Tuesday, November 17, 2020


At shortly before ten this morning, teachers in my district got the email we’d been wondering if we’d ever get. Our schools were switching from the hybrid model to 100% remote learning for the next two and a half weeks. I stood in front of my students who were reading quietly as I read the email and I wondered how to tell them. Some would be ecstatic, but some would not. School is a safe place for many kids. I wasn’t sure how this would go.

As it turned out, I got to wait a bit until the next group arrived, my homeroom. They spend a lot of time with me in this weird COVID year. I have them 1st/2nd hour for Language Arts. 5th/6th/7th hours are back with them for study halls, mask breaks, and band/choir for those participating. At the end of 5th hour when they all were in attendance, I broke the news. To say they didn’t react as I expected would be an understatement.

One girl excused herself to use the restroom. Upon returning she immediately emailed me to tell me she had to go cry because she loved her teachers and didn’t want to leave. A boy who typically doesn’t love the academic portion of school asked if I’d Zoom with him each day to help him get his homework done for other classes because that’s what I do in study hall. A student I teach, but isn’t in my homeroom, came in to load up on graphic novels. Kids said they were grateful to go home because they were afraid of the increasing numbers in our town. Other kids said they hoped we’d be back soon.

When I had a minute, I looked at my computer because while I do have many kids at school, due to remote learners, students that have been close contacts, and students with the virus - I currently teach more students online than I do in person. Sure enough, they had filled my inbox with loads of emails. So. Many. Questions. 

Before we knew it, the day was over. I took a picture of my homeroom group before they left. I teared up a bit when I realized that two boys who rolled their eyes at my picture taking at the start of our time together, had hopped into the front row of this one with no complaints. They’ve changed. We’ve all changed. 

Fifty-two school days ago, I met these kids for the first time. I worried that I wouldn’t be a good teacher to them this year. I’ve spent more hours working in the past three months than any previous school year, including my first years in education. It has been an emotional upheaval, day after day. That being said, I love these people that I get to spend my time with.

Today I came home and I wanted to collapse on the couch, eat a ton of chocolate. Beyond replying to parents and students’ emails all afternoon, I taught a Zoom class for my remote learners, emailed back and forth with students giving advice in regard to their stories, and had a separate Zoom for a student who needs to get ahead in a project. 

And I graded, and graded, and graded. Online feedback is hard, but unless I give it, the kids can’t get better. And so it goes.

The couch called to me, but I turned to yoga. More and more I find myself finding solace on the mat, or with my feet pounding out the miles. It’s been a year. As a teacher, I’m not sure if I’ve ever felt less valued by society. Teaching has felt like a constant juggling act where I’m trying to teach, trying to connect, trying to take care of my students emotionally, and trying to keep us all safe.

It’s been a lot. 

Most teachers I know are hurting, struggling. As a person who has always been confident that I will teach well into the years that I could retire, this has been the first year I’ve wondered if I should do something else. I love my administration, my colleagues, my students. But to say any time I’ve spent on social media has been disheartening would be a colossal understatement. 

I shared this Facebook post this summer. It is as truthful now as it was back then. As a society, we have to do better. 

Teachers are strong. They love your children. They sacrifice so much to do the best they can. But I think it’s time to ask ourselves, how much are they expected to sacrifice? Today my heart broke as I said goodbye, for now, to my students. I was also beyond grateful to my administration for a decision that I felt kept me safe, and these kids that I love too. 

This has been a year.

Sending loads of love to all of the folks in education out there. Also sending my gratitude to all of the essential workers, especially those in the hospitals working to heal us all. You have my utmost gratitude and respect. 

Stay safe. I hope to see you all on the other side.