When I first heard that classes were returning to school buildings, that teachers and students would be in the same room, I only imagined a first-day-of-school type of return. I thought about the jitters the night before school. I thought about preparing a classroom with the usual name tags and bulletin boards, and now maybe some added dividers. In all of my imagining, I did not once think about state and national exams.
Eventually, I did begin to think about the reality of making a schedule that fit social distancing, hybrid, and those that chose to remain remote. I did begin to think about the mechanics of needing 30-40 days to develop a routine, when some of us have barely 60 days left in the school year.
We’ve had a national teacher shortage for as long as I can remember; we have approached crisis levels of need in some parts of the country and in certain specialized areas. Given the past 18 months, I do have to wonder what a return this late in the year will do, and what it will mean to come back as though nothing has changed (ref: exams), or what it will mean if we expect everyone to keep up with every new schedule and demand (teacher v. parent v. state v. federal v. district).
I have a number of friends readying papers for a leave of absence next school year, and I have read that plenty of teachers have already left or plan to leave–permanently.
I don’t know where we’re headed in the education sector, and I don’t know if there’s a single better solution, nationally, but I do know that if don’t end up with greater respect, and compensation, at the end of all of this, our teacher shortage will be dire.