Remember that time that schools were shut down because of a pandemic, and all the teachers said, "Yippee! Extra vacation! I am out of here" and all jumped in their Porches and drove to their beach homes?
Yeah, neither do I.
Here's what I'll remember. Teacher after teacher, from the ones in my Twitter feeds to the ones in my email to the ones that I know personally, sharing how miserable and worried they are, how they can't sleep for worrying about their students. Teacher after teacher frustrated about a lack of clear direction and leadership-- can we work? how can we work? what resources are we going to be given, or do we just have to hunt down the right tech ourselves?
The scrambling was everywhere, with some teachers expected to convert to some sort of crisis schooling model in twenty-four hours. The varied and bizarre obstacles (like these teachers who work where wi-fi and cellphones are illegal).
Plus the pitching in. A thousand little stories, like the teachers who helped out medical workers with 3D printers.Yesterday my wife went in to school to take her turn handing through car windows to families of students who depend on the school for that kind of support.
There are so many things many teachers still don't know. How will all this be counted? How will students be determined as passing or failing? Has anybody figured out how we're going to take care of those students with exceptionally special needs? Will school open again, and if so, for how long? Contractually, what is going to count as a day of work, and does anybody have the faintest idea of how we'll decide if teachers have fulfilled contractual obligations to the district?
These are not small questions, and yet I've not heard tales of teachers who have sat down stubbornly refusing to lift a finger until they get some answers.
Teachers have done what medical personnel and blue collar workers and a large number of people have done-- they've simply rushed forward to fill the needs they see as best they can.
Know what else I remember?
I remember when a bunch of non-educators started making noises about how we needed to remake the entire education system and drastically overhaul the accountability system because clearly the only way to motivate teachers to do the work was to threaten them with financial punishment or offer financial reward.
I don't want to hear from these people any more. I don't want to hear any more baloney about the already-disproven notion that human beings are motivated strictly by economic incentives. I don't want to hear any more about the only way to whip those damned teachers into shape is to find ways to hold their paychecks hostage. I don't want to hear any more about how the unions exist to protect millions of fat, lazy slackers who thought teaching would be an easy way to live high on the government hog.
Teachers do the work because they want to do the work, because they even feel born to do the work, and will keep trying to do the work even when unprecedented obstacles are thrown in their way. If you think the only reason anyone ever does anything is to get paid, then I am sad for you. But keep your sad hands off education policy. When this storm has passed, sit down, shut up, and let the teachers work.