I have been rattling my brain for the past few weeks trying to figure out why this year feels so much worse than the last couple of years combined. I have been asking myself, “Why have more teachers and administrators started the processes of finding new jobs?” And, “Why have I felt crushed by pressure when things are seemingly the same as every other year?” And that is when it hit me. It is because things are exactly the same. Or, rather, we are acting like things are the same. All of our schedules have moved full steam ahead without regard to the continued chaos around us. It is as if your house were on fire but you decided to keep watching Netflix on the corner of the couch that isn’t smoldering because that was your plan, and no one likes interrupted plans.
I think what makes matters worse is that no one in the higher echelons is even willing to call a goose a goose, let alone make meaningful change. They just keep saying, “I know it’s hard, thank you.” It isn’t that it’s hard, it’s that it is impossible. And because they aren’t willing to take things away, we are now sitting on that couch, watching Netflix, throwing wood on the fire.
What I don’t think our leadership understands, is that by not saying something, they are saying something. What hasn’t been said this year, what has been omitted is the idea that if something needs to be skipped due to time constraints or abilities, it should be skipped. Permission has not been given. Meetings and testing and conferences and extra crap has continued to progress without regard to the losses of time this year. The constant switches between online and in person, the shifting between some students who are ill or in quarantine, and the extra days taken out of the semesters all add up. Not one single teacher has the capacity to teach something 17 times. But that is what we end up having to do when half your class is gone, and some are sick at different points. Add to that the oversized classrooms, substitute shortages, staff and family illnesses, etc., and you end up with the aforementioned goat rodeo that is the 2021-22 school year.