Who would have thought this year would be like this. I remember it like it was yesterday preparing for this school year getting super excited to start a new grade level and challenging myself to top the year before. I spent countless hours planning out how successful this school year was going to be. I was moved to 5th grade ( I taught 4th last year) and was super excited to experience yet another school year with my amazing students. While I had an entire plan of what this school year would look like, it was nothing like what I expected. This school year has been one of the most challenging school years of my career; even harder than my first year teaching. Many times I wanted to give up. At one point I found myself going in my classroom every day after dismissal, turning off all the lights, blasting gospel music and just crying my eyes out. Can you relate? If not, keep reading just wait. I was overwhelmed and it was a continuous emotion that I felt each and every week. Every day I would pray and remind myself that it is not about what's going on, but it's about my "WHY" and each and every day my students found a way to remind me of that. Even when I found myself ready to throw in the towel, I had to remember that my "WHY" isn't about the chaos that was going on around me, but it's about the betterment of those children I work with each and every day.
As things began to get better and fall into place, we were notified that schools will be closing until further notice, due to the horrific pandemic of COVID-19. Where peace was once restored , I found that chaos & frustration had began to try to make its way back in. So now what? Everything changes! Teachers are forced to teach from home. Students are required to learn from home; many having to learn skills their parents may not be aware of, and the world of education is now forced to go from simply integrating technology to full implementation. Parents are frustrated and many feel like teachers have caught a break. This is far from the truth. Teachers are trying to take care of their health, families, provide quality lessons for their students, continue to keep in contact with students all while juggling the frustrations of an entire year of hard work and building being snatched away in a matter of seconds.
This transition has been extremely difficult for teachers and some of us have literally went through every emotion. It is okay and everything will be okay! For many school districts, state governors have announced that many schools will not be returning to school physically this school year. For a teacher who has amazing relationships with his/her students this can be extremely heartbreaking! While it sucks, everything that is happening is beyond your control. One thing this 2019-2020 school year has taught me is that the school is just a building, what comes out of it comes from you! This takes me back to the epiphany I experienced recently in my educational career, you have to remember your "WHY" isn't about the chaos that is going on around you, but it's about the betterment of those that you work with and inspire each and every day. Life happens, and when it does you can only handle what you can. Don't allow the stresses of the world to come in and steal your WHY! Don't allow the troubles of the world to steal your joy and peace! While this is a frightening time, it's also a time of discovering!
Some educators almost allowed a tough year to drive them out of this profession. Always remember that tough times don't last, but tough people do. I know it may look bad right now but it won't always be like this. Focus on what you can control and don't allow panic and frustration to drive you crazy.
2 Things you can focus on/control
1. Find your Peace:
Taking time to find your peace even in the middle of chaos. As I stated before you're fighting through a pandemic as well. Self-Care is the best care. Even in quarantine, find ways to find your peace.
- Listen to music
- Attend virtual church services
- take a walk (around your yard lol)
- Read a book
-Rediscover your why
2. Do your part for your students
Provide explicit, engaging and intentional assignments for your students to complete while away from you. Provide them with all the adequate resources to function as a learner without you.
- You can't stress over technological issues, or angry parents it's not your fault! This is new to all of us.
- Remain in contact with students and parents weekly, be sure you're available. What are your "office hours". It's okay to be lenient with your hours sometimes but on somedays make those hours non-negotiable. You're fighting through a pandemic just like they are!
- Be sure your students know you have not forgotten about them. Relationships have the power to work wonders! Make sure your students understand that even though you can't stand hand in hand that they still matter to you.