Clear the List

Well. We’re making it. Somehow. Some way. We’re surviving as teachers, parents, or students in 2020. In so many ways, I choose to think that we’re getting stronger because of it. To be brutally honest, I hear lots of complaining these days and my patience often runs short listening to it.

I’m not above complaining myself, and I’ve done my fair share. The hardest part is seeing the children on the screen so often. I miss being able to share everything and sit together on our colorful classroom rug. But, I’m choosing to change my perspective. Just a few weeks ago, I remember standing in my classroom after school one day. I was motionless. I had been running circles all day– actual, literal circles around my room- and hadn’t stopped for two seconds to take so little as a sip of water. The list of complaints was running through my head. I stood there guzzling water and had a shift in thought, “What the heck are YOU complaining about? You work in a place where every child is provided a device and you’ve seen every child in person and/or on Zoom this week. Your students are safe. They have resources.” And that is the honest truth that I’ve tried to keep reminding myself anytime I feel like complaining. Life is all about perspective.

I read an article about the school district I taught in after college. As of late October, 575 children had yet to log in for online learning. That statistic reminded me the reality- there are two different education systems in the United States. Here we are again, continuing to fail our schools in the most underfunded and impoverished neighborhoods. So, if you work in a well-funded school district where your students are safely in school fully- I don’t really understand the complaining. Yes, mask wearing and modified recess aren’t my favorite either. If you send your children to a school that is fully open following all safety strategies, I also don’t get the complaining. (If your children are doing full remote-learning…I get it. It is SO hard. Feel free to complain away :)) Yes, the situation is far from perfect in any school, but if your school is safely open for in-person learning, it’s far better than some are enduring.

Our Title 1 teachers are struggling again; especially those in districts that are fully remote. These teachers are reaching into their own pockets. Yes, you might argue that all teachers spend their own money on their students. This is true. But not all teachers have to spend their own money on basic things like paper, pencils, or PPE. Not all teachers have to wonder how their students will log into online learning if they don’t have stable living conditions and WiFi.

So, let’s work together again to help three more Title 1 educators #clearthelist.

Meet Lauren

My classroom is filled with the bravest, smartest kids I’ve ever met. They’re the hardest workers who are climbing the highest mountains. I’ve been lucky enough to loop with my students, and cannot speak highly enough about the experience. As second graders, many of my students have had life experiences I can only imagine. Our community is hit hard by drugs, abuse, and  homelessness. School is our students’ sanctuary. With that, many of my students cannot provide the items on the supply list that is carefully curated at the end of every year. Like many others, I fill the gaps. I fill empty backpacks and desks. I fill hearts and minds. Education is their way to break the cycle. 

My district has struggled to provide the materials necessary to support online learning, providing us with computers that cannot meet the demands of teaching in a pandemic. 

Click here to fill Lauren’s list.

Meet Amanda

My name is Amanda and I am a 7th grade special education teacher in Rochester, NY. I am about to begin my 6th year teaching although it feels like my first year again. I began teaching through Teach for America NY and have been working in title 1 schools ever since. Many of my students look to school for safety and comfort, but we will be virtual to start this school year. While I can’t comfort them in person, I would like to provide them with the tools they need to learn from home. Please consider donating to any of my materials so I can be the best teacher possible for them!

Click here to help clear Amanda’s list.

Meet Britt

Hi! I’m a first grade teacher and I’m passionate about reading and teaching my students to love reading. Social emotional learning was added this year to help students through the challenges of the pandemic. My students are learning to identify, communicate, and manage their emotions through our SEL lessons. As you can imagine this can be difficult for first graders but we use books to help us. I was wondering if you would be willing to share my Amazon wishlist with your followers in hopes of building our classroom library. Thank you in advance <3

Click here to help clear Britt’s list.

A final thought from me…

Thank you for helping these rockstar teachers clear their lists. As much as I appreciate the compliments about how ‘nice’ it is for me to post about this. I have to be honest- guilt is a feeling I’ve battled with during my teaching career. At the age of 22, I began teaching in a Title 1 school. I found myself working there when no other district would give a brand-new teacher a chance. My first principal gave me a chance, because she could tell I wanted to be a teacher so badly. My colleagues welcomed with me open arms. They hugged me in the moments I was brought to tears and took me to happy hour on the hard days. They helped me clean up glass and broken materials after my classroom was broken into one night. They taught me the most valuable lesson- school needs to be a place where children feel safe, loved, and appreciated. They taught me to celebrate small victories. They taught me that reading levels don’t really matter when a child comes to school hungry. Then, I’m embarassed to admit, I let the opinions of others get to me. I let people around me tell me, “Get out of there before you get stuck! You’ll burn out!”

So, ten years ago, I left to work in a high-performing well-funded school district. I wouldn’t trade my current job for the world. I love going to work each and everyday, and feel incredibly blessed to be part of such an incredible community that has the financial means to support our schools. I know they will have to kick me out of my classroom thirty years from now so I can enjoy retirement. I wouldn’t have met my husband if I hadn’t made the move. I wouldn’t live closer to my family again. The list goes on, and I believe I made the right decision for myself. It can be hard to grasp with the reality- perhaps my decision was a bit selfish. But, sometimes I wonder, “What if I stayed?”

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the inequity in education. I wish there weren’t “great schools” and “bad schools”. All children deserve great schools. Whenever a child asks me for new crayons, I simply run to my closet to grab a brand-new box. I think of all the teachers who don’t have that luxury. I don’t know what my purpose is moving forward, but I feel compelled to share my raw honesty more often on this platform. I continue to infuse community work into my everyday life, and ultimately, sharing teacher wishlists is such a small thing I can do. These teachers in our Title 1 districts are fighting a fight that only the strongest survive.

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