any, many years ago, I spent the majority of my Friday nights at my cousin’s house. It was the only thing on my calendar for the week. Granted, I was only eight. But I looked forward to it every weekend. My cousin and I ruled the Northeast neighborhood he lived in as we would saunter to the grocery store and set high scores on Galaga. Then we’d head over to the burger joint and drain them of french fries and set more high scores on their Ms. Pac Man.
When we got back to the house, my Aunt Mary would usually be grading papers. Late into a Friday she’d be doing it with her red pen. Sometimes, we’d break out the coloring books and markers around her as she graded worksheets.
My aunt was a teacher and educator for the majority of her life. Only recently retired, and semi-retired at that, she spent decades in the classroom and then as a principal and teacher of teachers. This is a big week for teachers as they begin to welcome back their students – most of which will be in person – after nearly two years of disruption to their educational flow.
Teachers, arguably, have been some of the most impacted people during this pandemic. Sure, you’ve got doctors and clinicians at the top of the list – but teachers likely run a close second. At the drop of a hat, they had to completely change their lesson plans, translate them into a virtual medium, and then figure out a way to balance their own lives during a lockdown to boot.
I asked on social media last week how teachers were doing and what I got in return was both maddening and inspiring.
This past week, on Twitter, I started hearing stories of these teachers getting ready for their school years. Many classrooms simply stood empty for 18+ months. Some had cobwebs that needed to be cleaned out. Some had damage from floods or vandalism. Nearly all the teachers I heard from didn’t have everything they needed to get their classrooms fully up and running. For some, it was a couple of books or just some extra pencils. For many, it was a large gap of resources that their schools or districts couldn’t provide.
Amazon shopping lists started to be tweeted around the Internet. Dozens of people pitched in buying books, glue sticks, staplers, colored pencils, and even larger items like whiteboards and easels. And the lists came from down the street and as far as Alaska and Maine.
There are certainly questions to be asked by smarter people than me. Why aren’t these school districts providing for our teachers? Are teachers asking for more than they need to teach? Is it possible that we’ve asked too much from our teachers by having to build both a virtual classroom and a physical one? What happens to all that money they spend at the Red-X on Missouri Lottery tickets that are supposed to go to “education?”
I don’t have answers for any of them. But I can tell you that, with my Aunt Mary in mind, I tried to hit as many of those Amazon lists as I could – and any time there were red pens on the list, I made sure to buy them for the teacher. Whether it’s in cyberspace, a classroom, or a kitchen table – teachers need those red pens.
If you’d like to help teachers get their year started off right, please contact your local school to see if they are accepting donations. You can also go to teacherwishlist.com for more lists around the area. Thank you, teachers, and coaches, and school facility folks and administrators for everything you’ve done this past 18 years, and have a GREAT school year.
(Get acts of kindness and more from Chris Kamler on Twitter, where you can find him as @TheFakeNed)