Teaching has always been hard. But, teaching during a global pandemic has made things “almost impossible” says Ari Christine, an educator in the Dallas area.
So, like many others, she left the classroom. She wishes other teachers would leave, too.
In an essay she called: “Teaching is a Woman: Why I Closed My Classroom Door,” Christine describes the many ways in which teachers, like women in general – maybe because most are women – are disrespected in society, especially during COVID.
“Once the pandemic hit, [teaching] just became a very toxic profession. I saw a lot of us unraveling. To be told, during a global pandemic, that you must teach in person… And I saw a lot of my colleagues, who are parents, leaving their children at home to do virtual school [while they were] being forced to go into the classroom. And I started to, kind of see myself, wanting all teachers to just leave, to pull out, maybe not forever, but just to force some change in the profession.”
In her essay Christine writes: “I care about the children, but I have to care about me more.”
How is teaching like the experience of being a woman? She says women are taught to serve, taught to feel guilty for taking time off. They’re celebrated for sacrificing and only appreciated when they leave.
“Teaching is still a profession dominated by women,” Christine said. “And I think if that weren’t the case, perhaps the pay would be better. Perhaps the hours would be a bit more flexible and the demands would not be as high…If you think about all of the stories you’ve seen during the pandemic, it’s about a teacher going far out of his or her way to make things better for other people.”
Christine says the underappreciation and “micromanaging” of teachers goes way back. Even before the pandemic hit.
“It’s not even about teaching anymore,” she said. “It’s about applying systems. And they bring in so many experts who’ve never taught a classroom full of children. And they tell you this system will work for a classroom of 30 different personalities, 30 different learning styles.”
“You never are made to feel like an expert. It doesn’t matter if you’ve taught for 40 years.”
Christine taught high school for 11 years. She says she loved the students. But she doesn’t see herself going back into a classroom in Texas ever again.
“We should have the very best interest of our children in mind,” Christine said. “Unfortunately, we don’t. And that has just been displayed over and over throughout this pandemic. If we had the best interest of children, their safety would be a priority. And I’m not just talking about when gunmen come into the building. We’re talking about a pandemic right now. [At] the very beginning…we heard gatherings were the trigger. Well, newsflash: school is a gathering where, for many schools here in Texas, thousands of children show up each day.”