I have been struggling with getting myself to sit and focus and write lately. The post-treatment for cancer exhaustion and adjustment has hit me hard. I find myself only able to motivate much for teaching. Then I come home and fall, exhausted and depleted, on to the couch.
Friday I was telling my partner as we drove to get dinner how worried I am about children. I’m worried about the children I am teaching now, and I’m worried about the children I haven’t met yet.
We are all in this collective grief experience together, and the layers of new trauma added from Covid and the Covid fallout are not even acknowledged yet. Why? Because we are still living inside of this insanity.
I worry about children perceiving others as “bad” or “wrong,” from what they’ve absorbed in this social distancing era, thus adding fuel to our already divided country. I worry that we will continue to play catch up to so many stages of human development for this generation. This isn’t going away. It’s not about what the children are “missing” from academics. It’s what they have lost from lack of human contact.
So this is what was on my mind as he and I picked up our sushi to go order through a solid plexiglass door. They had a flap cut out to pass food through. It was intense, and appreciated.
I looked at him and said, “this is changing education permanently. Teaching as I knew it is gone. This is what the rest of my career will look like.” Until I said that, I hadn’t admitted to anyone, especially myself, that this had altered my life so drastically. Teaching prior to the pandemic was already fraught with challenge. This brings something none of us know how to process.
All I can hang my hat on is that I need to throw away the old flight plan. Because this is a new situation entirely. Too much has changed to try to adapt the old plan to fit the current way of life.
It’s gonna be bumpy. It’s going to make everyone uncomfortable.
But I’m in this for the children. When I can’t teach children in the way they deserve to be taught, I will leave the profession. When I cannot maintain enough emotional distance between my work and take on the emotional load of teaching too heavily, it will be time to leave the profession. Pandemic teaching has made me keenly aware of how emotionally intense teaching is for me. I am not a half-way person. I cannot teach half-way, I cannot be honest half-way. I am my full way.
It’s been a weight on my mind this year, how deeply this is altering our sense of “reality” and what school “should” be. I just pray we can figure it out as a country, a state, a district, a school, without children being the ones that lose everything again, as they so often are.
Blessings to all of the teachers that are learning to bridge old and new. Blessings to the teachers that are here for the new and making the new its own amazing thing.
I believe in us. We are tiny seedlings. We are the crescent moon.