Give your teachers some grace

Aimee Liu | The Chronicle

“I am so stressed out.”

Walking the halls of MHS, it is almost impossible not to hear this phrase. I have used it a fair number of times in just the last week. On top of regular activities, there is no doubt that finals, end-of-course (EOC) exams, and Advanced Placement (AP) exams induce quite a bit of stress for students. It is the end of the year, and after almost 10 months of academics, extracurriculars, time management struggles and sleep deprivation, we are all looking forward to a break. Senioritis has officially hit for the graduating class, and summer cannot come sooner.

However, often forgotten, especially this time of year, are teachers. Behind every assignment we turn in is a teacher who has to grade our work. Behind every complaint about how much work we have is a teacher who has to decide how to finish teaching all of the content before the end of the school year. Behind every class activity we do is a teacher who brainstormed the most effective way to engage their students. Sure, our end of year tests are stressful, but are they not for our teachers as well? They not only have to prepare students for these tests, but also manage students’ and parents’ complaints, schedule changes, grading, standards from administration and their own lives, which may include a plethora of other factors. It is so easy to antagonize our teachers, but should we really be blaming them?

Teachers carefully plan their course content to fit across the school year. They have less than 180 days to get all of the information to students before the AP test or final exam. However, with snow days, absences and other issues that may get in the way of a lesson plan, following a previously planned agenda is not always possible.

In addition, teachers also have to manage behavior in their classroom, and anyone who has met high schoolers would know that getting a rowdy group of 30 teenagers to calm down and focus on something is no simple feat. Individual students’ needs may require teachers to implement additional intervention. Teachers are expected to identify and assist students who may need more help, whether academic, personal or otherwise. Many students rely on their teachers to be mentors, role models and listening ears. Whether we see it or not, teachers play a wide range of roles in the school, and it is hard to deny the amount of effort they put into simply making sure all their students are okay.

Grading is another element of teaching we may not always acknowledge: for every one essay we write, our teachers likely have hundreds more to grade. Getting these grades back to students, providing quality feedback and doing so in a timely and efficient manner, is not always easy. On top of this, I cannot imagine what it must be like for teachers to constantly hear students nag about their grades when I, as a student myself, already get fed up with the never-ending academic comparison.

Teachers are also expected to write letters of recommendation for their students, an additional task that may not always be written out in the job summary. While writing these letters may not necessarily be an unpleasant experience, it surely takes time out of teachers’ already busy schedules. Many teachers also advise or organize clubs and oversee various programs within the community. Again, although this may be an enjoyable responsibility, it is another commitment many teachers make to see us succeed.

Yet despite the endless list of jobs teachers are tasked with, they are often vilified by the media. We live within a political climate that loves to hate on teachers and undermine the importance of what they do. On top of being underpaid, teachers face rude comments from parents, people questioning their qualifications and diminishing their expertise, decisions on whether to teach certain content that could be deemed controversial and rampant criticism of the teacher shortage. Meanwhile, they are expected to be innovative, adaptable, keep up with the changing times, while still being good teachers and carrying out all of the above responsibilities. We try to mend these issues with things like Teacher Appreciation Week, but is that really enough?

It is so easy to get caught up in our own problems, but maybe teachers are not the enemy. We have all experienced the last year together and have faced many of the same struggles. As cliche as it is, we have all been in the same boat. I am sure teachers are just as tired, if not more, than we are. Cut them a little slack, stop yourself before your third complaint of the class, maybe even say thank you. At the end of the day, I think it is fair to say that we are all trying our best, and maybe a little compassion could make it just a bit easier for all of us. Maybe collectively embracing the ups and downs of the past year, and maybe giving each other just the slightest bit of additional grace will eliminate some of the stress we face as we all get through this home stretch.