We were tuned in to watch the news as we got dressed for church. Our youngest son loves to watch building implosions on the news and then drive by to see the site once the building is demolished.
We were in Phase 1 of our tradition. We must have tuned in about six minutes too soon which seemed like an eternity to our son. Full of I can’t take it any longer impatience, he says, “I’m out, I’m going to finish getting dressed.” No sooner than he turned the corner out of our bedroom, boom went the implosion.
Immediately through the sea of implosive ashes, one could see that a part of the building remained standing.
People held their breath, stood frozen for several moments waiting for the last part standing to crumble. In awe, it was quickly realized that even with all the power and effort to bring down this entire structure, the segment now known as “The Leaning Tower of Dallas,” would remain standing.
Over the next several days, engineers came up with a plan to finish bringing down the structure. A cruncher was brought in to take it down and it didn’t do the job. Next, a 5,600-pound wrecking ball repeatedly pounded the building in an attempt to bring it down.
The wrecking ball took swings at the building over and over and over…it’s core stood strong. The remaining structure leaned to one side, wounded, but still standing, the building after taking one hit after the next.
Isn’t this just like teachers?
Teachers take hit after hit.
Come along with me.
The amount of hours teachers spending working in a week should make OSHA shiver. An eight hour work day begins long before the morning bell rings. Teachers arrive at work early to “get ahead” in the perpetual sea of unending work: lesson plans, responding to emails, pulling work together for copies, preparing for meetings, data mapping, filing papers, grading papers, and creating lessons. Folks, this is not a even the beginning of being a comprehensive list of the daily tasks vying for the teacher’s attention.
Then comes teaching. Teachers are feeling like they’re doing less and less teaching because of all the demands outside of teaching. Teaching is the easy part. This is where teachers come alive. Ever heard a teacher say, “Teaching is my happy place,” or, “Teaching is my jam?”
Taking students on a journey from doubting themselves to believing they can do whatever they set out to do…seeing that spark of confidence, courage, and bravery in students is every teacher’s why, the jam of teaching.
After the bell, the same before the bell monotonous tasks await the teacher and hence the cycle begins again.
Students are experiencing more emotional trauma than ever. Mental health is at the forefront of our society. Some students are struggling. That struggle comes with sometimes volatile emotional episodes. The episodes are often challenging and taxing not only for the student, but also for the teacher who is trying to manage and meet the needs of that child while also making other students feel reassured of their safety.
As a result, the teacher is emotionally drained. For some teachers, deescalation and evacuations are a normal part of the school day.
If there is minimal support from admin and/or parents, the teacher can quickly begin to have feelings of desolation and isolation as if he or she is on an island.
Being hit with the wrecking ball over and over, the teacher begins to lean…still standing, but taking multiple direct blows.
On March 2, 2020, after repeated hits by the wrecking ball, the Leaning Tower of Dallas crumbled.
Teachers are leaving this wonderful profession. Teaching is one of the few professions in which you get to ignite a spark and love for learning in others. Taking hit after hit, even the strongest can eventually decide to walk away before they crumble.
Herein lies the silent epidemic. There isn’t a day that goes by that there isn’t a post on social media from an educator who is saying goodbye to the profession. Colleagues are expressing sadness from learning of a friend who is saying goodbye to the profession we love so much.
The tower may have fallen, but we don’t have to let our colleagues fall.
It is imperative that we begin having conversations about the rapidly climbing attrition rate in education. Are teachers in need of more self care? Should mental health days be embedded in the school calendar, and not days that count against teachers personal leave banks? Do teachers need more support, more funding?
The answer is an easy yes to all of these questions, but the conversations must occur. Problems must be addressed.
Teachers are stronger than the tower. Teachers are resilient and full of tenacity and grit. Teachers can take hits. Educators might lean, but with the support of colleagues and a strong administrative team, teachers will keep standing.