I am the children we teach. Stories of grit, perseverance, and resilience overemphasize the adult-like characteristics teachers like to point out in children of color. Teachers are not super heros. We are humans, doing what helpful human things, like recognizing the personhood of someone outside of ourselves.
What the corona virus is exposing it that issues of access and equity run deeper than we'd like to think or care to admit. Biases and privileges are continuously being brought to light. This virus is working to expose the challenges many would rather keep in the dark. The situation is overwhelming - but let's not forget it has been overwhelming for those living in and with economic uncertainty for a long, long time. What the virus has demonstrated is that no one is immune to its effects. You can run out of state, and there it will find you.
How can we expect homework completion if students were not given access to computers or classes where they learn how to type, learn about shortcuts, or how to create presentations? What we are setting up is a false dichotomy.
The other side of that coin is that when teachers assign playlists it's not our job to say, "Well, they don't need my help, they can get through it." I do not believe that is the point of asynchronous teaching. Students need guidance. No, I am not ascribing to the "banking-model of education," that Friere so eloquently describes; I am fighting for teachers as facilitators to recognize that most 13 year-olds don't like asking for help. And 13 year-olds who are in economically unstable situations, and are possibly embarrassed by the state of those affairs will not tell you that they need help. Compacted to that is the narrative found in many close-knit immigrant families, as mine was, "Keep your family's business, your family's business." For some, poverty is deeply shameful - especially in a society that lauds the gifts of capitalism.
I implore teachers to continue to build relationships with students during this time. Reach out and don't assume. Let's not call one another super heros - that's a variant of the savior mentality and/or complex.
Ms. St. Jean
Native New Yorker teaching and living the middle school life, using this site to keep it 100. My students are the embodiment of joy.