HEY! Parents…Leave Them Teachers Alone!

If you read the title of this blog as a Pink Floyd song, you did it right. Well done! If you’re wondering who Pink Floyd is, thank you for reading, youngster. To be honest, I’ve never seen the video until I went to YouTube today (below).

Image from Pink Floyd's music video "Another Brick in the Wall" showing students sitting at moving desks on an assembly line.

Courtesy: YouTube

I’ll admit I was only 3-4 years old when “Another Brick in the Wall” was released, but that also means “I wasn’t born yesterday.” I have noticed too many humans on this planet who are not only not supporting educators, but they’re actively bashing them on social media. That’s completely crazy to me (but also slightly entertaining.) Here’s why…THEY HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT!!! Was that loud enough? Are there educators taking it easy during remote learning? Yes. I am sure they are out there. Hello, McFly?!?! They have always have been out there! Remember that kid in 5th grade who failed to do their half of your group project and it ruined your life? Slackers are everywhere and some of them are adults now, if you can believe that, and some are even teaching. Here’s the thing, though: most teachers are fighting so hard to keep this train rolling along smoothly and it is not easy under normal conditions, let alone during a pandemic.

The backstory

A couple of months prior to this post, our new pet bird flew out of our house, after my daughter opened the front door with him nearby. I was in the middle of meeting with a student about her test results. I had to (begrudgingly) ask her to allow me to finish up with her at another time, which I did. I also had to ask my students the rest of the afternoon to complete their work asynchronously until further notice, which they did. Basically, I was AFK for one class that, earlier that day, expected to be synchronously learning. Why? My 6th grade daughter would have been absolutely broken if she was the one responsible for losing the bird, not to mention it was just weeks before Christmas. There are other things that exacerbate the reasons why I had to play hero dad that day, but those will remain my family’s personal business.

I missed the rest of the afternoon, but we found the bird and I took a “retro” sick day to make up for the lost time during damage control. Are there some teachers that might not take a retro sick day and try to get away with pulling a sudden async? Yeah, but not me. I came to find out that the announcement to my students about the async time that day went on FB (I refuse to use the whole word) and people started their word vomit. I was pleased to hear how many teachers/parents would have done the same thing I did that day, but many people were bothered . Would this have never happened if “teachers would just go back to school and do their jobs,” yes, but it would also have never happened if we weren’t teaching during a pandemic either. What would you have done? Leave a comment if you’d like.

Fast forward to a few days prior to this post. I spent time during my day OUTSIDE OF CLASS TIME to bowl with my son for his async PE time for 12-13 minutes in our hallway (below). I posted that as part of my experience that day on Twitter and, again, that post found its way to FB for people to bash teachers, even though they had NO EARTHLY CLUE of the context of the post (time period, length of time, etc.)…nothing.

So began a movement

I got on Twitter and created the hashtag #FaMATs (Facebook Moms Against Teachers) to show that I was not going to let a few bad apples (that probably didn’t fall far from the tree) be the louder voices. I have lots of friends who are educators. I consider many of my coworkers as friends. I have made friends on Twitter with educators across the country. Many of whom will not get involved in social media attacks. I will not let people attack me, (certainly not) my family, or my friends. It quickly became #FaPATs as to be more inclusive (P for parents), after getting a funny reply from a supportive parent. I even started mocking the suggestions of teachers being glorified lazy baby sitters. After the FB post about me bowling with my son, I went off and created THIS Google Slides presentation because they chose the wrong educator to bring into their drama. The presentation provides numerous examples of how much extra work I am doing to make remote learning the best for my students and many more because I share my work with other teachers. However, I maintain my rock star dad status (avoiding doing too much extra work while my offspring might need me) by waiting to continue my school work after they go to sleep.

I know, from my own experiences, that I am putting in more time beyond the extra time I normally put in to make the best experience for my students. My wife is doing the same for her 4th grade students. Teachers everywhere are doing more than the “normal more” to make sure their students are getting the best education possible every single day. Teacher life is a stressful one at times, but certainly more so during a pandemic. I’ve publicly challenged people to spend a week in my shoes at any time. I don’t expect anyone to take me up on it, but I am 100% serious. I don’t think many people could do it. Some of them wouldn’t last one day.

Healthcare workers have been among those who took their own lives during the COVID pandemic. Many of them were young, with children and a bright future. I’m not suggesting that healthcare workers and teachers are in the same boat, but our teaching is certainly more stressful during a pandemic and the public bashing of educators must stop, whether we are in a pandemic or not, if we are to avoid the same fate for educators. Unfortunately, I will not be surprised when I see a teacher taking their own life because of similar reasons. Educators are trying to build a brighter future and doing it during a pretty ugly time, in my opinion. We are trying to do everything we can to make an underfunded educational system work best for our students, your children. More stress on top of that is very much not appreciated.

The #FaPATs and #FaMATs hashtags will be discontinued. Instead, the spirit will live on in a more positive light: thanking those who support teachers and reminding everyone of the reasons they support us. Welcome, #PaSuTs (Parents Supporting Teachers), where I will be posting my love of teacher support and reminders/evidence for why so many parents support us. I, too, am a supporter. I am all about supporting my friends and building a brighter future, no matter how small my impact may be.

Thank you, to all those who are educator supporters, whether you are a student, a fellow educator, or you are a #PaSuTs. Please feel free to leave your support by commenting to this post for other educators to see.