The fall is quickly approaching with one certainty remaining: This will be a school year unlike anyone of us has ever experienced.
Wherever you are emotionally with this upcoming year, take respite in the fact that you are a person first. As we find our profession once again under scrutiny, challenged for our collective responses to this unprecedented time in our Nation’s history, we must remember that we are humans who decided to teach, not teachers who have to defend our humanity.
After sixteen years of teaching here is what I know to be true of educators:
We want to hold each and every one of our students and reassure them that they are safe and secure.
We want to get back to seeing engagement, those moments where preparation and hard work yield lasting experiences for our students.
We want to see our students conquer and grow in their learning, accomplishing what we always knew they could.
We want to put on our “teachers know best” hats and create lessons and develop curriculum that we believe will give our students the acquisition today that will prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow.
We want to be the daily voice that mends their hearts and reminds each of them that they are more than enough.
There is inevitably a questioning in the national rhetoric that challenges the core of who we are as educators. This is not the first time spotlights have been given to those outside of the classroom to take aim at an institution that is misunderstood and under supported. This country counts on us to do far more than they will admit with far less than any will ever understand. No matter how many complaints or forms of judgement come from people in suits, they know one thing is true: Tomorrow has always rested on the shoulders of an educator.
Whether you are ready to jump in or are questioning your return, I want you to know it is okay to not be okay.
It is okay to be afraid; these are times unlike any in our lifetime.
It is okay to disagree with plans on how or when to reopen; with communities divided, consensus is an impossibility.
It is okay to fear what this new form of school is going to look like; it has never been done before.
It is okay to fear for your health or the health of those you live with; it is not weak or cowardly.
It is okay to feel undervalued and angry; this does not make you selfish.
It is okay to be completely undecided with how you feel; if there were clarity to be given, we would all have it.
Be still. Breathe. Be present in each moment and let faith triumph over fear. Give what you can and have grace with what you must let go. Opportunity lies at our feet. The feet of the people who know best how to take a broken moment and create a future for education that sheds the unnecessary and redefines what is possible.
We are in this together and whether I have to smile at you from under a mask or through the camera of a computer, you will never have to prove how much you love our students. That has been seen every day you gathered your sanity, courage, and love to enter the doors to a world few can understand.
From one educator’s heart to another: I support you, I trust you, I believe in you, and I am grateful for you. Regardless of the differences we might feel and face, we are in this together.
Your Fellow Educator