Hey Teachers, Please Slow Down

Hey Teachers, Please Slow Down March 25, 2020

Hey teachers, first of all thank you so much. You have the most unappreciated job in the history of the world. You are the reason that our civilization survives. And most of you still get paid in the thirty thousands annually which is completed outrageous.

I was a teacher. I know the pressure that you’re under or at least the pressure that I felt. I remember the way that my heart would stop every time I saw the assistant principal peer into my classroom with his clipboard. I was an English teacher and it seemed like most of our administrators had physical education backgrounds. So their understanding of good classroom management was order and uniformity. But an English class in which everyone is writing quietly and facing straightforward is one in which little actual learning is probably taking place. English classes should be loud and wild places where students are banging a beat on their desks and freestyle rapping to it in iambic pentameter.

Except we can’t do that right now. Everyone is at home. We can’t have the same kinds of discussions and intimate mentorship that makes a learning environment beautiful. The only way to do schoolwork in this environment is what we refer to in our household as worksheet hell. And because teachers need to prove to their assistant principal supervisors that they are still vigorously earning their paycheck, the worksheets multiple exponentially in proportion to the anxiety at the core of the entire educational system.

Could we maybe cancel standardized testing this year? Has that been done already? Because how are you going to ensure that there’s no cheating if nobody can gather in the same room together. Follow up question: if there are no standardized tests this year, then why are we getting fifty worksheets a day? Because you understand that every worksheet assigned in our present context will be a collaboration between student and parent. My youngest son has asked me 12 different questions since I started this blog post. If he had his way, I would stand at attention next to him the entire time he is doing his work and he considers it rude of me to be multitasking.

Guess what? We parents have to multitask. We have full-time jobs we are trying to do from home at the same time that we’re trying to figure out the logistics of surviving an apocalypse. Admittedly, my wife is having a worse time with this because as much as I want to be a good feminist, I still default to patriarchal social norms when it comes to the degree that I’m willing to bear the weight of my children’s academic success. I just want to throw around a basketball with them and let them decide whether and how to do their schoolwork on their own. But my wife has been suffocating under the weight of worksheet hell.

So there are two things that need to happen. I need to step up and be a better parent so that my wife doesn’t have an aneurysm in the next two weeks. And y’all teachers need to chill out and dial back the number of assignments to about 20% of their current volume. Please slow down or else you’re going to be responsible for a lot of parents keeling over and dying under the weight of the school system’s exhausting hypervigilance.


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