Last school year ended like the scene in Titanic when the old lady drops the Heart of the Ocean into the water instead of selling it and leaving the millions of dollars it was worth to her next of kin. It was disappointing.
You sent your students home for Spring Break and they were never yours again. Sure, you Zoomed and emailed and maybe even sent snail mail, but it wasn’t the same.
Summer passed and nothing got better.
Then August came and you rallied. Everything looked different and you scrambled to learn about new web sites and to take your worksheets digital and to arrange your classrooms with as much care as always, but this time taking into account social distancing.
You scoured stores for Clorox wipes and bought hand sanitizer with your own money. You went to trainings to become experts on new apps, only to have them discarded the next day. You met your new class virtually or from six feet apart wearing masks but you showed up and you smiled. You watched those masked up faces walk in the first day. They were seeking comfort and familiarity. They craved safety. You were stressed and sad and even angry but you smiled. You made them feel safe. You fell in love with those faces just like you do every single other year.
You answer emails and calls from frustrated parents and you’re frustrated too, but you shove it down and you explain how to open Canvas again. You field our questions about software errors and you could just send us to tech support but you spend your too-short planning period trying to fix it for us instead. We complain that kids can’t write on the iPads and you show up the next day with a class set of styluses. You show us grace even when we don’t return the favor.
You lose sleep trying to figure out ways to make all the exciting games and activities you had planned translate to iPads and you nail it. The kids have a blast AND they learn, and then the next day it flops. But you try again. And you keep smiling.
And guess what! The kids don’t feel your stress. Everything you are doing is shielding them from feeling the enormity of all of this. They’re excited to learn new technology, they can’t wait to show you their new mask, they are making friends and playing and learning. You are selfless and brave and that lets them be the carefree students they were before. We owe it all to you, and we are so lucky you are here.
So if I can make copies, staple packets, show up with Starbucks or send flats of Clorox wipes to ease some of the burdens you are shouldering, I will. I will show up in all the small ways I can so that you know someone has your back.
You are doing amazing things and I am so incredibly grateful.