Kids aren't livestock - let's stop treating education like factory farming
I'm hearing about more surveys, ON TOP OF ALL "REMOTE-LEARNING" - and I get an instant, physical response to this approach: our students aren't cattle who are just needing to be moved through the stockyard to get food (or in this case, "learning").
We don't just "get services" to these young scholars - these are individuals just like us. We are helping to build the bedrock of society as educators - we are contributing to key periods of brain growth. As such, we must forge relationships with students, cultivate connections with families - not just once a year on a back-to-school night designed to talk at parents- but truly create a space where our communities can support each other through community events (like food festivals - yes, we should bring those back) & where parents can contribute in meaningful ways to their child's education. The most efficient way to know our students is to know their families- & the better we understand where they are coming from, the more effectively we can teach them.
There are no shortcuts to this work: it takes time. It takes having fewer students, more teachers. It implies that a teacher may stay with a student for more than one year - that this is a good thing. No shortcuts means the administration and the teachers may well need training in the summer in order to implement needed up-grades to our routines. No shortcuts means faculty meets for several days together prior to the start of school - not to be talked at, but in order to do get-to-know you activities. Such meaningful opportunities to bond may lead us to find our yearly personal goals or to simply share honestly with our colleagues. Only in this way, when we bond like a family unit, with all of our diversity, can we fully support a similarly nurturing, safe learning environment committed to excellence, for our students.
Smaller student to teacher ratios (COVID-19 demands it, now); longer planning periods for our own recovery & ability to bond as a faculty are a start. Then, we as teachers will find common purpose & may have the support we need to reach for excellence, beauty & achieving our goals in teaching. Let's make education truly inspiring once more. Let's quit the "survival mode" mindset & dedicate ourselves to establishing the kind of workplace we want for ourselves & the kind of learning environment we envision for students.
We are better than this. And while it sickens me (and every person who drives past it) to see animals kept in cramped quarters & fed in an impersonal, stockyard environment; it is ten times worse when I see my countrymen's children- MY STUDENTS - being herded through hallways in the same dehumanizing way.