I apologize to my classes all the time. I apologize because I can’t be the teacher that I know I am. I apologize because I know they are bored and I HATE IT. I apologize because while I am working my hardest to deliver meaningful, interesting information it is mediocre at best.
I have been teaching hybrid since September. I have a few students physically present in the classroom with me and the rest are at home on a computer. I teach dots on a screen all day long. I don’t know what my students look like. I can’t tell if they are having a great day, or if they are struggling. I feel like a robot, spewing out information with no emotion or reaction. I miss my students. I miss the camaraderie, the laughter, the discussions, and the debates. I miss spotting new haircuts and new sneakers. I miss what my classroom used to look like, tables instead of desks, groups instead of rows. I miss what used to be, but thankful for what I have. I am thankful that kids are forgiving. I am thankful they know I am trying my best and respect me instead of blaming me. I am thankful for students who find the good in a lesson even if they expected it to be better. I never expected how much this pandemic would take a toll on me professionally. I never expected to fear going to work. I never expected to see colleagues break down in tears from the stress of it all. I never expected it would take a year of isolation to realize how much I took for granted.
When I retire (in 2033 -who’s counting), I will remember this year, but this will not be the year that defines my career. This will be the year I learned to slow down and be present in the moment. I learned to not sweat the small stuff. I learned how important health really is, even though I teach about it every single day. I learned that kids really like school even though they say they don’t. I learned that I still really love being a teacher.
In a few weeks, students will have the opportunity to come to school 5 days a week. I can’t wait to welcome them to the classroom even if it is with desks in rows, plexiglass dividers, covered in sanitizer. I can’t wait to hear the laughter again, notice new outfits, and spot the kid that is having a hard day. I can’t wait to see students’ mask-covered faces. I just can’t wait to stop apologizing and be the teacher I want to be.
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Do Not Confuse or Conflate by Carlos Andrés Gómez