Teaching in a Pandemic: Help Teachers, Help You

Currently, I have twelve 9th graders failing and twelve 11th graders failing. I am still taking late work through tomorrow at midnight. I am taking ANY assignment, even from November. I have allowed them to redo any writing assignment as often as they would like for a higher grade. I have offered tutoring after school. I have given re-engagement activities. I have contacted parents.
I do not know what else I can do.
They do not do the assignments at home (which I have NEVER graded for accuracy, only completion and turned in on time.). Their failure to complete the AT-HOME LEARNING makes it difficult to reinforce skills needed for major assessments and formal papers, which leads to low grades on summative assessments. Even when we complete things in class, some still do not do the work and turn it in.
I am really trying.
I understand that we need to show patience and understanding with the kids because it is a different learning environment; however, we have been at this for over a semester. The “learning curve” should be settled by now. The reality is students and parents believe that the school system will not let them fail this year, so they have the mindset of why should I work when they are going to pass me anyway? And if this is true, fine, but what kind of precedent are we setting for them? They need to be held accountable because in “real life,” there is no turning things in late without penalty. Or turning paperwork in when you want. I know if I don’t turn in my paperwork, lesson plans, or grades on time, I would not be given “grace.”
Once in a while, I get it stuff happens, but the failing students are consistently not doing work. Could this be a left-over mindset from March? Maybe. Is this a different type of school year? Absolutely. Something has to be done. And it cannot be up to the teachers to carry this anymore.
Accountability has to be given to the parents and the student.
I know this is hard for parents because I am a parent myself. While I am struggling to help students, my son is home struggling with his assignments. I come home and help him. Because that is what I am supposed to do, it is not just the teacher’s job to make sure he is completing assignments. I am accountable for my own child. Then I prepare supper and sit at the table to grade and plan because I didn’t have a prep period because I had to sub for a class. Then I wake up and do it again.
Everyone seems to get some understanding, additional assistance, or patience, except the teachers. We are held to impossible standards, and we are given more and more, and we, well, at least, this teacher, is breaking. Then school board officials are coming to critique me for an evaluation? In the middle of a pandemic? I get told I have to clean desks between classes, change to another prep, and be in the hall at the same time? HOW? Please tell me. I have to call all my failing students and students who have missed more than three days in every one of my six classes? Then grade the piles of late work? Then lesson plan for three different classes? Then earn new technology to help “mediate” this “new normal.” Update my grade book daily. And cover classes on my prep because we don’t have enough subs? HOW? Tell me. Please.
My dear administration, school board, and society, I am broken. I need help. I need understanding. I need to be valued and appreciated, not critiqued while I am drowning. I already feel like I am failing on every level. This is not the year to… Click To Tweet
I need patience and understanding. Just like you want me to give to my own students. I need time. I need parents and students to be held accountable. I know it is a new time, and teachers have always risen to the occasion, but we cannot be everything to everyone every day. Could you help us? Then we can be better for you and your children. Overwhelming us with all these new expectations, overnight emails, and constant changes will not help anyone.  We need more support and understanding than ever before just as we give you and yours.

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