Everyone’s feelings and emotions have been swirling around during this pandemic. We’ve all gotten lost in what is truth and what is speculation. It’s been seven months and we have learned many things but much still hangs in the balance. School doors have reopened and with this comes excitement, fear, and uncertainties. As a teacher, I feel all of these emotions daily.
Online learning is HARD….not only for the kids but for the teachers. Most school systems were not built to handle virtual school but the education system pulled together and made it happen. Some families rocked it and didn’t skip a beat, some families made an attempt but did not expect the difficulties that came, some families were never able to give it a chance. No matter what, our human minds were not made to sit in front of computers all day. So where did that leave us? We had to reopen schools, but the question was how?
As I write this, we are two weeks into in-person school. My feelings and emotions are like a roller coaster who’s operator doesn’t know where the off switch is. The first day of school was exhilarating. I couldn’t wait to see students in my classroom. Bulletin board up…check, Smart TV working…check, fun activities planned….check, door decorated…check and then the reality hits. Hand sanitizer…check, desk separated….check, extra face mask…check, online nurse form open in case someone is sick…check. My already long list just got even longer. Which by the way our door decorating was on point this year thanks to my awesome team!
As teachers, we already worry about our students. We want the absolute best for them. We want them to succeed. We want them to see what we see…that they can do anything if they just try. As a teacher during a pandemic, we think all of these things and then some. How much did they miss already? How long can they sit in their chairs? Do they remember how to interact with their friends? Are they nervous? Are they excited? How much do they know and don’t know about COVID? Are they fearful? Can I let them hug me, will their parents be ok with it? Can I work hard enough to make sure they can catch up to where they are suppose to be?
What a day in the classroom looks like; They made it! You are here! Find a desk and put all your school supplies on your desk. Let’s go to the carpet and read a book. Oh no, don’t sit there….keep your hands to yourself….face mask on…go wash your hands…my mind wanders every 5 seconds…do I worry about that? Do I let them do things as normal as possible? Am I protecting them? Which is more important right now…the safety guidelines or their mental health? Can I achieve both the safety guidelines and ensure their hearts and minds are flourishing? Research based educational practices do not follow COVID-19 safety protocols…where do you draw the line? I ask myself all of these things at least a 100 times a day.
None of us asked for this. We all dream of what it was before. A teacher already carried so much weight before this pandemic. Things that no one sees unless you are in the trenches. So many people have opinions but aren’t willing to jump in with us. Some aren’t willing to lighten the load. So many people have forgotten that teachers have families too. We must not only protect your children but ourselves and our families as well. Many teachers felt the weight was too much, the risk was to high. Many older teachers retired not only to protect themselves but your children. If one day your child’s teacher never came back, it would leave a mark on their heart. It would be far more traumatizing than wearing a face mask.
Believe us when we say, “We are doing our best.” I know you dream about about all the things your child will do as they grow up and so do we. We do everything possible to make sure they realize how amazing they can be. Give us grace…be our champions not our critics. I am only one teacher with a million thoughts, thoughts of wonder, worry, and hope.