Exhaustive. Unsustainable. Often defeating. We smile on camera as the Google Classroom we carefully constructed seems to burn all around us, our bitmoji mocks us with its posed perfection that resists execution of commands at the most crucial of times (just keep clicking…please let the link work…).
Stop. Look up. This is temporary.
From one teacher to another I want to tell you: Despite feeling the flames licking at the edge of your online classroom, you will not be defeated. You have nothing to fear because you are fire. You are the burning beauty of passion and pride and drive, and despite being exhausted, you persist.
Distance Learning is exhausting. But you keep smiling, you keep adjusting — the smiling/terrified/bored/confused faces in boxes in front of you are counting on you. For every missing or difficult child, there are those that are staring at you and excited to see your face.
They, like you, are showing up. They, like you, are fighting their fight.
This is not meant to be sustained, but to be a holding place until the return of the ideal, the normal, the sustainable. To hold teachers to the same standards that were set before the world was taken hostage by the insidious, invisible tyrant of disease is not maintaining normalcy. Rather, it is taking a marathon runner and forcibly removing a leg while handing them a pirate’s peg and saying, “run again now, but faster.”
We are posed with two choices: impossible #1 and incomprehensible #2 — as if these are the only ways of continuing our craft.
As teachers, we are told to make the best of things and innovate, while the decision-makers sit with their blades at ready to cut down our burgeoning excitement with another demand, directive or decision that requires that we innovate within parameters abjectly opposed to change, insistent that online learning should reflect “business as usual”.
There are better ways. There are sustainable ways. Unfortunately the channel that flows from national to state to local burns the paths on all sides, resulting in teachers running on our wooden pegs, crying for respite while those who gave us the wooden leg are forced to type with wooden fingers, their hands of help being severed by those that have zero concept of what it is to be in a classroom.
So we smile. We meet, we zoom, we canva, because that is what teachers do. We adapt. We pivot. We burn. We burn with passion for our craft, dedication to our students, and frustration at the impossible standards that have been set. This fire within us shall never be quenched.
But, dear teachers, we will remember these times. We will remember our difficult days devoid of validation of our struggles, and insistence that the status quo remains maintained. We will remember the demands that sapped us of our strength and cried for innovation without the willingness to accept change.
I urge you, you, who are clicking away furtively on your screen, look up.
Focus on this: You are the phoenix.
You will rise from the ashes of these days stronger, more beautiful, and more fierce than ever.
You are the phoenix. You will rise.