Teachers are Champions, Blog by UEA President Heidi Matthews

“Hard days are the best because that’s when champions are made.” Gabrielle Douglas

Well, teachers – our secret is out. It’s taken a global pandemic, but now the world finally understands what we live and breathe: the indisputable, irrefutable and incredible value of our public schools.

Sure, people have always valued public schools as a place where our children go to learn to read, solve, prove…where kids make friends, laugh, play and thrive together.

In our new situation of “doing school” rather than “going to school,” our social distance reveals the fundamental role schools fulfill in our society. During this pandemic, our citizens are realizing what we have known all along, schools aren’t just about learning, they are about living.

We miss our students. They miss us. Parents REALLY miss us. (A special prayer for those of you who are teachers AND have school aged children!)

In our efforts to provide meaningful lessons, we look to opportunities in the crisis for our students to learn about pandemic. They are learning about exponents and curves, mutations, the stock market. Crossing fingers that they are learning about self-discipline, self-direction, self-imposed recess, patience, and hopefully, we guide them to find their passions, explore their creativity, open up a real book with paper pages, breathe.

They miss their friends.

This pandemic has revealed the important role our schools play in leveling the playing field of opportunity for all of our students. Too hungry to learn? Come to school and eat. Tired from a night in a shelter? Let us introduce to you a social worker. Too sick or hurting to listen and concentrate? Learn differently? We know people and are people who can help. Not until you have what you need on Maslow’s Hierarchy can you really shine in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Our jobs have always been to be on the front lines of equity for our most vulnerable students. We are there for these students now in helping them to “attend” and stay connected with as much normal as possible in a world that is so not normal. They will need us more than ever even after it’s over. And you will be there, because that’s what you do.

Let’s celebrate the new light shining on teachers as we shift from school as a physical place to the “school” we create. Yes, our schools are about learning, but they are so much more. This pandemic has shown that our schools are not just buildings, Our schools are our humanity.

These days are hard, and you are champions!