• Cara Parker

This Isn't a Vacation For Teachers

The same people who say that teachers work part time, make too much money, and get summers off are now saying that this shutdown is a "vacation" for teachers.


So, I know that I am falling on deaf ears when I say this, but I'll say it anyway.


This isn't a vacation for teachers.


If this was a vacation, I would have my autoreply set on my email. I would have happily waved goodbye and said, "See you in a week" to those 21 faces that become my family every year. I would have left all my books at school. I would be off somewhere exploring the country, going out to eat, and taking photos of the amazing places that we visit. I'd be sitting by a pool with an umbrella drink, chatting with strangers, and going to the grocery store to pick up more snacks.


But this isn't a vacation.


Instead, I didn't get to say goodbye. They walked out the door, and we haven't come back. I quickly grabbed a bunch of school materials that are scattered around my small house, taking up space and constantly reminding me that I am not there. I can't travel to a warmer climate. I can't go out to eat. I can't talk to strangers. And going to the grocery store is terrifying, because I am afraid.


If this was a vacation, I wouldn't be working. But I am. The difference is that we are not at school, so people assume that teachers are just lying around, watching Netflix, and dancing joyfully through the house.


In the last week, since school let out, I have easily spent 60-70 hours working on school. I helped my administration to create enrichment activities for students. I learned how to use google classroom. I learned how to use flipgrid. I competed my conflict of interest and cyber security training. I have created documents for my students to help them pass their time in a way that will continue to benefit them. I have created a schedule for students who are craving structure. I have posted discussion questions and have shared activities as things have come up. I have answered questions, interacted with students, and have helped them to understand what the expectations are. I have commented on a student's emotional journal and have answered emails from concerned parents at 10 pm. I have been part of countless discussions among teachers to learn ways to continue education in a model that none of us have been trained to do.


In our district's facebook group, teachers have been offering tutorials. Teachers have been sharing ideas. Teachers have been asking questions and helping each other. We are not on vacation. The work looks different, but we are still working.


And teachers have been worried.


We are worried for the students who need the routine structure of a school day. We are worried about the kids who crave learning and whose passion is school. We worry about the kids whose parents are stressed and overworked. We worry about the students who have worked so hard this year to gain skills. And we worry about those who rely on school for a safe, warm place to get a meal.


Teachers are used to constant change. An idea pops into someone's head, and with minimal training and resources, we make it happen. Whatever the expectations are for the next few weeks, we will make it happen. Because that's what we do.


But please don't call this a vacation.