Below are my thoughts after one year teaching through the pandemic. As a writing exercise, we were asked as teachers what we had learned through the experience. In my opinion, two years later, it sill holds up and summarizes nicely how I felt and continue to feel. Originally published on the Saginaw Bay Writing Project (SBWP) website, you can find a link to the original piece below. I’ve only corrected minor errors here.
What did I learn about myself as a teacher over the past year? First, I clearly understood just how fragile our everyday lives are – students, teachers, and administrators alike. Most people seem to have underestimated the power of their daily routine, their “normal.” I certainly did. Second, I learned just how much I continue to not know. I am still learning how to teach effectively online. Finally, I learned how to focus on what truly matters.
As 2019-2020 was my first full-year teaching, I continue to feel robbed. Plans for March is Reading Month, field trips, and so much more – all gone. Memories with my first 6th grade class never made. The little things still haunt me. I am a big believer in class read-alouds, and when we shut down for the school year in March 2020, I was in the middle of the first Percy Jackson book: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. My 6th graders adored the book, and I still regret the fact that I was unable to finish the book with them in-person – or continue the series.
If I still feel this way a year later, I can only imagine how my middle school students felt and continue to feel. There appears to be little to no concern regarding the impact prolonged shutdowns can have on emotional, social, and academic well-being. It just doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. Somewhere along the way, we lost our humanity. We, educators and students alike, are not alright.
As we entered the Lenten season this year, memories of last year came flooding back. On Friday, March 13th, 2020, as I participated in the Stations of the Cross with my students, we learned that we would not be coming back to school. Little did we know that we would not finish the year. The uncertainty, the miscommunication, and the worry will always stay with me. At the time, no one had any answers, only an endless list of questions.
During the lockdown, I worried about every single one of my students. Would they fall behind? How would they survive without seeing friends on a daily basis – or ever? I also learned what I didn’t know. No one taught me how to teach online. Yet, that is exactly what I did. I was not prepared last spring. When my class was quarantined this fall, I was still not fully prepared. Only now, in a virtual week built in after spring break, am I now beginning to feel as though I can somehow teach online. It took over a year.
I can’t imagine trying to navigate it all without faith. When I talk about faith, yes, I am referencing a higher power, but I am also referring to a general faith that everything will work out in the end. No matter where we are today as educators and students, there is hope for tomorrow. All hope is not lost. We can and should do better. We will. If given the choice between faith and fear, I choose faith.
This is a great article, Lindsey. You should submit it to many more places! More writing from everyone about personal experiences during the pandemic is needed. It’s an exercise in healing. You’ve prompted me to write my story, especially since I haven’t even processed what it is yet. I love how you weaved into the concept of faith. Your story is about enduring a difficult time and coming out of it with hope. I didn’t realize it was your first year of teaching. Wow! And now teachers are given training on how to teach online, a necessity perhaps for the next possible crisis. Great job.
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Thank you! I’ll search for some other places that are collecting stories about the pandemic.
A year after 9/11, I wrote about my experience as a 20 year old study abroad student in Quito, Ecuador who had just arrived a few weeks before. It is in a digital archive for writing related to 9/11.
As always, thank you for the encouragement!
I went to Quito, Ecuador in 2006. I LOVED it. I need to dig out my photos from that trip. I also went to the Galapagos from there, and then onto Peru and Machu Pichu. I found that part of the world magical, especially the music! South America has so many treasures and places to explore!
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Absoloutely! I traveled to the Galapagos during my semeseter in Ecuador. The entire experience was incredible.
Machu Pichu is definitely on my bucket list!