Since Pandemic I Have Not Seized Teaching — 6 Things I Have Missed This Year
Amizur Nachshoni was born in Israel and lived in the US for many years.
My name is Amizur Nachshoni and I’m a primary and secondary school teacher, a general education teacher, and have been in education for more than a few years. I ran classrooms with children ranging in age from 2 1/2 to 10 years old at the time. I helped children and families cope with the diagnosis of ADHD, autism, and anxiety. For families struggling with poverty and homelessness, I’ve helped locate community resources or purchased them myself.
I’ve taught kids to be content with sitting through lockdowns in a dark corner that I personally wasn’t sure was true or not. I, like many around the world, left in March 2020 for spring break and never returned to my classroom that school year.
In the year of COVID, this is what the teachers (and your children) missed.
We now have children going straight into the classroom upon arrival at kindergarten, 30 minutes earlier than they used to, in order to safely transition kids in and out. At the end of the day, arranging parent pick-up often takes an extra 15 minutes. That’s 45 minutes of time gone from my former schedule per day. In addition, we have had several teachers go into quarantine and can not get a replacement, so we keep our children for that period rather than taking them to specials such as PE and music. This has happened so many times this year that we have lost almost a quarter of our plan time.. In addition, we now have to return to school 15 minutes before our contract time on days when we have meetings, because of the earlier student arrival time in the mornings. At least one or three times a week, I have these early morning meetings. At the moment, it sounds like small potatoes, but it adds up to 45 minutes a week.
Presence of mind
It seems like we are living in three worlds at once in order to cope with all of the potential implications from COVID. I have developed a series of emergency sub plans for “plug and play” covering two weeks should I have to go into quarantine, but my kids do not have to go into quarantine (like if one of my own children tests positive for COVID). I have a range of plans to hand over to specific children who are going into quarantine, in addition to getting our Google Classroom updated as needed. After each person quarantine, I update these plans. I still have another collection of plans that I amend quarterly, so we’re ready to go in case the whole class has to go into quarantine (this has happened once, when I got COVID). I feel like I don’t even live at the moment because I have to constantly worry about the “what ifs” of the future and/or catch up with lost opportunities from the past.
Since my school district offered an online alternative, but didn’t set specific guidelines for when children could return to school, since the beginning of the school year, we have had a trickle in effect. Since the start of the school year, I’ve moved from 16 to 26 kids. The classroom group has to readjust every time we get a new kiddo, and I have to get a handle on where that child is academically. We never know when we could get socked into a quarantine in addition to individual kiddos coming into the classroom. In our schools, this has utterly destroyed all sense of routine and normalcy.
Community and collaboration
Precautions from COVID have turned us all into islands, both teachers and students. Our classroom environment and how we teach has changed fully in a school where teamwork is kept as an ultimate aim for our students, not being able to come within three feet of each other and share any materials. We have also adjusted our school schedule entirely so that no classes in shared spaces overlap. But there’s never a chance to chat outside of my own grade level with my colleagues. We’ve shared ideas and relied on each other for help for years, particularly with kiddos who struggle, but from the year before may have developed a relationship with their teacher. This will not happen now, because all actions are either treated in the classroom or submitted to the principal immediately. This is not what is best for anyone, and I never felt lonely anymore.
My salary has decreased by around $200 a month in a year where I’m doing more work than I’ve ever done with less funding than I ever have. Education revenue has decreased due to significant financial problems created by the pandemic. I work in a school district with a low wage. This year we were not given raises. A $1000 annual stipend that we earn outside of our contract hours for doing extra professional development work has been suspended. Because of the burden of additional demands, our health insurance premiums have increased by $175 per pay period. My budget for classes was also cut in half. For the children who were easily lost, what I got for a budget was spent almost exclusively on mask lanyards. This year, I’m making less money than last year, but to make it COVID-safe, I have to put more in my classroom than I have in years.
Faith in Humanity
Social media sing the praises of teachers in March 2020, call us saints, and marvel at how we do it all. Come August, when educators dared to challenge the protection of sharing small, unventilated spaces with tiny people who were notoriously unhygienic “(How many professions outside teachers and health workers accept that at some point in a day they will get someone else’s body fluids on them? ) We became lazy freeloaders searching for a paycheck without “doing any job. Everyone has a performance analysis of how the teacher of their child dealt with being an internet teacher overnight and posted it on social media. Everyone is of the view that teachers are “overreacting” or “not cautious enough” about how often children should or should not wear masks.
There is no gray area in anyone’s opinions, no limit to the vitriol that will be spewed. There is no winning and teachers are buckling under the strain. And the real losers are the kids.
This article is brought to you by the author Amizur Nachshoni