Dear Colleagues,

We are now two months into the most challenging school year we’ve ever faced. My instinct is to use this occasion to share something positive and uplifting. Like the ode to October at the bottom of the page. Or maybe examples of all the amazing work I see teachers doing every day and how we’ve adapted to the challenges of the pandemic.  While it’s true that I observe teachers performing small miracles on a daily basis, I can’t help feeling like focusing on only that would miss something important about what we are going through. Any honest reflection on the last two months must also acknowledge how incredibly hard this is on teachers. Both experiences are the true. Both should be acknowledged.

Sure, in my 28 years of teaching this is the hardest one I’ve ever endured by far. But I feel good knowing I can still make a difference in my students’ lives, giving them a semblance of normalcy in a world turned upside down, and helping them to move forward academically. Yes, these first two months have come with unbelievable challenges, but I see teachers going to great lengths every day to support one another and I find that uplifting. In the face of an announcement recently that American Airlines and United Airlines plan to furlough as many as 32,000 workers, I remain grateful that I have not missed a paycheck.

Though I understand the value and importance of gratitude, I also worry that the incredible work ethic of our teaching core and the challenges of our current situation are driving people to unsustainable and unhealthy levels of stress and exhaustion*. It’s important that we not sugarcoat or ignore this fact. As Kate Roberts posted on twitter recently, “we need to honor and name how hard this is, and put all our focus into making this year sustainable.” So let’s continue to be quite clear about the immense burden we are shouldering and look for ways to help and support one another to lighten the load. Let’s remember that the incredibly high standards we normally hold ourselves to may need to be relaxed a little right now to safeguard our sanity. And let’s continue to work together in our buildings through our Building Representatives and our Teacher Interest Committees to create building level solutions to problems that are practical, sustainable and consistent with our contract. 

Speaking of the contract, I am excited to announce that after a lengthy negotiation we have a contract settlement with the district! More details to follow shortly.

*The STA offers an Employee Assistance Program to all of its members. Free, confidential counseling support--for you and your loved ones--is available 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-833-8707, CCA's toll-free helpline. On the web you can find them here.  Call Donna at the STA office (x5784) for the web access (company) code.

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