November 3, 2021

Jena Benton: It’s time to talk about what’s going on in school

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Jena Benton is a writer, artist and teacher. Here she offers her own classroom perspective on this year.

I’ve been exhausted and haven’t had the words to explain what’s been going on with this school year.  BUT I think it’s time I talk about it.  If you want to know what’s happening with teachers (especially in my school district), read on.  If not, skip this blog and read the rest of my content as you like.

I think everyone already knows that this school year isn’t much better than last year.  I think I was desperately hoping it would be better, but … in some ways it’s worse.  I’m not going to sugar coat anything here.  I’m going to try and lay it all out.  Though please note that I’m not angry like last year.  To be honest, I’m too tired to be angry.  Teachers everywhere are putting a brave face on it, but the levels of stress are through the roof.  I read this article and was blown away by how many other teachers (as well as myself) I recognized.

Last year was a pandemic school year.  Teachers had to flex to teach online and then in person (or worse yet, do both simultaneously).  We had constant change and stress, not to mention fear of getting sick.  Some teachers did get sick and their lives changed forever.  Some died.  But it was made clear that very few people cared.  There needed to be child care (in whatever shape that took) so people could get back to work.  I say this with a hint of bitterness, but … it felt like no one cared.  SO a lot of teachers quit, either during the school year or they retired when that year was over.  Some because of health concerns, others because they were pushed to the limit with an unbearable workload.  I suppose those were the smart ones.

Now there is a shortage of workers in schools (NOT just teachers) in every position from janitors, to TAs, to school nurses, etc.  Everyone at every level wanted out because they were tired of it all.  My hubby (who is also a teacher) and myself helped to interview over the summer for teaching jobs that couldn’t get filled.  We saw vacancies across the district and we feared what this school year would entail.  We knew there’d be a staff shortage, that we would have to work with skeleton crews, but we had no idea what we were in for.

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