Being a teacher was never on my radar growing up. Once in a while, I played school where I made myself the teacher in order to boss around (more than normal) my little sister and brother. And it IS possible that during my eleven changes in major as an undergrad, education may have shown up in the mix.
I wasn’t going to become a teacher until I did
But I never seriously considered it.
Until I did.
I’ll skip the details that led me there, but ultimately, I became a high school English teacher and found that I had an affinity for it. I connected with teenagers instantly; their creativity and their angst combined with their openness and their willingness to share drew me to them, and more importantly, them to me.
This is why I am struggling with the upcoming school year. I miss the connection that I lost during the end of the past year. Many of my seniors just drifted away no matter the effort I made to re-connect.
And that frightened me because what I know for sure is that they needed me—many of them—but that face-to-face reality where I could read their expressions and sense their moods wasn’t available even via Zoom.
I am missing the connection with my students
And that’s my true strength as a teacher—CONNECTION.
In a world that has focused on social media connection for all of my current students’ lives, one would think that we could finesse a sophisticated and realistic connection through Zoom, or Google classroom, or Teams. But it’s just not realistic. We need to BE in one another’s presence. There are subtleties that aren’t evident when we are not in close proximity with one another.
BUT, we also need to stay alive.
I am conflicted as a teacher. I wish I could draw a hard line in the sand and say with certainty that there is no other way to teach than in the actual classroom. Or, there is no way effective learning can happen in the classroom because we are all sick with worry. Even as a strong, vocal, and unintimidated professional, I don’t have that loud voice advocating one over the other. And that’s unsettling to say the least.
Summer has not been a break for teachers
Summer vacation is not a vacation. It is a constant flux of back and forth. Because I am not only a teacher, but I am a mother with a daughter going to college for the first time, and another daughter still in high school. I can’t even feel absolute confidence in their education at the moment, let alone in the education of 100 students with diverse issues and concerns.
For me, and I truly believe for most of my colleagues, this summer—this entire year so far—has caused tense shoulders, migraines, ulcers, and many tears without much respite and rejuvenation.
The line in the sand has washed away this summer, and I stand on the shore now more uncertain than as a first-time teacher 22 years ago.
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