School Districts Need to Stop Acting like It’s Business as Usual
Teachers are burnt out and frustrated
Teachers are tired — beyond tired. We’re halfway through February vacation and I dread returning to the classroom. I want to return recharged and ready to continue instruction, instead I know I’ll be returning to more of the same — patronizing administrators, lackadaisical students, and plenty of attitudes.
I like being a teacher. It’s an honorable profession. But I’m tired of teachers being dumped on, especially during the pandemic. We placed our lives on the line since 2020 and received nothing but grief. No one cared if a teacher had a compromised immune system or had family members at home with health issues. No one wanted to continue remote learning even though it made it easier for teachers to do their jobs and be at home for their loved ones. Everyone wanted the students back in school for their mental health. Meanwhile, teachers were losing their minds.
When students returned to the classroom, in a hybrid format, it was a good situation — at first. We had smaller class sizes and were able to spread the students out in our classrooms. The students traveled in a strict cohort and classrooms were wiped down between transitions. It was a good situation despite my principal treating me like an idiot and calling me stupid.
Why? Because before we went hybrid, many of the students weren’t engaging online. Despite my many efforts (messaging students, contacting parents, etc), it wasn’t enough for my principal. He didn’t like me anyway and that was a fact before the pandemic began. He gave me a trash evaluation that hangs over me like the Sword of Damocles.
I thought having the union be my evaluator would be a better situation. I was wrong. Despite all my efforts in the fall, I was still given a “needs improvement” on my evaluation. I was working for a “proficient” and now I have to hope that my final eval will earn that. But I have my doubts.
So now what? I can work myself crazy, trying to have the students act right when I get observed, make sure my lesson is top-notch perfect, or just give up and deal with the fallout. I’m on the fence. 50/50. I want to do other things with my life. Teaching hasn’t been fun in over a decade. I’ve been through so much since I first began this career (depression, elevated stress levels, cancer, my mother passing away, fractured marriage, and financial pressures), I’m a different person.
I want to believe that every student can be taught. But it’s more like does every student want to be taught? I deal with so much negativity from students. It’s disheartening. Plus, many students are addicted to their damn cell phones! I mean to the point that they’d rather fail my class than put the phone away. It’s so frustrating!
Of course, the admin blames me for the students’ behaviors. Not thinking about how addicted the students are to their phones. I see students in the halls on their phones. They take their phones with them to lunch, to the bathroom, and hide them on their laps in class. If we had a test on cell phones, every student would receive an A+.
But let me ask the students to write a paragraph on a question from the lesson and they start groaning and moaning. At the high school level, students should be writing multi-page essays. A paragraph should be something a 3rd grader could do. But some of my 9th graders act like I’m asking them to rewrite “War & Peace.”
Between vaping, smoking marijuana, and playing video games, many of my students don’t see school as a priority. It’s a place where “they have to go.” At least until they turn 16 and can legally drop out. Many students are waiting to turn 16 and leave school behind. But they don’t say what they’ll do if they’re not in school. What’s the plan? Oftentimes, there isn’t one.
That’s why teachers are tired. That’s why we’re frustrated. We can’t educate in a pandemic. Teachers are tired of struggling with students who don’t want to be educated. We’re tired of our evaluations being dinged for the actions of the students. Teachers show up every day, lessons ready, doing their jobs, and receive no appreciation. For Black teachers, it’s even worse.
I’m going to enjoy what’s left of my February vacation. I will pray that the week we return goes smoothly. I’ll do my lessons and instruct the students. I’ll also look for an exit out of the classroom. I’m ready for another role in education. Something that allows me to help teachers and students has a better educational experience. So we can all regain our sanity.