My school year has come to an end...finally, and quite honestly, I am currently running a gamut of emotions about it all. The following best describes how I feel about this past year:
- Was this year ideal? ABSOLUTELY NOT IN ANY WAY!
- Did I "lose" many students in this digital setting whom I probably wouldn't have in a regular, face-to-face setting? ABSOLUTELY!
- Did I experience frustration in administrative policies during this pandemic? ABSOLUTELY!
- Did I have a clue of what I was doing in the classroom? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
In the moment of it all, these past 10 months have been SO HARD as a teacher, because I have never had to do something like this before while simultaneously also adapting to a pandemic. There were so many times where I wanted to leave the world of education during this and questioned my role as a teacher.
BUT when I take a step back from it all and truly reflect on these past 10 months, I am absolutely amazed, because quite honestly, I got through it. As I have said before, there is only so much which I can control, but I can control my own actions and reactions. And if I do not look for the positives in all of this, then I will become bitter and will not be able to move on, since I will still be stuck in this moment. I need to celebrate my victories here (because they certainly do exist in this situation) so that later on, I can reflect back on this and realize that this situation has created a foundation for me and has prepared me for future "get-through-its."
Quite honestly, I have learned that life is a continuous series of "get-through-its," of which some are small, some are large, some are daily, some occur sporadically, and some are long-term. As much as we want to deny this, no one is every going to be immune from any type of trial, tribulation, or suffering. But I am learning to "welcome" (and I use that word loosely with much hesitancy) "get-through-its," because trials, tribulations, and suffering will show you exactly of what you are made. If you allow them, trials and tribulations will cause your own personal shortcomings and faults to come to the surface. Covid caused everything to come to a standstill for me as a teacher and to take a long look at how I was reacting, to give up control over so much of this, to throw out that which was chaff, and to make firm that which needed to remain. I also know that I will have a TON of "get-through-its" in my future, so I may as well accept it.
That is why it is important for me to look back at my "got-through-its" and to celebrate my victories as a teacher this year:
- I did the best that I could in light of the situation, and very early on, I resolved to be an "adequate" teacher this year. As a result of those self-imposed boundaries, I felt so free from any internal pressures and self-imposed expectations which I would place on myself as in past years.
- I was truly stretched as a teacher this year in how to teach concurrently and to adapt my curriculum to this weird, hybrid learning environment, but wow, I learned just how "stretchable" I am. Because this pandemic situation has been so fluid these past 15 months, so has teaching. However, much like muscles adapt to more weight over time, I have learned that my borders of what I am capable are so much further than they were previously.
- Apparently students got something out of my class, as these past few days, I have received a great number of emails and Remind messages from students, thanking me for being their teacher this year. Honestly, pre-Covid when we were 100% face-to-face, I rarely received any type of thank-you message at the end of the year, so I am cherishing these.
- Back in July, I truly did not think that I would be able to do this. Fast forward ten months later, and it is over. There is a sense of accomplishment and joy in that. I got through it.
This summer I do not want to think about anything academic or lesson planning for next year. I need time to heal. I need time away as a teacher. I need some space from education.
So for those of you who have yet to finish the school year, it is almost over, and the end is in sight. I completely understand and empathize that you feel emotionally raw and wounded, and so many of those wounds are still hemorrhaging. And as you drag yourself towards that finish line, clawing into that ground with every ounce of strength, I will be there cheering you on with this simple message: you can get through this.
As you reflect on this past year, what victories can you celebrate?