I am a high school mathematics teacher. I am a student of Interior Design. I am a wife and mother. I am learning to be open to new dreams.
Days Gone By
In third grade I had an amazing teacher that saw the best in me. She realized the struggles that I was going through and was the comforting shoulder I needed to cry on.
The students that she had were, by today's standards, perfect. The bad behavior we had was talking too much or chewing gum.
As I went to high school the behaviors were not incredibly worse. Students would give excuses as to why they didn't have their homework completed. Students would skip class occasionally to visit with their boyfriend or girlfriend.
Any fights we had were fist fights dealt with quickly and efficiently. The love triangles were handled with the occasional fistfight. Students would talk behind each other's back and start gossip.
When I Was In College To Become a Teacher
Being a teacher is what I had always dreamed of being. I had had many great examples of what a teacher could be and the impact that they could impress. My goals never wavered towards becoming a teacher.
While I was student teaching in a small Texas school, the news alert came across that there had been a mass school shooting. The shooting occurred at Columbine High School in Colorado. I was shaken. Here I was a soon to be certified teacher. The news was stating how students and teachers had been massacred. I was speechless.
All I had ever dreamed of being was becoming the equivalent of my 80s and 90s teachers. The small discipline issues aside, I would teach children to love mathematics and to better understand it. I never thought that violence or threats to the workplace would be an issue.
Becoming a Teacher
Becoming a teacher was still all I thought it would be. I dreamed of making a positive impact on students and teaching them to love, not dread, math. The Columbine shooting was in my memory, but I was making positive new memories as I taught and loved my students.
Shootings kept occurring in the news. There was the Florida one, the Sandy Hook, and so many more. I kept my head held high and trudged through. I saw my students as above the chaos.
I loved and love my students through the chaos of the news media. The media told us how bad the school dynamics were. My students were my kids. What could possibly go wrong?
The Post-Covid Era
I was teaching my Algebra 1 students in the fall of 2019. It was challenging teaching freshmen, as I had never taught them before. I learned to love them as I had my juniors and seniors of the years prior. They were slightly more immature, but they loved with their whole heart.
Right before spring break, I had one student ask, "Do you think we will come back after spring break due to this corona virus?". I told him, "Sure, it won't affect us!".
Little did I know that I would never see them in class again.
This was the end of an era of how teaching would be. Little did I know, teaching and education would never be the same.
I thought that the school shootings would change education. It didn't near as much as Covid did.
The Year is 2022
Post-Covid era is a nightmare when it comes to teaching. Students got used to the at home version of education. For high schoolers, education was simply skipping through videos and answering questions until you got them right.
The students could lazy around the house until the deadline, then guess their way through to a passing grade.
When we returned in 2020-2021, the students had built a routine. They did as little as possible to maintain a passing score.
The apathy and the laziness were compounded exponentially more than it ever had been before.
Today, I only hope to have a student turn a classwork assignment in. I dream of days gone by where the student sought the teacher's approval.
Today, students do the least amount of work as possible. Parents stand up for them and say, "They didn't learn that, due to COVID!"
Discipline is a whole other topic. Students who have been in isolation for six months to a year do not remember or care how to act with their peers.
Being back in the "real" high school has them reeling. They cannot remember what it was like to co-exist with peers. The fights are rampant! Drugs are the go to "solution". Teachers are the barrier to what they would rather be doing.
Teacher shortages require current teachers to make up the slack. Teachers have to cover (substitute) classes on their off periods or have larger class sizes. Teachers left the field in droves. This caused a massive shortage. A shortage that left students and teachers trying to make up for that loss.
One solution would be to raise pay for the teachers. With the current inflation, teacher salaries does not a middle class person make. The pay for what a teacher is obligated and expected to do is not equivalent to the pay that they receive. There is a reason so many teachers are leaving the field.
The second solution would be to provide more security at the schools. Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas proves that it is not just high schools that need protection. Metal detectors should be standard in any public school.
The third solution is to equip administration and teachers to be able to report "problem or concerning" student behavior. Too many times have I heard that, "Oh, I knew he had issues! I even reported it", after a mass shooting. The voices of teachers are not heard. They are discounted as a disgruntled teacher rather than seeing a student as a possible threat.
The Future Is In Your Hands
If the world views the teachers as the key to our future success, then why are they not compensated?
If education is key, treat it as such! If the future of our world depends on the next generation, treat the teachers as the super heroes that they are.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2022 April McMichael