Ari Christine: Teaching is a Woman: Why I Closed My Classroom Door
The “Why I Left Teaching” essay has become its own genre, but this recent post from the blog Ari Christine captures some of the heightened frustrations of the pandemic era. This is a frank, blunt take.
It wasn’t until the pandemic that I realized the true toxicity that envelopes education. Teaching is a woman. And who are women expected to be in our society?
She’s supposed to always be there to serve. She feels guilty when she needs a day off and always has so much to fix when she returns. She’s only celebrated for sacrificing. She isn’t appreciated until she leaves.
Think about all of those “feel good” educator stories that have come across your screen during the pandemic. The teacher was either grading papers from her hospital bed; dangerously passing out sack lunches during the virtual learning period; driving 90 minutes to teach at an inner-city school or spending countless non-paid hours to communicate with students attempting to learn from home.
While experts took to CNN to explain why in-person learning was necessary, and took every opportunity to share statistical data about forthcoming learning gaps – educators had no say so whatsoever. We had no control over our day-to-day work situation during a global pandemic.
My entire career was spent teaching high school students. Some of the absolute best students I had last school year never stepped foot on campus. I presented topics. I created videos explaining assignments. I typed everything I said in my videos and I gave them due dates. They managed. Many of them managed my work, the work of seven other teachers, a job, caring for younger siblings and more.
I will scream this from a mountaintop: virtual learning should ALWAYS be an option for high school students.
Again, the “experts” who have zero daily exchange with young people pressed the idea of socialization or the lack thereof. That was their argument – students need to be in person, so that they don’t miss out on interaction with other young people.
Where did that get us?
Schools are now open all across the country. Students are interacting with one another and with the many variants of Covid-19. Some of the same parents who screamed without ceasing that they couldn’t work and manage their own children in their own home are now blaming schools because their children are testing positive for the virus. Many of those same parents have yet to stop their children from traveling house to house, attending parties and participating in activities where they interact with others while maskless.
Here in Texas, we even have suburban stay-at-home moms arguing that wearing masks in school is somehow punishment for their first graders.