My school was in a half-day model for students beginning in October, 2020. We all know why, and I will not write the reason in this post. If I even mention a certain word that rhymes with “bandemic,” the post will be flagged with links and fact-checks, and this post is not even about that word. We all know what caused students to learn from home beginning in March, 2020.
We slowly phased grade levels back to school as restrictions were lifted and capacity limits allowed. When our governor said we could bring up to 75% of our capacity back to school, we brought back as many as wanted to be there. When the full day option was finally available, an additional 65 children were able to return to school. This is about 8% of our entire student population. Eight percent of our students were unable to return in a half-day model because it did not work with their parents’ work schedules. They had to sit at home staring at a Zoom screen for almost a year before they could return to school. This post is for all the students and their parents- those who are still sitting at home and those who have returned. I want you to know three things from this year.
1. We have missed you
2. We would have brought you back if we could have
3. We are very proud of all the students and grateful for their parents
Oh, How We Missed You!
The thing with teachers and everyone in a school is this… we really enjoy working with and helping kids. You brighten our days, give us purpose, and remind us how we all should be. The laughter you bring to the building, the curiosity you bring to the lessons, and the kindness you bring at the moment we always need it most keeps us going. Educators are a unique group of people who live to do what they do for a living. In fact, it is hard to separate our personal identity from what we get paid to do. Most of us live to teach and help kids, and when the kids were not in the building, we faced somewhat of an identity crisis. You help us feel alive and worthy of our calling. You make the job worth doing and although we felt we were doing what we could to help you while you were at home, it was not the same. We missed the smiles, the high fives, and especially the moments we could see you “got it” after struggling with a concept. We missed being teachers as we had always known, and we missed each one of you.
We Wanted to Bring You Back
There were so many factors contributing to having students learn from home that were out of our control. Most of the teachers and administrators wanted students to be back in school with them. Decisions were made above our heads that stopped us. The majority of surveys I have seen indicated that around 75% of teachers wanted to be back in the classroom with their students all year.
We are Proud of You and Grateful for You
Students, you did what nobody dreamed was possible or necessary until March, 2020. Whether it was your first year of school, your last year of school, or somewhere in between, you persevered and finished a tough year. Then you continued the next year to go through school in unprecedented forms. It was one thing to finish a year online, when you already had a relationship with your teachers and knew the lay of the land. It was another thing to begin a school year entirely outside of the classroom and learn routines, procedures, personalities, expectations, and concepts without stepping foot in the classroom. We cannot imagine navigating this as a child, and you did it. You tried your best in whatever circumstances you found yourself. None of us had to do that as a child. We don’t know what you went through to try to learn and to keep up. We may never know the extent of your struggles, but we will have a tremendous amount of respect for all you did to keep going and to stay on top of your studies. We are very proud of you.
Parents, like the students, you had to do what no other parent has had to do before you. You invited us into your living rooms, kitchens, and home offices to help your children learn. You saw, heard, and felt the struggles. Although I hate the phrase, I must admit, “The struggle was real.” You may have enlisted the help of other family members, neighbors, or friends to make it work for your child, and you did all you could to navigate this new way of learning. I hope we do not have to return to this type of learning anytime soon, but if we must, we know we can make it work. We know your children are your greatest treasures, and you gave all you could and gave up as much as you could to help your children through this time. We admire you and are grateful for you. You made it possible for us to even have a chance to carry on and try to teach. Your children will always remember the sacrifices you made and the help you gave them. It was not easy, and you powered through to help them succeed in the face of one of the greatest obstacles to education, childhood, and life our generation may ever experience. Thank you.