2020 just couldn't catch a break. We're all exhausted from this year. We're stressed. We're burnt out. And we still have 2 months left of 2020. This past weekend finally brought some sigh of relief in quite some time.
How will we learn from 2020 and teach about it in the future?
COVID-19, shelter-in-place, distance teaching, nationwide protests, Karens. And there's George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, Eddie Van Halen, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, and 250,000+ deaths in the US...It's like the planet to decided to test the resilience of the human species in one year.
Many of us finally caught a sigh of relief with the announcement of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our 46th president and vice president, respectively. I'm not going to make this too political, but I'm sure we can all agree Trump divided this nation the past 4 years. If he had won reelection, I don't see any healing happening anytime soon. Liberals will be all on his case at every corner and tweet while there are splinter groups of Republicans like the Lincoln Project. Political polarization is worst than every before. Biden wasn't my first choice, but, to me, he was the better candidate that could foster some healing on both sides. Trump was never interested in healing or cooperating with the Democrats.
Regardless of political affiliations, I was really proud seeing how so many former students of mine have been doing their commemorative "I Voted" posts, and even those who didn't post but have told me.
My first group of students watched the 2016 election as minors when they were in my government class. Only 2 could vote that year. For the rest, this is their first presidential election as eligible voters. MANY former students were very passionate and enthusiastic voters this election. It was very encouraging to see how many Generation Z and millennials went out to vote, myself being the latter. One of my long-time friends who refused to vote for years finally cast her first ballot this time. She ended up being in the same shoes as me several years ago, trying to convince her politically apathetic friends to vote.
Even if your candidates and propositions did not win this year, please don't be discouraged. Sulk a little if you have to, but renew your energy to continue to uphold and advocate for the things you hold dear. Don't give up. If every generation people gave up, we wouldn't be around anymore.
I'm currently in my 5th year of teaching. My first year in the classroom I taught government during the 2016 election. I still vividly remember that day. Many of my students do. A few of them have messaged me, recalling that "heavy day" and how "mostly everyone was feeling pretty disheartened."
3-4 months into my new career, I became very discouraged and wondered where I want to take my fight. So much hateful rhetoric. I'm not even talking about Trump's politics, but his character. Would he be the kind of student you'd want in your class? Or the colleague you want to collaborate with in your professional learning community?
I started questioning myself. Is the classroom where I want to be? What is my purpose as an educator?
Betsy DeVos' confirmation was even more discouraging. How can someone so utterly incompetent with absolutely zero experience become Secretary of Education??? This is something educators on both sides of the political spectrum can agree on. My Trump-supporting students even asked me why someone like her got appointed. She was an absolute disaster for education. C'mon! She argued larger class sizes was a good thing!
After a few months of doubt, I eventually found strength and encouragement in the teachers' union. I met many like-minded educators who were not ready to throw in the towel. Regardless of how many of you might think about unions, the people I met are passionate educators who deeply care for their students. I am proud to call them my brothers and sisters. We would and will defend public education and our students. And we will win. I didn't care whether I had permanent status (or tenure). Education was under assault.
This past week, we won. Four years...nearly as long as I've been an educator. Biden got elected, but it isn't over. We can let out a great sigh of relief that Betsy DeVos will be gone. Take a breath and get some good night's sleep. It's not over. We simply got a president-elect who is willing to listen.
Take a well-deserved break, but remember, our work continues.
Thank you everyone for all that you do! Keep at it!
I'm Jayson, a high school social science teacher with a strong passion for social justice and public education issues.