Teacher perspectives

Editor:

Teachers are scrambling, students are unsure of the future, and families are trying to keep it together. Administration is trying to implement the correct rules and procedures for a COVID-safe environment, all while simultaneously laying out the lessons, curriculum and standards needed to be addressed this school year. How is any of this possible?

The answer, I believe wholeheartedly, is simply … it is not. A look inside what is really going on in schools is worth a minute to really try and scratch the surface of the complexity of the problem before we even begin to think of a possible solution.

One teacher I met with last week has been working in the schools for many years. Teachers are doing everything they can to give students opportunities to fulfill their passions in a variety of ways, from getting hands-on experiences to taking on projects and initiatives to meet their desires and learning goals, while still being parents and taking care of their own kids.

This story is a small capture of how our own experiences are connected directly to what others have been dealing with on a global level. This story resonated with me in ways I never understood until after I heard it.

“It was such a joy to have the students back on campus and to be able to interact with them in person instead of over a computer. Then, the hard reality of the situation hit very quickly as we began to plan for a sense of normalcy, only to have school plans change last minute.

“The hardest part was to see the tears rolling down the faces of the students who were looking forward to those new experiences. The wide variety of reactions I saw as the changing COVID rules and protocols became a daily reality is what began to sink in with what I was observing in my own experiences.

“Some people were very fearful and almost did not show up for in-person at all. The anxiety of interacting with others in proximity was an obvious challenge. Then the other extreme was those that hated the new rules and procedures and tried everything they could to change or challenge the system.

“Then there were those who were more silent. Those that showed up every day in their masks, following the new protocols, but you were unsure of what was digging at them deep inside. They found their place by silencing their feelings.

“The takeaway I was seeing was that there was not a unanimous sense of feeling about the pandemic. This feeling can also change, and sometimes that change can happen in a day.  You are having all these extremes that are not stagnant in nature.  People are on edge with themselves and one another. People are unsettled.

“There is a large sense of emotional instability that is slicing through the daily air we all are breathing. People are hypersensitive to their own situations and feeling extremely overwhelmed, but still excited to find some sort of normalcy in each situation. One thing I did know for certain is that I was here for the students.

“I know that now, more than I ever did before. I knew they needed me, and I needed them. Teaching is a field you go into because you want to connect with the kids. This was the first time in the pandemic we were able to do that in a new way. We are invested in the people we surround ourselves with every day.

“Though, at the same time, we feel the weight of what they are experiencing because we know that deep down, we are experiencing the same things no matter how many layers we put on to hide that.

“I had one student approach me who really wanted to do well in school, because it was one of the only things she had still to hold onto. Last year, she lost family members that felt like an unbearable burden to carry. School was her resiliency and place to grow into something new. School suddenly became much more than a building and place to learn.  It became a place of new identities and freedom of expression.

“Some of the kids are checked out, some of the kids are checked in, but what is clear is that we all have new needs, and we all are in this situation together. We can make the most of it when we first recognize that and then find common steps to stand on to move with it as it changes around us and to us.

“How can we work together to emerge stronger and better connected than ever? This is our new lesson and reason for being in person again. This is where we are at and where we can be brave enough to take the first step to get going.”

 

Allison Martin  Bosque Farms

 

Two seconds of freedom

Editor:

I think of the hundreds of millions of earthlings who suffered unspeakable deaths from ravages of smallpox, bubonic plague, yellow fever, polio, AIDS, and dozens of other viral killers. What would they have given for easy access to an effective prevention method?

And yet many of the most spoiled people who have ever lived on planet earth won’t touch the shot, hating the thought of losing some two seconds of their precious freedom.

One lady in Arizona offered to take up arms against any who would force her to be vaccinated. I would venture she has never publicly avowed to do the same for her freedom of speech, press, religion, or her right to live and work where she wants. Freedom from the needle is greater than all of them for her.

Life expectancy in the first decade of the 2000s astonishingly declined for three straight years due to the petulant desire of Americans to treat their bodies however they want. But in 2020, we saw an aggregate yearly decline of anywhere from 14 to 39 timses those earlier yearly drops, depending upon ethnicity, according to Virginia Commonwealth University.

Those two seconds of militantly asserted freedom by anti-civic Americans is costing their neighbors dearly.

 

Kimball Shinkoskey  Woods Cross, Utah

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