The new school year is under way in a manner never experienced before. The usual student preparation of buying new outfits, new writing materials, even a new lunchbox was different because so few would appreciate the newness with so much else on their minds. Other school personnel had their own preparations to make.
Thank you teachers. Thank you school secretaries. Thank you school maintenance staff. Thank you all support staff. You are now our best hope in the one struggle we must not lose — the aspirations of our next generation. Our looming crisis of climate change will need their knowledge, their innovations and their courage. Our social disparities will only be resolved with their compassionate engagement in law and social services. We have praised, and deservedly so, the work of our health care workers and food producers. Now you are on the field and it is not an easy match you face.
You are charged with preparation of lessons for small groups, and then you must also prepare the same lesson in a different format for those students whose parents have kept them home. It really is twice the workload and it really will consume twice the hours of preparation and delivery and evaluation.
All the cartoons and jokes have made the rounds through our emails this past summer, and we have laughed at the observations that “Now parents will realize the teacher was not to blame” or that “It may take a whole village to raise a child but it will take a whole vineyard to homeschool one.” The reality is not so funny. After the hours of lesson preparation in multiple formats, after the marking, report-writing, record-keeping and consultation, you may turn to your own families, as deserving of your time as any of your charges. And you will bring the same optimism and dedication to all, for those are the values passed first to children before any more structured lesson content.
If you are other school staff members you now face a year requiring new challenges in your job, new requirements in hygiene and technology, and the learning curve has been short and steep for all of you. Your kindness, your calmness are the taken-for-granteds of your jobs. Now, take care of yourselves. We know how important a job you do.
Derek Peach (retired teacher)