This is not your typical “grieving teacher” post. Trust me, I have grieved. Hard.
…but today, I reported to my classroom for the first time since March 12, 2020. It’s almost time to close up shop for the summer.
As I approached the doorway, I couldn’t help but notice the “Pandemic Cleaning Checklist” that hung on the door. I pulled my mask down so I could anxiously exhale and clearly view the steps our custodians took to make the environment safe. Then, I turned the key and entered.
Everything else was just as we had left it. The setting was eerie, in mildly post-apocalyptic way.
Lucas’ handwriting greeted me from the whiteboard — in bold purple marker, it reminded me of his campaign to be my favorite student.
Our field trip bus request and permission forms peeked out of a yellow folder I had prepared for an upcoming special event I had planned with some of my teacher soul-sisters from other districts.
A few leftover Class of 2020 t-shirt order forms puddled up on a student desk near mine.
I quickly sprayed the markerboard and wiped it clean. I tossed the order forms and the field trip folder into the trash. Many other stacks and bundles followed. I purge. It’s what I do to put the past in the past.
For over six weeks, I have maintained communication and connection strictly through digital means. I have driven past homes, honking and waving at precious friends in their yards and I have briefly chatted with my parents in their driveway when I dropped off supplies.
Folks, it is not the same. You can see the proof in the photo on the left. That woman has had limited real human interaction for the last month.
Do you see the fear in her eyes?
Do see the darkness?
Now look at the face on the right. That face is relaxed, smiling, and glowing. That is the face of a teacher who is back in her element, hitting reset, reflecting, and making plans for the future. It’s the countenance of a woman who spent just a few minutes chatting eye to eye with colleagues in the high school hallways. These images were taken just a couple of healing hours apart. Clearly, face-to-face interaction is a steroid, and we all need a shot.
I am not mourning any longer.
Our students are going to be okay.
We are going to be okay.
We have to allow ourselves to be.
Ready yourself to overcome this.
Plan to put the past in the past.
Prepare to purge the fear.
Get ready to glow!!