Teaching Unfairness

I thought I would bring you a little insight into what a school goes through when it's missing its students.

This tale needs no prologue or back story, because it is the same one everyone is currently living. Our children, our students are being asked to socially distance themselves from one another in order to prevent mass illness. Therefore, our schools are empty.


They are empty of wiggly bodies and oversharing. They are empty of the sound of endless chirping and chattering and their playground swings remain still. Our school buildings are empty of the sounds of keyboards clacking, mouse clickings and electric pencil sharpeners whirring their mighty motors.

But do you know what they are not empty of?


You know what else?


No, our buildings are definitely not void of these two things. In fact, quite the opposite, the sounds of these two things echo about the school walls.

If you thought for even a millisecond, that during this time, teachers everywhere were yahoo-ing over an extended-style spring break, you are wild-crazy-so-bass-ackwards-mistaken-you-might-want-to-find-a-compass.

Our teachers have ground themselves to a thin line to try to put out quality content of some type for their beloved learners.

No half-assed, partially-baked lessons will do for these teachers, they will work, re-do, first draft, redraft, final draft, backspace, edit and copy and paste until their fingers are set to fall off in order to keep their kids from falling behind.

And they will do this with a heaviness in their hearts that borders on funeral-setting. (You may be thinking you're being a little dramatic here, Jess. Funeral? Hold on while I complete my exaggerated eye roll. ...But wait until my tale is told before you judge my mood comparisons, please.)

Today our school had "delivery day" for the students to come pick up their packets of work. We did this in the most organized, efficient and safest way we knew how. We packed, we alphabetized, plotted methods and charted delivery plans. In the end, the best way for it to work was to deliver packets "curbside style" - straight to the awaiting vehicles of parents so limited interaction was respected. This meant two of our staff were outside as "deliverers" and the rest were stationed at various places inside as "runners."

Keep in mind, as I tell you this, our average temperature today was an overcast 36 degrees. It was no picnic-in-the-park to be stationed as a deliverer. And yet, we all fought for a turn to do so.

Deliverers were the coveted spots that got to wave and occasionally say hi through rolled-down-car-windows to our students. On more than one instance when I was in a delivery spot, a runner would bring me a packet and before she would hand it to me would ask, "are the kids in the car? I'd like to say hi."

And so it went. Delivering packet after packet while peeking like stalkers into windows to catch a glimpse of their faces for some reassurance they were okay. Happy. Healthy. Smiling.

More than once I heard teachers telling of tears they have shed during the course of this wild week. Tears, not because they felt stressed and overworked but because they felt shorted and like something had been ripped away from them too soon. Sad because they feel slighted on the amount of time they were given with these students. ...Even if school were to resume, their time spent will be cut significantly shorter.

Which, oddly, is something much akin to what you often hear people say when they tragically lose someone they care about. They often say, (let's all say it together here, because nothing makes my vanity swell like the sound of multiple people saying I'm right,) "I wish I had had more time." (...so my funeral analogy above...not too far off, huh? MAN, I love being right!)

This is what I will wrap this up with; in the midst of all this weirdness, give your child's teacher a little extra grace when you think he/she is "checking in" a little too much. Another Zoom session? Another Flipgrid video? Another write a paragraph and tell me something you did...? Another email for you to read? Another question for you to answer?


Yes to all of these things because they are the only way these teachers have any piece of mind that these young people, that they miss so dearly, are okay. Its part assignment and part piece of mind. They went from seeing these kids for seven hours a day to none. Zero. That's a big jump. That's what happens when you drop your kid off at college.

And these teachers - they're not ready to drop your kid at college yet. They've still got more wisdom to impart on them before they're ready to let go to that extent.

Lastly, if there's been one/ten or seventy-six billion moments in the last week or so of social/distance/homeschooling that you've wished your kids would just go back to school already! I would be willing to bet your child's teacher would match every one of those moments wishing the exact. same. thing.