I’m not even sure where to start with this because there’s so many emotions running through me over the last few days.
Sadness: I went into my classroom to start packing things up and getting ready for the end of the year. My calendar said March 13, the last day we were at school together. The message on the board showed the schedule for the day. My assignment board talked about those things due the following week. It was a mini time capsule. The room echoed with the voices of students laughing, questioning, arguing, and generally being sixth graders. I had a webinar told and during our introduction, we had to give one word to describe our Covid experience. My word: surreal. That’s what my experience was in my classroom. I have to go back and it’s not something I’m looking forward too.
Anger: Today, we volunteered at our local food bank, and it’s like the virus just disappeared. One person had a mask on. No one in our outside group except me. None of the people picking up food. It’s as if we flipped a switch and left a global pandemic in the past. We had to stop at Dollar General (Diet Coke addiction – judge me!), and I was the only one inside with a mask. I want to go back to school in the fall and have face to face talks with my students. I want to attend a tailgate in Iowa City and Ames. I want to visit my wife’s aunt and uncle in Iowa City, my parents, my brother and his family (and there new puppy!) and give them all hugs. This won’t happen, not until people either see this as serious. Right now, spring is here, and apprehension about the virus has disappeared, like a miracle.
Joy: Yesterday, I got an email from the guardians of a student who transferred during her freshman year. I had her as a student in 5th, 6th, and 8th grade, and each time I pushed her to do better. I always had a positive word, even when her classmates did not. She struggled in school, but was always a hard worker, and I’ve often wondered how she turned out. The email said:
***** would like to send you a graduation announcement card. Could we get your address? She’s doing amazing, has lots of friends and a great future ahead of her. Thank you so much for the past support. It helped her survive.
That got me. Hard. Tears of joy as she succeeded and believed in herself. I’ve had very, very poor engagement with the sixth graders the last couple of weeks and I’ve really doubted my purpose in all this nonsense. If I cannot connect with these kids I had in my classroom, how could I ever do this next year if we come back online. I needed this in at a level I didn’t quite understand.
I emailed my address and expressed my gratitude for being remembered. The reply:
Always know, “You Made a Difference”
Anxeity: We got an email for our professional development this week, and inside it was a document about our return to learn plan the state is expecting. The key words: accelerated learning plans.
We have a little over a week until school is out. I’ve been on countless hours of Zoom, trying to figure out how to teach online, learning things, discovering tools of the trade of those who have experience with distance learning, and now, I’ll be accelerating the learning of my students, all of whom haven’t been in school since March 13th.
Of course, we’ll make it happen. We’ll put together a plan. We work to create the best possible learning situations for our students, regardless of where or when they are learning. But at what cost? If this has taught us anything, everything has a cost, to the students, parents, and yes, the teachers. What will the cost be if we do this? What’s the cost if we don’t?
So, if I seem a bit spacy, a bit distracted, there are a lot of emotions out there. Sometimes, it feels like I’m dealing just fine, then, something shiny distracts me.
But why should I be any different than my students, right?