I am a teacher.
My job is to teach kids, but it is so much more than that.
If I were to write an accurate job description, it would take up approximately 100 pages, size 12 font, single-spaced. I can’t even explain everything I do as a teacher to my family who wonders why I stay late so often, and take work home with me.
But lately, my job has changed.
However, the heart of what I do has not.
Making connections and building relationships.
In many ways, not being able to see my students in person makes this difficult, to say the least. I call, but don’t always connect. I email, but don’t always get a reply; I Zoom, but not everyone joins. It’s frustrating.
In a few ways, it has made making connections and building relationships easier. For those students who are able to jump on our daily Zoom meetings, the focus is on fun, checking in on one another, and being silly. Oh sure, we throw in some reading and some other content here or there, but the main focus is checking in on each other. I’m no longer placing educational demands on them, so many students are more willing to connect in this manner.
But then there are the equity issues that I have no great answers for. Many kids I am most worried about aren’t able, or just don’t come to the online meetings. They aren’t doing the optional learning activities, or even responding to calls or emails in a consistent manner.
Worry is a normal teacher emotion.
I’ll be honest. I have always worried about my kids, a pandemic has not changed this fact, but it has amplified it quite a bit. I know some still don’t have reliable access to the internet that others have. Some of my students have parents helping at home and others do not. Some might be in charge of younger siblings, or cousins, while their parents are trying to work in or outside the home.
I worry. I lose sleep over those who need school in their life for safety, stability, structure.
We are all just doing our best. And I want you to know, dear parents, that you are doing enough by keeping your kids safe and loved.
Yes, encourage them to read, try what you feel comfortable doing as far as suggested learning, think outside the box, and teach life-skills like cooking. Just know that we as teachers will do our jobs again (as originally designed, in a real classroom) someday soon, and we will close those learning gaps then. Don’t you worry.
We love your kids like we love our own. We are missing those kiddos so very much. In fact, we may be missing those ornery trouble-makers even more than we care to admit because we are teachers.
We didn’t want this…none of us did. But we will all get through this and maybe even come out on the other side with a whole new perspective and appreciation for our education system because of it.