Originally when I reached out to Andy about contributing to the mini-blog, I told him I was going to write about the difficulties of starting over as a “veteran” teacher in a new district. Over the past 7 years, I have lived in 3 different states (in and out of New York twice) and have worked in 5 different school districts. It was a perspective I thought others could relate to on some level. It’s one I would have loved to read by the time I started my third school. As I sat down to start typing, everything kept coming back to how I was feeling in the moment- how social distancing was impacting my teaching and the toll it was taking on my mental and emotional wellness.
I’m not okay and that’s okay. That’s all I kept coming back to. Some mornings I was waking up, answering every student and parent email, going on to teacher platforms and taking notes on incredible lessons health educators were posting, and planning how I would make adjustments for my online classroom.
But then yesterday happened.
I woke up with a heaviness I have never felt before in my life. It felt like I was in mourning. The idea of having to interact with my students felt like an elephant on my chest. I decided early that all I could muster was a quick video of me telling them I miss them and love them and that I would be posting updates soon. That was all I could do. I’m sure many of my students saw through the dry shampoo but I had to tell them I missed them. I needed them to know I was there, even if I couldn’t really be there that day.
This has been my internal struggle. Posting assignments where kids watch fitness videos or track their sleep seems so incredibly tone-deaf to me. For the first time in my career, I’m not sure what my role is as a teacher. Most days I don’t even know what type of support I need let along what my students need. In the coming weeks we are all going to be dealing with loss (with some already starting that process). It will finally hit students that many of them aren’t going back. That their last semester teachers, their sports seasons, field trips, and proms won’t be a memory they can look back on in a photo album. They will grieve. I will grieve. And I’m not sure there is a lesson plan that can tackle it.
Casey Langendorfer, Middle School Health Teacher
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