Yesterday I heard Adele’s new song “Easy on Me” for the first time… It doesn’t matter where you are in life, Adele always finds a way to hit you right. in. the. feels. However, a song that is clearly about her romantic relationship ending somehow hit me in a very different way. From the very first few lines, I immediately thought about teaching. I love teaching. I love my students and I love my job. But you know what I don’t love? Teaching during a pandemic. Or maybe I should just say the pandemic… Teaching right now is hard. Last year was hard because we were all in the same storm (but let me say, very different boats) and the theme of the year was “grace”. This year? As we try to go to back to normal, life in the classroom is anything but..
“I can’t bring myself to swim when I am drowning…”
When Adele sang these words, I immediately pictured myself in front of my computer counting absent days of students and trying to determine where they are, where they should be, and where I can get them. Now, multiply that by about 120 students. There’s a reason I teach English, friends. Even counting a few days for a few students overwhelms me.
Last year, we gave grace to teachers. We accepted that they were struggling to learn new things. We admired them for learning new technology and incorporating it into their classrooms – virtual and brick and mortar. We weren’t quick to judge if they were behind or needed help… What happened to that?
“Go easy on me, baby…”
The grace seems to be dwindling as teachers are still very much overworked, overwhelmed, and oftentimes underappreciated. Let me first say that I don’t think anyone intentionally puts this weight on teachers. But can we all just agree that telling us to focus on “self-care” and giving us a mint because we are “mint” to be teachers isn’t the answer?
We could argue the underlying issues in education for
hours days. We could all go on forever how teachers aren’t paid enough and aren’t treated like professionals. We could dive into how teaching is the most micromanaged profession in the world and everyone thinks they could do a better job.
These discussions likely won’t get us anywhere. But, do you know what will?
“Go easy on [teachers], baby”
The next time you think about sending an email questioning why a teacher hasn’t updated grades in a few days, consider their workload and the fact that they are trying to balance teaching, sponsoring extra-curriculars, serving on various committees, maintaining their own continuing education and professional development, and, oh yeah, living a life outside of the classroom.
Before you call and complain to administration about a teacher, stop to ask yourself what could be behind that teacher’s actions. Have they been taking extra time to respond to an email? Is it because they are dealing with tragedies in their personal life? Did they break down in class today? Maybe they got a phone call that just changed life as they know it. Did they spend a majority of the day behind their desk? Is it possible that they are ill and couldn’t fathom the thought of abandoning their class regardless of their own personal health?
Instead of pushing “post” on that social media rant about how lazy teachers are because they get extended breaks or ask for more time in their day, consider the task they are faced with every single day. Now, add a pandemic on top of it.
And when a teacher (*cough* me *cough*) asks for you to go “easy on [her], baby”, it’s not because she doesn’t love her job. It’s not because she doesn’t love her students as if they were her own. It’s because she does. She loves her job, despite all of the challenges, more than she loves a brand new pair of shoes. And you can ask her students, she loves shoes…
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times, “teaching is hard, but loving kids is easy.” So, all I ask of you is to.. “go easy on me, baby.”