Phrases I am fed up of seeing

Phrases I am fed up of seeing from armchair pundits who haven’t spent time in schools during the pandemic:

Teachers are lazy and don’t want to work

This really does show a lack of understanding of how much work goes into remote teaching, whilst also teaching keyworker and vulnerable students. It is much harder than teaching a class in front of us. But, this remains a favourite of the armchair pundits and they don’t see how much work it takes, so will never change their mind.

Teachers just want to stay at home

Well… a) we won’t be at home. I’ll still have to use public transport every day and sit in a cold ventilated classroom to teach children online, so…and b) ask any teacher with small children how easy it is to teach online whilst looking after your own children. It’s like doing a triathlon every day.

Teachers don’t care about children.

If I didn’t care would there be any point in doing this job, remotely or not? Why would I bother going through all the stress and abuse I get for being a teacher. And I certainly wouldn’t bother answering the random questions from students who email over the holiday, mostly because they clearly just want a chat with a friendly face…and yet I do. I don’t do it for the lack of respect from the media, I do it because I care about young people, and it really bothers me that actually in all of this, people are shouting on what they say is their behalf, but don’t actually talk to them about how they feel. Try it – you might be surprised.

Teachers don’t care about parents and their jobs

We really do. We want this pandemic under control so no more parents need to lose their jobs. We care that many have already, which is why lots of school staff delivered food packages over the holidays, because we care about our communities and the difficulties that they face. We care that a virus has affected our communities in horrendous ways. We care that we teach children who have lost relatives. I rang a parent a few weeks ago whose child had been isolating because the parent tested positive. I asked how they were feeling, and they said I was the only person who had asked them that question and actually they had been really unwell and hadn’t talked to anyone for ages. It does matter and we do care, which is why we want to stop the virus affecting more lives, we can see that it needs to be controlled and quickly. Enough of the muddling along and just hoping.

The schools have been closed

Really, I can’t believe people don’t get this. The schools were never closed. If we weren’t in school with keyworker and vulnerable students (which in some schools is quite a lot of students), we were teaching remotely. Like many, many other professions we are all still doing our job, just in a different form. And I don’t know one teacher who wants to have to do it like this for longer than we absolutely have to, because it isn’t easy at all.

Why are teachers moaning? It’s worse in shops and supermarkets.

Shops and supermarkets have legal limits on the amount of people allowed in at any one time and people move around, not sit in front of you for an hour at a time – a contact is classed as 15 minutes face to face. 30 students in a classroom (by the way, it’s nothing like the images that the media roll out for articles) is what the majority of classrooms are like. The only thing we can do is ventilate by opening windows, which in mid winter is not pleasant in the slightest for anyone. If anyone feels unsafe at work, supermarket, shop, whatever, then they should shout about it. I have spent as long working in retail in my life, as I have teaching, and my daughter currently works in retail. Every keyworker gets my respect for the work they are doing and everyone should feel as safe as possible.

Children aren’t as affected.

No, they don’t seem to be as severely affected. Some do get pretty ill though, which is why cases have been picked up. They are ill and get tested. However, to argue that that makes it all alright is completely missing the point about how infections spread. A child may bring it home, they might infect a parent, an elderly relative that lives with them. They might have unknowingly passed it on to 5 other classmates who go home and do the same. Of course testing will help, and no one has any real problem with testing, we know that it might help and we want anything that will. But those who are shouting that ‘kids are alright’ need to think about how a child might feel thinking they have passed something to a relative. Imagine the effect on the mental health on those who have lost people close to them and believe you, me it really does happen.

But also do the adults in a school really not matter? Are people honestly saying that they really don’t care about school staff who become seriously ill or die (and yes there are many documented teacher deaths). I don’t actually think people are that heartless, but honestly, I really just don’t know anymore.

I was one of those people who just thought we probably just needed to get on with it, but now that I have seen how ill it makes people, when I see the long-term effects, when I have talked to young people and parents, my mind has been changed. We need to stop it. Don’t be angry at teachers and the school leaders who, in particular, have been utterly amazing throughout all of this, blame those who have played roulette with schools, not those who are trying to protect and do the best for their communities. And honestly, if you think it is an easy job, please do come and train and join us. We are desperate for teachers (I notice the adverts have come back out again) and you would be welcomed with socially-distanced open arms. Just take a step out of that armchair.

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