Stretched Too Thin

 Dear learners,

As we entered this school year, I knew that I was going to be part of a minority. Only 4% of schools were planning to have any in-person learning at all; we were. The parents of the district had voted and so it was decided that we would resume school in person with intense safety protocols and requirements. This announcement was not well-received; a survey had gone out to staff, both certified and classified and more than 70% stated that they did NOT feel safe returning to in person learning. But (see money talks) the district sided with the parents and disregarded their staff\’s concerns. Plowing forward, we had no choice but to figure it out.

So far this year I have had to (with my teaching partner, principal and PA) figure out how to create a sustainable schedule. I am fairly confident that my headstone will read \”She finally figured out her schedule.\” Then, I had to change rooms. Then my partner took another job in the district and we had to figure out how to support her kids until a new teacher was hired. She had a series of subs. 

We interviewed and hired a replacement. For a collection of reasons I am still not clear on, that person could not actually take the position until…..drum roll, please….Fall 2021 due to a contractual obligation that was somehow missed by literally every district person and everyone on the  hiring team. So we lobbied to get our .5 moved to sub long term. She had been in the classroom since almost the beginning of the school year. That took a ridiculous amount of time. She was finally allowed to become the leave replacement for that position. So from that time, we have been building a program that supports all of our students. It has been exhausting, but it seems we have finally (December 4th, mind you) reached a state of equilibrium. Don\’t anybody touch anything or I will literally lose my ever loving mind.

Just reading through those paragraphs is stressful. Looking back, I am not sure how I got through it. I didn\’t even include the paraprofessional drama, which continues. The blessing of my current partner, who I completely adore, is tainted by the reality that she will not likely get to stay in the fall. (See above) So I am trying to enjoy and appreciate every day that goes by that we get to work together.

So feeling stretched, yes. Having students come and go in record time, not fun. Living with the spectre of going remote hanging over our heads, and receiving no direction or leadership to manage such an event, also not my favorite. Yet, we endure. We show up and we teach kids, every day. I am seeing growth and learning, confidence and change. Our students may be traumatized, but they are here. And we are here. And we are almost to Christmas break, that great deep breath in the winter. 

I guess I want to pat myself (and literally every other teacher on the planet, virtual and in person) on the back for a hard job well done. I have stuck to my commitment to refrain from complaining, to look for the good, to work on using my growth mindset and be a team player. Not easy every day, but there you have it. 

I am watching P wrangle all of his work, school and student teaching duties and observing that he is beginning to see and understand the life of a teacher. I am so proud of him. He is so so tired.  He is already a unique and sensitive teacher, taking the time to know students and truly understand how to support them as they struggle to learn.  By the time he finishes, he will have both virtual and in person experience. He will be a wonder; he already is.

So for now, in the midst, we all continue to stretch.