How’s the start of the school year treating you? In today’s environment, that’s about as welcoming a question for a teacher as asking a pregnant woman how she’s feeling or inquiring about the job search for an unemployed professional. Should this typically routine question slip out on accident, then my suggestion is to get ready for an earful — or even better, go find the nearest piece of furniture and DUCK!
Teachers’ tasks right now are just as prevalent as all those TikTok videos that surfaced about COVID during the early days of the pandemic that made fun of the contradicting guidelines. Have the children seated 6 feet apart, but on the playground they can take their mask off and wrestle. They need their own crayons and supplies at art, but they can all use the same blocks or puzzles. Your students should never see you without your mask, but you can go eat lunch at the picnic table while another class is on the playground.
The number of guidelines in place for this superficial show, in which we’re supposed to project an image where we look like we know what we’re doing, is laughable.
So, how’s it really going?
Well, let’s look first from a child’s perspective. They have a constant snot-catcher right under their nose, or if you prefer, a drool-catcher under their chin, which by the way, turns into this really cool spit-slinging toy when they get bored. They have less learning time because their teachers are trying to log onto digital learning platforms and are in the bathroom 24/7 because the whole class has to wash their hands 20 times per day. I think they are like pigs in mud, happy to be around their friends again.
As a teacher, it’s a struggle. Try wearing a mask while you talk for six hours straight, projecting your voice for a digital learner microphone, sing, and read books. Lord knows you better be ready to pay for Lasik if you are a person who wears glasses because you can’t say four words without those spectacles fogging up on you. And no matter how good your hearing is, you can’t understand any child muffled by their two-ply mouth muzzle. By the end of the morning meeting maybe 45 minutes into your day, you will feel light-headed and ready to pass out. And if that doesn’t happen, by the end of the week, you could get a lovely yeast infection in your mouth. That’s right people, a yeast infection can end up in your mouth from recycling your breath in those face coverings.
All people, adults and children, need relationships and connection to flourish and learn. We need to feel safe and loved, not scared and anxious. Schools and districts need to care about their teachers in order to create an environment for children to learn best. Because no yeast-ridden, technology-stressed, air-grasping, hard-of-hearing teacher is doing what they love.
Maybe I’m alone in this mindset. There are some control freaks who are loving this time to close up in their room and have 100% control over their students and teach like it’s 1940. To each his own!
I mean what’s the worst that can happen? Well, in 20 years when everyone is getting their ears pinned back and nose jobs to fix the smooshed mask faces, and therapists are rolling in the dough for helping anxiety-ridden germaphobes, I guess we will have all the answers.
So, what do you do with this information? Be kind. Show teachers empathy. Allow extra time for them to respond. And gift them breath spray, water bottles, and wine.
Our “Dear Parent, From a Teacher” series helps parents obtain the tools and insight to ensure a successful school year for their children. If you are a teacher who wishes to write a guest blog for this series, please email your topic to [email protected]