I shared an article on my personal Facebook page the other day that really resonated with me (I will include the link below). It was about how having schools closed right now for the purpose of social distancing is not a “vacation” for teachers. Throughout my 20 year career teaching English, I have faced many difficult situations, but nothing prepared me- or any of us- for this.
Yes, I am home in the comfort of my own house, wearing pajamas for most of the day. I do not have children of my own and I live by myself. It does give me flexibility in my day to binge watch a show for a couple of hours or take a short nap, but I sincerely wish I was at work instead. I miss my school, my colleagues, the routine and my classroom. I truly miss my kids. I have 120 11th graders that I am responsible for every day, not to mention my “formers” (the students I had last year, many of whom I see daily).
I work in a very diverse school district. This means that many of my students struggle in many different ways- some financially, some with social anxieties or other mental health disorders, some with language barriers, some with difficult family situations, some with learning disabilities, some with food insecurity, etc. My school is using distance learning and luckily our students were provided with Chromebooks before the virus began to spread and I have been in touch with the majority of them, whether through our class website or email.
This is not a vacation for me. I am worried about my students- now and in the future. Are they nervous, scared, anxious, worried, confused, alone, eating, sleeping, healthy…? I am a junior class advisor and planned the prom for April. I am waiting for the directive to cancel that. It makes me sad that students will miss out on milestone events in their high school experience. I know a school dance is not important at all right now in the bigger scope of things going on in the world, but to a 16 year old, it kind of still is.
There is so much uncertainty right now and as an adult, I am overwhelmed by the fears and anxieties and stress I feel. I can’t imagine being a child right now. For some of my students, school is the only stability they have in their lives. I worry what kind of lasting effect this will have on their mental health, their future economy, the world moving forward.
Yesterday, we found out the gender of my sister’s baby- a girl! It was so wonderful for ten minutes to celebrate something, to forget about all of the urgent news alerts constantly lighting up our phones. But then it was back to reality…my sister is twelve weeks pregnant during a pandemic and my niece is only two and a half and my father has compromised health and my mother is over 70 and my brother in law was laid off yesterday and I am struggling with agoraphobia and there’s no toilet paper and *deep breath*….
Every opportunity I have to interact with my students I am trying to be as positive as possible. I made funny memes to make them laugh (or at least roll their eyes). I sent a picture of my niece opening the box with bright pink balloons popping out at the gender reveal. I tell them how I am doing with my new “coworkers”, who sometimes annoy me and step on my computer (aka my two cats). I tell them I am here for them…anytime. I reassure them that we are all doing the best we can do right now and that things will be okay. I am doing this for them, but also for myself. I also need to be reminded that this “new norm” will not last forever, that things will go back to the way they were, that we will be okay. It is much harder to convince myself, though.
Here is the article I mentioned above: boredteachers.com/…/covid-19-quarantine-isnt-a-vacation-for-teachers