School’s Out and So Am I … Some Thoughts

 

My school finishes officially on Thursday. This will be my last year; I gave notice in March that I would be leaving at the end of the school year. I leave with my professional relationships in a good place, which I think is always preferable.

It’s been a long year. Some of you might remember the post I wrote after the first day of school when I was overwhelmed by the demands of the new hybrid year. The prospect of nine months surrounded by those cables and machines was intimidating. It got better, as all things do in time, but it remained exhausting to teach remote and in-person students simultaneously. Students and their parents took advantage of the school’s generous remote option. A doctor’s appointment at 3 pm became an excuse not to come to school at all that day and to attend classes remotely, turning what might have been a pleasant and traditional “in-person” class into a dreadful experience with the Teams video (the student always had their camera off, protesting, “my computer is broken, it’ll be fixed soon”). Any exercise planned for in-person had to be scrapped in favor of something that could be done with the remote student. These changes were often discovered last minute, 5-10 minutes before class. Some students simply didn’t come to school at all, even if they hadn’t applied for the remote option; they were just remote every day without an excuse because they “didn’t feel well.” Other students were discovered to be working in public-facing jobs after school at retail stores even though they had applied to be remote students for the year, which made teachers incredulous (to say the least). They went to great lengths to prepare their virtual lessons using new technology they had adopted this year to accommodate the remote students and yet from 3:30 pm, those remote students were working the cash register at The Gap in busy suburban malls, surrounded by people. The administration took note of low teacher morale and tried to take a stand in the 4th quarter but by then it was a bit late.

Departures mean different things to different people. I look forward to leaving for many reasons. Chicago is getting messier by the week, and I’ll be glad to be closer to my family. I do find myself thinking a little regretfully about one student in particular who has fewer coping skills than the others (who will adjust more easily). She’s a very kind and sweet person, a little immature, a bit socially awkward, and it’s amplified by the fact that she’s very conservative in an environment where liberalism is trendy. She suffered a small blow when her friends dropped her (teenage girls can be extremely unkind. So many of the girls now talk seriously about mental health awareness, the friends they know who have attempted/committed suicide, and yet they can behave with such callousness to others), she used my room as a refuge; for studying, eating lunch there until she got the courage up to go back to the cafeteria and sit with new people. It is a common refrain from other teachers and admin that her conservatism might get in the way of her making friends, so she should be less political. Of course, they neglect to consider the content of the conversations of the liberal students, which are very highly charged. The student isn’t close to other teachers and I wonder who she will go to when she needs to talk next year. I hope she finds someone who will give her good advice, because it means so much when you’re young. She wrote me a kind thank you note and said she was happy for me but said she was sad about my leaving. In this particular case, so am I. I wish her well.

Anyway…here’s to the end of some things, and also the beginning of others.

Published in Education
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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    My camera is disabled. There seems to be a square of electrical tape fastened over the lens.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Good luck, Giulietta, whatever comes next.

    • #2
  3. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    If there is one where you are going, Hillsdale College Classical Charter Schools are in need of teachers.  To find one, go to the Hillsdale Web site (Hillsdale.edu) and click on Barney Charter School Initiative, which should have a list of existing and planned schools.  Maybe you can get in on the ground floor of a growing initiative, and get complete satisfaction from teaching.  I wish you the very best of luck!

    • #3
  4. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Percival (View Comment):

    My camera is disabled. There seems to be a square of electrical tape fastened over the lens.

    My old laptop had that same problem. One of my VFW solicitations– mail return labels with my name and address nicely printed inside a picture of our flag– somehow always got stuck directly over the little camera. My new laptop doesn’t have that problem. I wonder if it’s because of that equally little camera kill switch on the side of the machine? 

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I remember your original post. Gosh, it seemed just awful. I’m glad things got a little better, and it must be a great relief to be moving on. Good luck, and don’t be a stranger here!

    • #5
  6. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I’m not a teacher and I no longer have children in school, but I have friends and relatives with school-age children and I do a lot of remedial tutoring for their kids. So I’ve seen first-hand the disruption caused by the Chinabug debacle.

    We know that teachers’ unions have been opposed to resuming in-class instruction. Many of us think that’s irresponsible, and don’t understand why the unions have taken that position. What I particularly wonder is what the teachers think about that. Can you offer an insights? Are teachers aware of the positions taken by the unions? Are they generally supportive of those positions, in your experience? Do many disagree? Does anyone speak up in criticism? 

    Best wishes to you in whatever new endeavors you pursue.

    • #6
  7. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’m not a teacher and I no longer have children in school, but I have friends and relatives with school-age children and I do a lot of remedial tutoring for their kids. So I’ve seen first-hand the disruption caused by the Chinabug debacle.

    We know that teachers’ unions have been opposed to resuming in-class instruction. Many of us think that’s irresponsible, and don’t understand why the unions have taken that position. What I particularly wonder is what the teachers think about that. Can you offer an insights? Are teachers aware of the positions taken by the unions? Are they generally supportive of those positions, in your experience? Do many disagree? Does anyone speak up in criticism?

    Best wishes to you in whatever new endeavors you pursue.

    Teacher unions are illegal here, and masks were very unpopular.  Yet when we surveyed parents and staff when the state mask mandate was lifted (in March)  60 percent of parents wanted students unmasked (less than expected), and 60 percent of staff (more than I expected) wanted to keep them.  Surveys weren’t mandatory so there was some self selection going on, but it was still surprising.   Masks were optional at graduation this past Friday and I didn’t see a single one.  We will start school again in August without masks. Our in person attendance rate stayed at 89 percent the entire year.

    • #7
  8. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’m not a teacher and I no longer have children in school, but I have friends and relatives with school-age children and I do a lot of remedial tutoring for their kids. So I’ve seen first-hand the disruption caused by the Chinabug debacle.

    We know that teachers’ unions have been opposed to resuming in-class instruction. Many of us think that’s irresponsible, and don’t understand why the unions have taken that position. What I particularly wonder is what the teachers think about that. Can you offer an insights? Are teachers aware of the positions taken by the unions? Are they generally supportive of those positions, in your experience? Do many disagree? Does anyone speak up in criticism?

    Best wishes to you in whatever new endeavors you pursue.

    Teacher unions are illegal here, and masks were very unpopular. Yet when we surveyed parents and staff when the state mask mandate was lifted (in March) 60 percent of parents wanted students unmasked (less than expected), and 60 percent of staff (more than I expected) wanted to keep them. Surveys weren’t mandatory so there was some self selection going on, but it was still surprising. Masks were optional at graduation this past Friday and I didn’t see a single one. We will start school again in August without masks. Our in person attendance rate stayed at 89 percent the entire year.

    Texas is the best state. Full stop. 

    • #8
  9. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    If there is one where you are going, Hillsdale College Classical Charter Schools are in need of teachers. To find one, go to the Hillsdale Web site (Hillsdale.edu) and click on Barney Charter School Initiative, which should have a list of existing and planned schools. Maybe you can get in on the ground floor of a growing initiative, and get complete satisfaction from teaching. I wish you the very best of luck!

    Interviews continue for other jobs…we will see! Thanks for the tip:)

    • #9
  10. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Percival (View Comment):

    Good luck, Giulietta, whatever comes next.

    Thank you! I don’t really like change so I feel moderately apprehensive but then I’m also glad to look ahead. It was time. 

    • #10
  11. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I remember your original post. Gosh, it seemed just awful. I’m glad things got a little better, and it must be a great relief to be moving on. Good luck, and don’t be a stranger here!

    Thank you for the kind words Susan. I’ll still be around here, no worries!

    • #11
  12. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’m not a teacher and I no longer have children in school, but I have friends and relatives with school-age children and I do a lot of remedial tutoring for their kids. So I’ve seen first-hand the disruption caused by the Chinabug debacle.

    We know that teachers’ unions have been opposed to resuming in-class instruction. Many of us think that’s irresponsible, and don’t understand why the unions have taken that position. What I particularly wonder is what the teachers think about that. Can you offer an insights? Are teachers aware of the positions taken by the unions? Are they generally supportive of those positions, in your experience? Do many disagree? Does anyone speak up in criticism?

    Best wishes to you in whatever new endeavors you pursue.

    One of my colleagues from public school told me privately back in March-April he thought the union was being heavy-handed and asking for too much, but CPS had a history of not following through on their promises so it was good that the union was holding their feet to the fire. When I told him I’d been in-person teaching since August, he was impressed but startled when I said that the kids were glad to be in school and disappointed the few times when we went remote.

    The teachers at school were very aware other teachers crusading for remote education. We had many rules to deal with Covid so teachers who were more cautious seemed pacified. In November when the infection rate was rising and the school had declared that if the rate rose past 4%, we would switch to remote from in-person. However when that point came and no one was sick, admin conferred and announced at a faculty meeting that we would stay in school despite the positivity rate. Several people were irate, claimed to have been radically misled or at worst, lied to and comparisons to CPS and other remote schools were made. The meeting about spring break was equally contentious. The select teachers wanted a quarantine period before returning. To not do so would jeopardize everyone’s health, apparently. It did not happen.

    In so far as criticizing the school in meetings, beyond the ones mentioned, not really. It was accepted that the school was in an impossible situation: parents threatened to withdraw students if there was no remote option, others threatened to withdraw them if there was no in-person option or for any lag in offering either. The parents have been shameful here- making excuses (lying) for their children who just wanted to stay home, berating the very kind receptionist who had to investigate attendance. Why the school didn’t insist on bringing back all remote students who were discovered working after school was a mistake, I think. A certain moral authority was lost.

    I hope this helps a little-

    • #12
  13. Giulietta Coolidge
    Giulietta
    @giuliettachicago

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’m not a teacher and I no longer have children in school, but I have friends and relatives with school-age children and I do a lot of remedial tutoring for their kids. So I’ve seen first-hand the disruption caused by the Chinabug debacle.

    We know that teachers’ unions have been opposed to resuming in-class instruction. Many of us think that’s irresponsible, and don’t understand why the unions have taken that position. What I particularly wonder is what the teachers think about that. Can you offer an insights? Are teachers aware of the positions taken by the unions? Are they generally supportive of those positions, in your experience? Do many disagree? Does anyone speak up in criticism?

    Best wishes to you in whatever new endeavors you pursue.

    Teacher unions are illegal here, and masks were very unpopular. Yet when we surveyed parents and staff when the state mask mandate was lifted (in March) 60 percent of parents wanted students unmasked (less than expected), and 60 percent of staff (more than I expected) wanted to keep them. Surveys weren’t mandatory so there was some self selection going on, but it was still surprising. Masks were optional at graduation this past Friday and I didn’t see a single one. We will start school again in August without masks. Our in person attendance rate stayed at 89 percent the entire year.

    That’s a very interesting story that the staff wanted to keep the masks and parents wanted them off. I’d have thought the numbers would be more similar because I would have thought that parents and staff would come from the same pool but apparently not. At all the schools I’ve worked at, the teachers have been extremely liberal while the parents have varied much more in their affiliations. I think we will hear more about this clash as CRT talk amps up.

    • #13