If I have learned anything over the last few weeks, it is that I crave structure. I need it to be productive. I am slowly working on getting back into some type of routine as everything has shifted over the last couple of weeks. Right now, I’m not even sure what it would look like.
I’d love to put tons of time and energy into my Google Classroom now, but Michigan just closed schools for the rest of the school year. Up until this point, I was unable to assign anything for a grade. I could share things I would like my students to look at and do, but that was about it. I did come across some great stuff that I will be using with my students moving forward. Unfortunately, that is the point. Until we can figure out what distance learning will look like at our school, I’m not sure how we will handle students without out devices and internet access. Hopefully, we will know more next week and will be able to move on from there.
I miss and worry about my students. My heart breaks for my 8th graders who will be heading off to high school next year. Will they be ready? We did not get to send them off in the way they need to be sent off – not yet, anyway. I worry less about 6th and 7th graders. I can put things in place to help us fill in gaps next year. It may not be fun, but it might be necessary. I still miss them though, and they are certainly missing out on so much. When we left school on Friday, March 13th – a day I will never forget – I was in the middle of planning a field trip to the Michigan Science Center and the Detroit Institute of Arts. My 6th graders were also supposed to go to Lansing on another field trip in early May – a field trip that never happened last year. 8th graders are also missing out on their last dance, usually put on by 7th grade. Not to mention track and field day, the last events surrounding Lent and Easter, and the wonderful chaos that is the last week of the school year. Oh, and I could cry when I think of what we had planned for March is reading month, most of which never took place, including Prime Time Live Friday Night (originally slated for that ill-fated Friday the 13th) and a poetry café, among so much else.
Then there are the student council events. I am the student council advisor, and my students pleaded with me to plan an end of year event. A trip to an escape room and laser tag were in the works. We were also supposed to have a carnival for younger students during March is reading month, all sponsored and put on by student council. I’m now trying to figure out how we are going to do elections for next year, which take place every spring. I may be able to come up with something there. The point is that everyone who works in or deals with education day-in, day-out – teachers, administrators, volunteers, staff, parents, and certainly students – lost so much over these last few weeks.
I feel as though that goes double for students in Catholic schools. I am not Catholic, and I do not teach religion, but I know what my students are missing at a time when they could use their faith the most. They need guidance when it comes to faith formation, and that is what they are lacking now. I keep thinking … 20 years from now, how I will I explain these times to my students? There are times when I feel at a loss when I try discussing September 11th with current students who were born longer after 2001.
This is not what I wanted or dreamed for my first full year teaching. It just isn’t. I do hope that next year will bring a “normal” year. During the 2018-2019 school year, those of us in Michigan experienced a record number of “cold”/snow days. Something no one experienced before. Now this. I think everyone could use a return to “normal” at this point.
Then there is the canoe livery. Fortunately for us, we don’t truly begin to get busy until the end of June, early July. August keeps getting busier and busier every year. This time of year, we get things ready for opening on Memorial Weekend. We will see what happens. While we can make some progress, in other ways, it is difficult. For example, I can’t finish ordering our t-shirts and sweatshirts at this point. Would it be wise to do so right now with so much uncertainty? Same goes for other merchandise in our stores.
There are so many summer scenarios that are running through my head. I can’t help but think we’d be especially busy if things start returning to normal by early June. If it is towards the end of June, that might put more pressure on already extremely busy weekends. Should we extend our season? Time will tell.
I do know that I will survive. My family will survive. The canoe livery will survive. We’ve weathered so many storms in the past. I keep telling myself how bleak things looked in 2018 in the wake of massive 100-year flooding due to ice. We made it and came back better than ever. Eventually a path will be made clear, and there will be a new “normal.” We all just need to hold on until then.