Hi Sarah Morin, thank you so much for reading and responding. And thank you for being a teacher who cares. I couldn’t agree with you more, that they (and we all) deserve better.
One thing I failed to mention in this piece is that I work in a public elementary school. Specifically, in cross categorical resource within the special ed dept. So I’m super familiar with IEPs and legalities of compliance and such. And of course I totally understand the lack of time, the overburden of data, meetings, conferences, correspondence, and trainings, the lack (or dismantling) of necessary, valuable resources and positions, the pressure of performing well on assessments and standardized tests, and the seemingly endless piling on of more and more responsibilities without compensation, or even without taking something off the plate in exchange. And I understand how poor leadership from the administrative (and higher) levels can destroy a school from the top down.
I also know my individual concerns for my child pale in comparison to basically all the other bigger concerns — kids without enough (or any) food to eat, without homes, without parents (or “absentee” parents), abusive parents, and so on. Many students face disadvantages I’ll likely never have to worry about with my own kids. I recognize my privilege and what it affords me in life. I get that my complaints are pretty low on the teachers’ priority lists, and how easy it is for follow-up to slip through the cracks.
Still, even though these issues may not be high on others’ priority lists, they’re high on mine. It’s for that reason that I try and shut down homophobic, transphobic speech whenever I hear it in the classroom (and I do hear it, A LOT, in elementary school. “That’s gay,” “You’re so gay,” etc., said in a derogatory way). Whenever I hear gendered language, I challenge it. Every time. A few weeks ago a hyper-masculine, bully-ish boy in kindergarten told me he refused to use pink construction paper because “that’s for girls,” and also because “it’s gay.” I hear things like this all the time, and I try to always address it with a neutral tone, but I definitely turn it into teachable moments. I guess maybe I wouldn’t be doing that if I didn’t have a trans kid.
At any rate, thank you again, for reading and responding. I agree so much with “we all deserve better,” and certainly in more ways than just one. Standing in solidarity with you. ❤