Alisa Peres: Together, We Persist

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Teachers can’t be faulted for feeling overwhelmed by the year of the pandemic. But together, they persist. Alisa Peres has this Perspective.

We are all of us stretched beyond anything we could have ever imagined. Teaching is always demanding but this year, this time, this horrible pandemic is like nothing else. Hours and hours and more hours of prep, nights, weekends, new extensive tech expectations, children who are struggling, administrators who want more, parents who need help.

We take turns consoling each other. One day I might feel like I can’t do anymore, stretch any wider, and my colleagues hold me up. Another day it’s someone else. Another day it’s yet someone else. And now, my school is back to in-person instruction. Some families need to keep their children at home and in distance learning, which means we are responsible for teaching the children in front of us at the same time as engaging with those on a screen. Masks, face shields, clip on microphones, weekly COVID tests, thermometers, air filters, touchless sinks, constant sanitizing, outdoor classrooms, disinfectant sprayers. It is beyond exhausting and we count the days, sometimes the hours until the next day off.

Together we persist.

Why? Well, it’s our job. And in this time when millions are without work, without homes, without health, we are the fortunate ones. It’s more than that, though, more than “we’re doing this because we have to.” Sometimes when I’m there on campus, sometimes, I can see through the veil of my tiredness. I see children who are overjoyed to be together again. I see educators coming through with the impossible. I see maintenance staff going above and beyond. I see students who are learning.

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And yes, for us teachers, the Friday afternoon, socially distanced happy hours make all the difference. The camaraderie, virtual hugs, shared tears and laughter, keep us going, help us continue to put one foot in front of the other. Of course, Diplomático, the smooth rum our Venezuelan colleague brings to share, doesn’t hurt.

Together we persist.

With a Perspective, I am Alisa Peres.

Alisa Peres has been teaching, mostly Spanish or music, in Bay Area elementary schools for over 30 years. She lives in Berkeley.