In response to the recent Ed Week article Summer School Is More Important Than Ever, But Teachers Are ‘Fried’ And Need A Break, we invited FFT Fellows to weigh in. Beth Mowry, who is also leading this summer’s Innovation Grant Circle on Social Emotional Learning, weighed on the state of teachers’ well-being:
Teachers are Tired
Everyone is tired and incentivizing teachers to work over the summer is so short-sighted. We saw at the beginning of the pandemic how teachers were lauded as “amazing” and “essential workers.” Now when teachers are setting self-care boundaries, and choosing to NOT work over the summer, we are reprimanded for not “doing this for the kids” (moral manipulation!)
In regard to “Learning Loss”
It’s such deficit-thinking. “Falling behind” is another phrase that just frustrates me to the core – behind what? Some arbitrary line drawn in the sand by education policy-makers with little experience actually working with young people in the classroom? The phrase also can be interpreted as teachers aren’t working hard enough.
Students are Tired
I appreciate the superintendent in the article who is using the money for more direct intervention IN THE FALL. The kids who were disengaged in remote learning are definitely NOT going to magically engage in the SUMMER. There are so many systemic, trauma-response and poverty-driven reasons behind why kids did not engage in learning this year. I’d love to see a study done to really find out some hard data about that. Maslow’s Hierarchy is a pyramid FOR a REASON – humans can’t engage in higher levels if their foundation is crumbling at the edges.
Interestingly, Fund for Teachers’ Fellows demonstrate that teachers’ batteries are recharged by learning.
This summer, our grant recipients fall into two categories: Teachers pursuing learning with our traditional summer fellowships (with up to $5,000 per individual and $10,000 as a team; and previous FFT grant recipients (Fellows) using $1,000 Innovation Grants to individually pursue learning around the topics of Social Emotional Learning, Accessibility, Art & Design, and Equity. These teachers are in the process of meeting in these cohorts virtually prior to their fellowships and will convene again throughout the fall to reflect on their findings and brainstorm on classroom implementation.
We thank Beth for her insight and for choosing to lead 13 other Fellows in the SEL cohort throughout the summer and fall. On her fellowship, Beth conducted paleontology research at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, earning credentials in paleontology to support student scientific studies and journals.