I’m blessed to know and love some amazing educators that work in public and private schools all over the nation. I’m also blessed to have some amazing teachers as clients. Today on Facebook, I saw on video, my cousin (band director extraordinaire) give out an award social distance style to a student who earned a district band award. It tugged at me. So much emotion for the student and for my cousin as his teacher.
It made me think about some things that have come up in my work with my teacher clients. Grief. Total grief. Change. Loss. I have yet to really see anyone else address it, so I’m going to here.
When you’re an educator you get blessed with the ability to see a student start in one place and finish in another. The victory of the end of the year, the end of year awards. The congratulatory high fives and handshakes. The last few days of class where you relax and exhale and look at these kids and think of what next year will be for them, where they may go, and what hand you played in it.
No one becomes a teacher for any reason than his or her love of caring, educating, and touching lives. You don’t become a teacher for fame or fortune. You do it for these small golden moments, and this year, the universe had other plans.
This year that end of year stuff doesn’t happen, not in the same way. The beautiful closures that are class parties, award ceremonies, end of year spring concerts, and so much more is gone.
There was no break, no adjustment period, just painful and abrupt change. The shift from connection face to face in a classroom to virtual work puts a strain on even the most personable of people. It exercises a whole different set of emotional and mental muscle, and it isn’t easy. There was no training, no induction, just, “Teach online, good luck!”
Teachers have stepped bravely into that space with vulnerability and courage. I see you. I see that courage, and even if you don’t know it now, your students saw it too. In all the examples and modeling that teachers normally provide, this year too, students got to see you adapt, shift, and gracefully and humanly move through a shared human experience. This will have an impact on this generation of students that we can’t even begin to guess at – but I know all of you have done your very best at managing all the change, and all this grief for what should have been and I know your students were watching.
To my teacher family, friends, and clients, thank you so much for being the pros you are. I see you. I thank you.
Special shout outs to Emily, Janet, Michael, Shelby, Jenna, and Tyler. You guys make the world a better place.