This is the part of the pandemic when we all sigh. . .
It's standardized test time. It's do we or don't we bring students back to in-person school time. It's tax time. It's do we send students to summer school time. It's do we give final exams time. It's how should we spend Rescue Act money time. But, to be perfectly honest, I have opinion fatigue. I'm doing a lot of sighing.
Sit tight. I don't mean what you might think I mean.
I'm not fatigued of YOUR opinion. I'm still listening and absorbing, taking notes, and advocating.
Nope. I'm fatigued of giving my own opinions.
Now, anyone who knows me will see the problem with this. I give opinions on EVERYTHING as it relates to education. I have all kinds of popular ones, and quite a few that ruffle feathers. If you want to see people squirm, tell them that homework is socially and economically biased, and should be eliminated. Or, mention that we should allow students to continue to work on skills WITHOUT PENALTY of a failing grade (ahem... that means unlimited retakes for FULL CREDIT).
I have plenty of opinions.
Yet, here I am. Opinion fatigued. Sighing.
I think what it comes down to is this: there are no easy answers right now, and it is not culturally or socially acceptable to have complicated opinions. Trauma shortens our attention spans, which were already slipping. And, yet, right now, ALL of my opinions are complicated, requiring rambling answers and too many examples and explanations.
For instance, take my stance on homework. I can't, because my students are hybrid and only attending in-person two days a week, eliminate homework. I want to, but there is no time to keep students moving in the right direction in the 84 total minutes I see them in person each week. So, I still don't believe in homework. I still think it should be eliminated. I feel like a hypocrite for giving homework, knowing full well that there is a percentage who will do well because of their privilege alone, another portion who will not do it at all, simply as a result of life circumstances that are not in their control. In a pandemic, is all work done at home, homework? (Yes, by the way) But, it's complicated.
Obviously, I still believe in retakes and scaffolded learning that truly is a safety net for those who take a little longer. Yet, here I am, trying to juggle this type of remediation while also moving students forward. How long can I spend on one skill--when time is so precious--without sacrificing another skill that I feel I have to teach too quickly in the first place?
Phew. And there it is. The moment in my opinion sharing when I just let out a huge sigh and shake my head.
It's complicated. All of it is.
And, it has exhausted me and fellow teachers everywhere. We are trying so hard to do what we are required to do--some of it against our own beliefs about how kiddos learn, while trying to keep the integrity of our classroom communities, and have patience with kiddos in trauma, as well as parents who are definitely at the sighing stage themselves.
As a parent, I hate school right now. My own children's teachers are trying their best right now, and it still isn't enough. Nothing is enough to be the panacea for a pandemic, an economic downturn, a society whose moral and ethical barometer seems to continually be out of balance. Nothing is enough to heal the isolation, the profound losses of so many coming of age activities. Teachers are doing their best, and it is not enough. How could it be? Teachers are trying so hard, as we always do, to bear the burdens of society, but this time it is more than we can do alone.
These are not ordinary times. This is not ordinary school.
So, in light of this, my opinions are complicated. I don't want to explain any more, nor do I want to try to sway others whose situations are equally complicated.
Instead, maybe let's just talk sometimes. Let's just listen to each other ramble on. Let's allow space for complicated answers, but don't always demand the full explanation.
Let's just agree that we are at the part in the pandemic when we are all sighing.
But, have you noticed after sighing that we have a moment of relief, or at least a change of state? We sometimes laugh. We sometimes cry. We sometimes just move on to whatever else is pulling at our attention.
Let's just agree that this is the part of the pandemic when it is ok to sigh. Ok? (sigh)