• Akila Venkatesh

Teachers are human beings too

Updated: Jun 23

Why we must ask & listen, to how teachers feel

Fellow teacher, not too long ago you were working alongside your students, seeing their faces each morning, looking up to you for guidance, leadership and education. Together you danced through the day, through the ups and downs, the bells and whistles, the questions and quarrels; all in service of community, creativity and learning. Now, you are the 'entity' behind the screen. The 'obscure manifester' behind the educational content that pops up on the students' feed each day. You are sometimes 'a face with a voice' during synchronous learning, but often, the issue of internet connectivity quickly butts in front of human connectivity.

As teachers wrap up this tumultuous school year, it's important that we deliberately create a space to hear their voice and recognize their humanity. That's what this post and the In Good Hands platform is about. As my friend Dr. Dawn Lim reflected in a recent Maclean's article, "One of my emergency medicine colleagues, who was on the front lines during the SARS outbreak, told me that no one asked her team how they felt afterwards." Often, people in leadership positions tend be viewed as their role more than as a human being. Those they serve, unconsciously focus more on whether and how their own needs are being met without taking a moment to pause and empathize with the other's humanity. (This is even observed in very young children, who are curiously surprised to learn that their teacher doesn't live at school and does in fact have a home, and even has a first name! While this is innocent and adorable, let's hope that distance learning doesn't create further confusion as to whether their teacher is even real. Nothing is too far fetched at this point).

Fellow teacher, you matter. Your voice matters and you are not simply the entity behind the screen. Your students and community do care, but without a space to intentionally bring your humanity to the forefront of conversation and consciousness, you risk being 'logged out'; a default setting that runs when summer break starts and laptop screens are slammed shut.

We must hear how teachers feel now, and connect to their humanity before we get lost into the summer and fall seasons. Why? Because teachers are the nucleus of the ultimate purpose of education: to cultivate community and build the best world possible for, and with, the next generation. If their humanity gets obscured behind the bright letters on the screen, then no amount of better internet connection will make up for the loss of human connection. By truly listening to them now, we can carry a more connected, human approach to learning into the next school year and beyond.

Teachers, what has your school year been like for you? How have you been feeling? What are your hopes and fears? Please comment below and share alike. In Good Hands is a dialogue (not a monologue), for collective growth and change.

#teachers #humanity #elearning #voice #listen #speakup #community #education

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