Our school system started classes on Wednesday, August 12. We had two options: in-person learning or remote learning. In theory, it's great. Families who wanted in-person learning got what they wanted, and families who wanted their kids at home got what they wanted. Except, it didn't really work that way for the remote learners.
The remote learners were promised live-streamed classrooms and Zoom calls and lots of personal attention. Although I wanted to believe it would happen, I was skeptical. As it turns out, trying to deal with in-person students and remote students all at the same time has made our teachers stressed, tired, beaten down, and broken.
VCS told the general public on July 31 that both in-person and remote learning would be offered. That gave the teachers twelve days before school started to get prepped to teach in a way they have never had to teach before. Just in case you missed it, read it again: TWELVE DAYS. That's not a lot of days, by the way. The teachers asked for more time to become familiar with how to use technology to better teach their students, and they were denied. They asked for teachers who could be remote-specific instructors, and they were denied. What we ended up with is giving all students in the district an elearning day on Wednesdays in order to give the teachers some time to catch up and breathe from dual-platform teaching. Now a petition written by an anonymous parent is going around saying that's a bad idea, too, so I guess we're just not allowed to have nice things.
There was a school board meeting to discuss the change, and I was embarrassed and appalled at the attitudes of some of the parents. A lot of them are wondering why it's such a big deal because "live-streaming is easy"and why can't the teachers handle it. Um, not so much. Live-streaming may be easy when everyone has fantastic, up to date technology and WIFI for days. Live-streaming isn't so easy when teachers are using their laptops to live-stream and therefore cannot use their laptops for anything else, like teaching. Live-streaming isn't so easy when the Internet cuts out at least thrice during a class period. Live-streaming isn't easy when there are some students whose parents don't want their image being live-streamed into strangers' houses. Live-streaming isn't easy when a teacher has to sit in front of a laptop to teach in order to stay connected to the remote learners which means she can't walk around or connect with the in-person learners. And Zoom? It's okay, but if you have ever tried to get a group of kids on Zoom then you know how it's similar to herding a group of goslings mixed in with kittens. It's impossible to hear everyone, kids are using the chat area to write "poop" over and over, and most students end up holding up their household pets for the class to see. And before you get all anecdotal with me about how wonderful your children's experiences have been, just slow your roll. I taught university students remotely, and it wasn't all sunshine and roses.
Other parents basically said that everyone is stressed, and teachers need to suck it up and get with the program. Oddly enough, many of those people are health-care workers, and I seem to remember the entire nation rallying around them when all this started in the spring. We threw money at the health care industry to help with the problem, and I don't see anyone offering to do that for education. As a matter of fact, I see people writing that they'll do anything to support teachers, but...If you really want to support teachers, there is no "but:" you just do it. Of course everyone is stressed. The pandemic is bizarro world, and it has flipped the universe upside down. But you know who I definitely don't want to be short-tempered, worn out, and frazzled? The dedicated people who choose to be with my children every day. I would prefer that the people who are teaching and influencing my kids on a daily basis are happy and calm and respected. I would also think that those of you who are squawking about wanting what is best for your kids would like to show them through your words and actions that you are behind their teachers one hundred percent. If we truly all want our kids to be in their best mindsets, we need to show them positivity from all sides, teachers and parents alike.
Boycotting the Wednesday elearning days is detrimental to our students and to our teachers. Listen, we all want our kids in school full-time, able to socialize and laugh with their friends, participate in extra-curricular activities, and really enjoy themselves. I don't know anyone who doesn't want that. The fact is that we're not going to get what we want right now, and we need to deal with it. It's time to put up or shut up.