In the midst of a shutdown

The last week has been some of the most meaningful work I’ve done in my 11 years of teaching. It’s not what I want. But “necessity is the mother of invention.” The boredom, the being forced out of a routine, can give rise to beauty. I’m sure of that.

Two weeks ago, I told my kids to have a great spring break. We knew COVID-19 was a threat, but we figured we’d be back together shortly after spring break, if not immediately after.

Little did I know that would be the last time I’d share my classroom with them.

What I would give to go back to the Friday.

We sure wouldn’t have quizzed in calc, I can tell you that much.

Since then, we’ve been on a state-wide shutdown, with distance learning to commence a week from today. My emotions have been all over the map. I’m grieving the loss of time with my kids and the lack of a routine. Yet I’m grateful to live in a nation where I have access to accurate data and good healthcare. And I’m joyous for the extra time I get with my husband and son, all while still getting paid our same salaries.

Yet, I find such meaning and purpose in my work. Yes, it can be an idol at times, I’m well aware and I’m working on it (COVID-19 is forcing me to work on it). But it’s still my joy and my calling. As my husband says: the classroom has and always will be my natural habitat, both as a student and as a teacher.

So, the past week I’ve had to get creative with how to reach my kids. Even though we haven’t started distance learning yet, I felt the need to connect with those who wanted to connect. Because these are unprecedented times. And I knew lots of them would be going through the same emotions I’ve been experiencing. And they deserved to have their teacher by their side still.

I made a promise to them on the first day of school: they belong to me.

I promised I would never leave. I promised they could come to me without ever receiving judgement. I promised to always be a safe place to land.

I never promised perfection.

I just promised I’d show up.

And so help me God, no pandemic can get in the way of that.

So, teacher loves: if you need some encouragement or a virtual hug, this is for you. We signed up to do important work. We are still doing important work. Our work may look different, but it feels the same.

It feels like Love.

So keep loving your kids. Keep sending those messages or emails, whether to one student or whole classes. Keep reaching out with videos and silly pictures. We all need extra love and extra smiles right now.

Keep fighting the good fight. We’re in this together.

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