“That’s not fair!” is a complaint that teachers are accustomed to hearing from younger students.
Today, during the pandemic, those same teachers have had to face the fact that they themselves are voicing that same complaint. This is simply a time when teachers are not being treated fairly by the institutions where they work. And interestingly, there seem to be more complaints of unfair treatment in schools where some students have physically returned to their classrooms.
What Do We Mean by Unfairness?
In recent conversations with teachers and school administrators, we have heard complaints like these about unfair treatment:
“I am among the younger teachers on our school`s faculty,” one young male teacher told us, “so I am the only one who is expected to physically be in the classroom, while older faculty members are working from their homes. I have two younger kids at home – why am I expected to expose them to any possible infections I might bring home with me?”
“I deal with a growing number of complaints from faculty members every week,” a private school administrator told us. “Teachers who have to work from home are not happy. Other teachers who are required to teach students in classrooms are not happy. Teachers who teach some students virtually, and others not, are not happy. Parents are not happy either, and neither are the people who run our school. Does anybody ask me if I am happy? No, nobody does!”
“Teachers were not asked to formulate the required procedures that our school drafted,” says a teacher who is waiting for her eighth-grade class to return physically to class. “It would have been nice if we had been asked to offer our opinions when that document was created. But no, we are only expected to follow it.”
A Time of Unfairness
If you are a teacher who has heard that “It’s not fair” complaint from younger students, you know that you have probably been tempted to reply, “Where is it written that life is supposed to be fair?”
That would be a harsh thing to say. So of course, you have not said it. But on our blog post today, we are going to ask you teachers that same question . . .
Where is it written that life is supposed to be fair?
We apologize for asking that harsh question. But we hope that the following considerations will soften any painful emotions we might have caused when we asked it.
- The current situation you are in is temporary . . . even though that is hard to see right now.
- By accepting a degree of unfair treatment, chances are you are helping other teachers in large or small ways.
- In helping other people, you are establishing a level of helpful give-and-take that will benefit you in the long run, as favors you have granted are repaid to you.
- Your students are benefitting from the special efforts you are making during the pandemic . . . and aren’t you a teacher because you are committed to helping students?
Is There a Place You Should Draw the Line?
If policies you are required to implement are threatening your health or the health of your family, you are certainly justified in drawing a proverbial “line in the sand” which you will not cross. That is a highly personal issue that we cannot offer opinions about.
But at the same time, we might need to accept the new reality that we are living in a situation that ripples out and creates unfair situations across the board. Let us all hope it will end soon.
Review the CDC Guidelines for Schools During the Pandemic
They’re available online and are well worth reviewing.