EDITIORIAL

Leadership is not about placing blame

Posted 12/17/20

To the Editor: Gov. Gina Raimondo accused me and my colleagues of "e;throwing in the towel."e; Among other things, I am disgusted and embarrassed that I voted for her in 2018. I never like to tout the work that I do, but I want the governor to know what I do

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EDITIORIAL

Leadership is not about placing blame

Posted

To the Editor:

Gov. Gina Raimondo accused me and my colleagues of “throwing in the towel.” Among other things, I am disgusted and embarrassed that I voted for her in 2018.

I never like to tout the work that I do, but I want the governor to know what I do most days. Around 7 a.m., I meet with 1-2 students on Google Meet in order to go over rough drafts with them. We go over their essays on a shared Google Document, dissecting each line and word. The topics have ranged from the spread of ancient Islam to trade in the Indian Ocean to the impact of the Columbian Exchange.

When I take attendance during each of my classes – keeping in mind that 95 percent of my students have not reported to the school building since March – I make sure to randomly ask the students how they are doing and what is going on in their lives. I ask because I care and because I want to make a connection with each student, especially given the fact that I have never met at least half of my current students.

Planning class activities has been very challenging. My students are all home, and many of them, for various reasons – some legitimate and excused – don’t turn on their cameras. As such, it is very difficult for them to work in groups or “breakout rooms.” Many of them – again, for legitimate reasons – keep their microphones off and prefer not to speak. Some of my students are in crowded homes. Some of them are babysitting their siblings. Some of them are in bed – while in class on Google Meet – because they worked at a local drive-thru until midnight.

It is hard to know if my students are understanding the content that I am teaching them, especially when I can’t see or hear their reactions. So I’ve tried my best to ask them more questions, randomly call on every student, and give them meaningful assignments that allow me to know if they understand the work.

Class cannot be all lecturing, whether it is in person or online. I have tried my best to innovate. My AP students have had successful online debates. My seniors have created “advertisements” on Google Slides that promote the Montgomery Bus Boycott. And that was just this week. Every day, I think and research new ways to teach the content and come up with new online activities that are engaging and meaningful.

On top of all of that, my colleagues and I have spent most of the school year in our classrooms. Most of us have had COVID-positive students who brought the virus into school and into our classrooms. Many of my colleagues have had to quarantine because of exposure to the virus. Many of my students have had to quarantine because of exposure to the virus. Some of my colleagues – and too many of my students, particularly my seniors – have suffered from COVID itself.

I am not on the front lines and I don’t have the courage of a nurse or a doctor. But to say that teachers have thrown in the towel is a lie at best.

And the people who deserve the most credit in all of this are our students. My student attendance has been the best of my career. Nearly all of my students are doing their work and trying their best. And despite the awful circumstances of this year – quarantines, no Homecoming football game, no school events or dances – they never complain. It is high time that we recognize our students and children for their positive attitudes and efforts through all of this. When I was in high school, I would have been complaining until I couldn’t complain anymore!

I implore the governor to take a closer look at how schools run. She should look at the Herculean effort that our administrators and superintendents have made. She should ask herself how a school can function when the majority of the staff is infected or on quarantine.

Leadership is not about placing blame. It is about finding solutions. Our school leaders have found more solutions than the governor has.

May we all stay safe and healthy.

Scott Berstein

Cranston

leadership, blame

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