every single one of these things through the lens of “don’t touch, don’t share, don’t get too close.”
Then don’t do it. Do what has worked for you instead and when administrators complain you’re spreading the Spanish Flu of 1918, tell them you aren’t going to change. Maybe they’ll fire you and maybe they’ll back down… either will reduce your stress load. Many teachers have been NOT fired over much worse.
Give your students the gift of a normal childhood.
Every assignment will be individual. Most of what I’ve learned about classroom management and responsive education goes out the door. The high fives and handshakes upon entering, for example. The tennis ball that we pass around when we’re taking turns speaking. The use of proximity to corral an off-task student.
Again, give your students the gift of a normal childhood.
The most traumatic part for me is not whether or not we are in the physical school building; it is that students won’t be able to act like children and teachers won’t be able to act like educators — at least not in the traditional sense.
When she’s right, she’s right. And here, she’s totally right.
Try telling a kindergartener that he can’t be on the playground with his friends. Try telling a middle schooler that she can’t swap scrunchies with her girlfriends (and, yes, scrunchies are back). Try telling a high school student in a P.E. class that he can’t play basketball because it’s just too risky to share a ball and guard other players. Try telling an aspiring engineer that she can’t use the classroom materials to build the robot she had been developing.
Autumn’s complaint is fully legit. What is stressful about the coming school year is not that sixth graders will act like sixth graders. It’s that SIXTH GRADERS WON’T BE ALLOWED TO ACT LIKE SIXTH GRADERS.
COVID-19 has nothing to do with medicine. It has everything to do with population control. It is the most malevolent piece of social engineering since the Khmer Rouge declared “everybody is now a farmer. Empty the cities at gunpoint”.
No teacher knows how to handle these scenarios. There was nothing in my bachelor’s or master’s programs that prepared me for this. Nothing in my student teacher training or my four years of leading a classroom. And if we experienced teachers are floundering, imagine what a first-year teacher must feel like right now.
We menfolk know how to handle this: all the rope in Texas and a big oak tree. Punishing simple violence is wrong because some violent people are the good guys. But women can’t see this. It’s really not their job to see when a leader of society needs a stretching for child cruelty.
How did this come to pass? The extermination of fathers. No father worth the vertebra in his spine would tolerate his child being treated worse than a lifer on Death Row. But fathers are no longer allowed in their childrens’ lives.
I wish I could say, “I have a solution!” or that I even have the faintest idea of how things will play out in the coming months. What I do know is that teachers are going through a really hard time as they face the uncertainties and attempt to help their students deal with this moment, too. There’s not exactly a “Returning to School in a Pandemic” guidebook for students or teachers.
Teachers need your friendship, your love, and your encouragement now more than ever. They need to know that they are heard and that their fears are valid.
I have a solution! Teachers need to go back to their husbands. This problem was created by women replacing their husbands with the State, so the solution is to replace the State with husbands… restoring God’s natural order for society. Everything else is, to use the medical term, palliative care.
The problem is not that female rebellion had consequences. The problem is female rebellion.
Teachers may not be able to conquer as much curriculum as in years past, and the ways they teach may be limited — not by their own creativity, but by the safety protocols in place. They also may need the option to step out of the classroom, collect themselves and begin again (see: “break cards”). Understand that they still love your children, our children, and want the best possible education for each and every one of them. Presume positive intentions.
Autumn, if you loved those children then you wouldn’t treat them like disease vectors. In fact, it would be enough to love your husband. He could give you the strength to do what needs to be done.
They also need to know that you will support them in whatever decisions they make. For some, returning to the classroom is going to be too much, and that is OK. Don’t crucify them for honoring their mental health. For others, a really tough day in the classroom may mean that they can’t muster the energy to go to your social event. Don’t hold it against them.
Also, please be cautious when posting your opinions about the return-to-school on social media. It can be a volatile place and, of late, a toxic space of politicization. Recognize that active listening instead of active shouting may be in everybody’s best interest.
Pray for teachers. Please pray for me. There’s a long road ahead, and we teachers need all the help we can get.
I pray you “ed-zoo-caterers” would put down your boxed wine and cats, quit complaining and repent on your knees to God and Husband for opening school-sized doors for the wicked to come in and rule over you. The window for repentance is closing swiftly.