FRAMINGHAM – My name is Robin McAllister. I am a Special Education Teacher at Framingham High School with a concentration in Math. I just finished my 13th year working in Framingham. I am a parent of two children. My oldest daughter attends Blocks Preschool and my youngest attends the infant room at FHS.
During my time in Framingham, I have always commuted an hour in one direction. This was not because I could not get a teaching job in a different district, but because I found Framingham to be a special town/city to work for. That changed Wednesday night during the School Committee Meeting. The disrespected tone that was received from Administrators and some of the School Committee Members was disheartening.
There were statements about teachers conducting lessons from their houses and the distractions of the doorbell or a house pet. What I heard is that you do not respect the teachers of the FTA to be professional while working remotely. What I heard is that teachers being in an empty classroom is more productive than teaching remotely from their home. What I heard is that the majority of the School Committee does not care about the health and safety of the staff of Framingham Public Schools during a global pandemic.
Remote learning in the Spring was crisis learning. It was fast, it was chaotic, and it was a new way of teaching that had not been done at the Pre-K – 12 level before this year. Many teachers offered remote learning sessions through Canvas or Google Meets that were unattended for weeks.
As a Special Educator, I contacted parents, students in my classes, and my caseload a total of 324 times. 324 messages of video conferences, grades, emails, updates, remote learning plans, and other various items. These messages were sent in the early morning, mid-afternoon, and sometimes at 11 pm at night.
My summer has consisted of summer conferences, creating digital materials, listening to four-hour school committee meetings, reading emails from administrators, voluntary meetings with the Superintendent during my vacation, and learning new resources to help my students in the fall. It has cost money and time with my children. It has cost me the ability to recharge and get ready for the school year. It has cost me to become more stressed and anxious as the school year approaches.
Teachers are professionals. If you do not think I am professional enough to work from home and limit distractions, then how can you possibly think I can be professional in my classroom. It should not matter where I provide your children with a digital educational experience. It should matter that I provide them with an appropriately challenging and engaging learning experience.
When I hear that you want me to teach from an empty classroom, what I hear is you don’t value my time.
The majority of teachers in this district will not have a classroom that they can teach in alone. They will have to share space and move when they are not teaching. They will then be moved into a larger space with other teachers that are six feet apart. This will take time to move all of my materials to continue planning. This will take time that I could be planning. This will take time that I will not be creating videos and virtual worksheets. This will take time that is so critical, it can’t be wasted.
I went to school to give children an education. I am not a daycare. I am not a dumping ground. I am a teacher who went to school for eight years to get three degrees to give your child an education. An education that can happen anywhere in the world at any time. Location excluded.
Framingham High teacher