As I sit here, staring at my 32 inch computer monitor listening to 2020 Covid-19 Classroom Procedures I feel like I’m in the twilight zone. Washing hands on the hour, TVs in the lunch room because there is NO talking, and realizing that come September 8th my room won’t be filled with little humans bustling with excitement – instead I’ll do my best to share my excitement via ZOOM.
And excitement I will SHARE – I know this isn’t the school year that we wanted, we being the parents, students and teachers BUT what I do know is that we, as teachers know how much we HAVE TO SHOW UP. Not for the parents, not for the administrators, but for our students, and that is exactly what I planned to do.
^ That writing has been sitting in my drafts since August 20th, 2020.
147 days, 1,176 hours, and 70,560 minutes. That’s how long I spent staring at a computer screen, interacting with 15 second graders, and looking back, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Was it hard? Excruciating.
Were there moments when I mentally didn’t think I could make it? More times than I can count.
Was there days that I didn’t think I could physically get in my car and show up? Once a week, at least.
How about tears? Let’s not even go there.
There were times I felt so defeated, so unappreciated as a teacher that I was afraid I wasn’t going to make it. Not only as a teacher, but more importantly as a human.
I always used to think that if I was ever pushed to my breaking point, I would just break. Well, NEWS FLASH, we, as humans are INCREDIBLE because you know what? I didn’t break, in fact I got stronger and more resilient.
I had a decision to make at the beginning of this year, I could let this year, this job, and these circumstances crush me physically and mentally OR I could look in the mirror and decide that I was going to handle it. I was going to find the positives no matter how deep I had to dig.
I will say if it wasn’t for those 15 little humans I would have abandoned ship along time ago.
There were days that I sat in my room and cried, hell, I broke down right in front of my principal and told him I didn’t know if I could continue because I “hated” my job. I used the actual word “hate”, while looking my boss right in the eyes. If that doesn’t tell you the mental state that I was in, then I’m not sure what will.
His response? He told me to bring Stella Mae to work – he hoped having her here would bring me some comfort during these times.
Another reason, I’m still here? My school, my coworkers, and my principal. One thing I’ve learned from this year is that you absolutely HAVE to have a support system at work. You can’t take on the challenges of work unless you have people there to support you.
Whether you are a parent/guardian, an administrator, a teacher, or a student – all I have to say is WE DID IT.
We completed a year that no one ever expected, a year when everything we did was uncertain, a year when the world we knew was no longer, and we completed it to the best of our abilities.
What am I going to do now? I’m going to take hold of this experience and never forget it. When things get tough I’m going to remember the hard shit that I went through this year and realize that I can and will always get through everything.
I’m going to take the next couple months to just be. Step away from school and spend my time doing whatever I want. I’m going to sleep in until 9am, I’m going to practice yoga more frequently, I’m going to create more recipes, write more blogs, and thoroughly enjoy my summer.
And then I’ll be back. August will come sooner than later and I’ll be back. Except things will be different. Why? I’m teaching 3rd grade, which means some of the students that I never got to “meet” in person might be in my class. Because I’ll come back in August to actual physical humans inside of my actual physical classroom – and “Zoom” will be something that we giggle about when we talk about last year.
My classroom won’t consist of empty desks, silence, or walls that feel like barriers between me and the outside world. No, my classroom will be filled with with laughter and maybe some tears, HANDS ON learning, and some really really strong relationships.
And what’s even better than that? This rug that has been tucked away for an entire year will be dusted off and laid right in front of my door just in time for all the brand new “school shoes” to step on it as my little humans walk into their new 3rd grade classroom on the first day of school.
TO MY 2ND GRADERS, BETTER KNOWN AS MY “LITTLE HUMANS”,
I am sorry I never got to hug you. I am sorry I was never able to physically comfort you when you were upset. I am sorry that we never got to experience recess together. I am sorry we never sat together at lunch. I am sorry we never had a classroom of our own, but more importantly I am sorry for the hardships that you were put through this last year and the obstacles you had to overcome with no road map.
I am not sorry for experiencing this year with you. I am not sorry for sitting front row, watching you grow into the strongest little humans I have ever met. I am not sorry for celebrating all the hard things we accomplished together. Most importantly, I am not sorry that I had the opportunity to be your teacher during a year that none of us will ever forget.
“I am connected and loved, even when we are far apart. I’ll keep you with me, held here in my heart.”
I love you.