There has been a lot of talk during this time of quarantine and social distancing in regards to sadness and grief. Of course, people are sad and grieving the loss of loved one, friends, jobs, etc. And I cannot stress this enough; if you have lost someone during this time, I truly send my deepest condolences. At this stage, I know how you feel.
However, this blog is going to be about grieve for the lost lifestyle and routine as a teacher.
My largest sources of grief, the factor that is most time consuming and troublesome, is the fact that New York state has mentioned (Cuomo and De Blasio cannot come to an agreement) that schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. The sadness that I felt when I read the article in the New York Times was equivalent to physical pain. I couldn’t even cry. My stomach hurt, my chest was tight, and I felt like I was being squeezed by a merciless anaconda. I felt all the things at once.
I genuinely love being a teacher, of all ages. I cannot stress this enough. The love I have for each of my students, the love I have for history (especially black and brown history as it pertains to 99% of the students I teach), and the love I have for being a role model and friend to my babies, is something that gets me up in the morning. It makes me feel good and productive. I also secretly have a lot of fun, no lie. So this is why grief set in so hard and quickly when I found out that we more than likely will not return back to school.
We will continue remote teaching for the remainder of the year, which I don’t mind. It’s harder than normal, but that’s fine. Regents are “canceled” this year, which is great because I CANNOT STAND STANDARDIZED TESTING! But the thing that brings grief is hearing the sadness in my Seniors’ voices when they express their feelings about not having prom or graduation; the hurt in their voices that they won’t be able to see their favorite teachers for the rest of the year; the fear in their voices about not being able to see the counseling team or THAT teacher they go to and trust. Managing those feelings is…heavy.
Selfishly, the grief builds when I realized that the relationships that I have built, especially those to leverage and connect with my Juniors that hate school and have trust issues, have largely been washed away by social distancing, school closure, and quarantine. We as teachers all know that for a lot of kids, school is their escape; whether it’s because they trust certain teachers, don’t have the same pressures that they experience at home, or because they feel most successful in school. Whatever the case, I grieve for that loss.
Grief does not mean halt. As a teacher, especially remote teaching, there really is not stopping. My kids need me more during this time than they probably did before. This is a scary time and uncharted territory. I have decided to channel my grieve in ways that help kids, but also help myself. So the lessons keep flowing, the communication has increased, and the transparency is 3 fold. I try to call or text as many kids that I can reach on a regular basis to check in. I try to make the lessons engaging and low lift, while still teaching skills and some content. I try to make sure parents are okay and internet access is stable. But, selfishly, I take time away. I take personal time to grieve and feel sad about the situation that we are in. But not too much time, because I still need to remember and count my blessings.
The majority of my students are healthy. I still get to engage with a lot of them. This situation, as garbage as it is, has made me closer with a lot of my Junior students and my freshman advisory. I am alive and well and able to offer care and service to my babies. I have time to care for myself and make deposits into my self bank so that I can allow my students to withdraw when they need to. I am grateful for the moments when I FaceTime my students, but I am also grateful for the moments when I get to pour into myself, in my own space.
In every situation, especially during this time, we have to find and affirm a more positive mindset. My Affirmation: I WILL pour into myself and do all the things when I feel stressed because I am worth it.
This is my story, this is my journey.
Positivity, Growth, and All the Things,