Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has virtually shut down all non-essential functions of the nation. From restaurants to shopping malls, people are feeling the squeeze of the pandemic. This is no less true for education. Schools, like many other places, have temporarily shut their doors, with one big difference. Teachers are still getting paid…so they need to act like it.
This headline probably comes off as accusatory. Implying that teachers aren’t taking their adjusted roles seriously. In general, nothing can be further from the truth. I have watched teachers at my school and many others scramble to figure out “E-Learning” so they could best serve their students. I have watched admin bend over backward to secure technology and internet for students, so they could access necessary course work. Unfortunately, there are always a few teachers who take advantage, and this situation is no different. These are the teachers saying things like, “Well we might as well just cancel school early” or “E-Learning isn’t going to help.” These are the teachers who are secretly happy just to be “out of school.”
There is no way around it. E-Learning does not replace in-person instruction. And for the most part, checking up on students via online platforms is a little easier than managing a class of 34 students. It’s okay to have those thoughts, but it is not okay to “mail it in” or to attempt to inspire other teachers or admin to do the same. These teachers make up a small minority but enough that you can see their posts and musings on social media. These thoughts would of-course be bad enough even if they weren’t on the internet for all to see, but the optics of teachers complaining about still having to do stuff even though schools are closed or worse, teachers openly relieved not to have to go into work is untenable.
We started this school year where the last one left off…fighting for greater teacher compensation. In a major stroke of irony, teachers are now on the favorable end of a compensation debate. They have kept their jobs and pay while many have had their pay reduced or taken away altogether. That doesn’t mean that the issues teachers rallied about are settled when things get back to normal… but it does mean people don’t want to hear us complain about doing our jobs right now.
At this very moment, teachers are in an extremely privileged position and we should be working as hard as we can to make sure we are doing our part during the pandemic.