This year we asked teachers to do more than they’ve ever had to do, while paying them hardly anything, and risking their lives.
And they just did it.
About a decade and a half ago, I was a kindergarten teacher myself. I left the profession, not because I didn’t love teaching, but because I couldn’t afford to raise a family on a teacher’s salary. This year, I watched all my teacher friends struggle through the hardest year of their entire teaching career, and I have never been more impressed.
I watched an elementary art teacher figure out how to make hundreds of individual art kits so she could serve her students while still keeping them from touching the supplies everyone else’s hands have been on. She spent hours and hours making those things, tons of her own money making sure they were supplied, and even more of her own time convincing local businesses to donate the pizza boxes she put the kits in.
And she just did it, because that’s what teachers do. Thank you.
I watched a kindergarten teacher figure out how to use zoom. She crowd sourced to figure out how to keep her students engaged from home while still teaching them things like how to read and write. Over the freaking internet. She failed at first. Cried over mute buttons and trying to teach people to read things on a screen when they don’t know how to read.
She didn’t give up. She kept going until she figured it out. Thank you.
I watched a high school math teacher figure out how to teach some of her students in her classroom, but the others at home. He couldn’t even figure out how to get her mic to work. The wifi in his school was bad, and his camera made it so the kids at home couldn’t even see the board. He figured out how to use his phone as a document camera with a pencil, some tape and a rubber band.
He made it work. Thank you.
I watched a middle school counselor try to reach her students at home. She knew they were missing each other. That they needed someone to talk to other than their parents. She set up virtual zoom hangouts for the kids to have someone their age to talk to.
I truly believe she saved lives. Thank you.
I watched a junior high English teacher be given a ziplock baggie with five Clorox wipes and one disposable face mask. That was his school provided PPE. For the entire year. His wife was also a school teacher, and she decided to stay home with their children because one of them was high risk. Their income was cut in half. He asked the parents of his students for help providing PPE. None of them came through.
They worked it out, sacrificing so many things in their own lives in order to prioritize safety equipment. And kept their family safe, as well as their students. Thank you.
I watched a choir teacher be told that she would still have choir class in person, but that she and her students weren’t allowed to sing while in the classroom. They also had to remain 6 feet apart. One of her classes had 68 students. She bought shower curtains and pvc pipe to make barriers between the children. She built these things herself, having no idea what she was doing.
She kept her students safe. Thank you.
These teachers did the impossible. They spent all their free time grading work both online and off. They spent all their own money keeping our children safe. They gave everything they had to get through the hardest year of our lives, and they did it because they love kids. Because they are amazing people.
Dear Teachers, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I want you to know that I see you. I appreciate you.
And I am so impressed with you.