Angela Tonn on Teaching During the Pandemic
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My name is Angela Tonn, and I am a public high school teacher. I teach biology and AP biology. This is my 30th year, actually my 31st year. Try not to count the COVID year. I want to start by saying I'm about to talk about how miserable it is, but I want to start by saying, I am one of those who believes in the necessity of being remote. Now, I do not think it's safe for the kids, their families, or the teachers and our families to be eight hours. Face-to-face in a broken down old building with a crappy HVAC. I don't mean to call out my County. I think it's, but I think that's across the board. We have not invested in education, it's rough. It really is all the things that we love about teaching. The things that we do are now removed and remote. You know, this is nice. Like I like to see your face. That's neat. We can talk, but it's, it's not the same as being in a room together. And you think about this with like your friends or your family, or if you zoom with your, your grandma or whatever, it's, it's nice, but it's not the same.
So you assess them in a million tiny ways. The minute they come in your room. Oh, Sarah was kind of sad today. Let me make a note to ask her something. Oh, John, John doesn't look well, you know, those little, little tiny things right on over to I'm lecturing to my AP biology kids, and that's supposed to be a college level class. So we're giving college level lectures, but you see that blank face like, Oh, that didn't land. Let me back that up. So the million ways to do our job. And the million ways to connect and interact, which really lets us do our job. You know, we say in teaching they don't care what, you know, until they know you care. And, uh, it's true. I think, you know, they, they, don't not a fan of the teacher who, uh, works too hard to curry favor with children. Cause that gets creepy, but they do need to know that you're in their corner and it's so hard. Weirdly last year was a little easier because we'd known them when we had to cut, you know, and this year we get all new kids and I've never seen their face except on a screen. It's honestly, it's damn depressing.
We are not doing right by our children And I have watched them become stressed. Like your, your good students stress out because they want to do well. And I can only imagine what it's doing to the youngers and middle of the roady kind of kids check out because they feel like they can't play this game. It's like, they're suddenly playing soccer against Atlanta United in their mind. And it's like, Hmm, I'm going to lose anyway. In 30 years they'll have no memory of what they learned in school, but they will remember how they felt. Even then I'm telling them guys it's it's, it's a pandemic. The whole pan. Remember pan? Everybody. The world knows that this is the, you guys are gonna be the COVID kids and don't do this to yourself. Really? Don't do this to yourself. Parents, stop doing this to your kids they'll be fine. Let's teach them enough. Let's make them feel secure. Let's make sure they know that their teachers and their parents and their community care about them. We've gotta stop doing this to children.
My students, like I, one of the reasons this is so miserable, so we, I mean, we can chat and I do get them to like pulling teeth cause they don't like to be on camera. Isn't that weird? Teenagers would take selfies all day, every day and Snapchat all the time, getting them to go live with me is like, I've really practically, Like I've got to promise them food and money or something. So maybe if we back to your question, COVID education at the time of COVID the thing I'm most hopeful about is maybe more parents and more community members will realize that we don't need any of that mess. It's just a money suck and a time suck. What we need is quality teaching and learning and time with the kids and community engagement. Oh. And funding. That'd be nice too. But so maybe I'm hoping if we're going to look on the bright side and be a glass half full kind of girl, maybe more people will realize that when they're like, Hey, we didn't have standardized tests last year. And my kid is still alive. Look at that.
And like I said, some of the experience from this, this COVID weirdness that gives me some hope is I hear. Maybe it's because we're, so we're all so starved for like interaction with people that maybe some of us are really starting to examine our privilege. Our places where we fall short, because we all do. Maybe we will really stop and go, wow. Why was it when all this went nuts, the only place I could turn for community help was a public school?
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