My first year teaching middle school was …well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I had spent my teacher prep program determined I was going to be a high school English teacher. Students would love discussing literature as much as I did, and would turn in glorious essays filled with thematic connections, thoughtful historical references, and eloquent rhetoric.
And then I started teaching 7th graders.
7th graders cared for none of those things. They cared about social pressure, and puberty, and where to sit at lunch. Everything I thought I knew about teaching and learning had to be left at the door. These students, the ones in front of me, wanted, maybe even needed, to learn about navigating life. Literature would have to wait.
I made a lot of mistakes that year. Mistakes in classroom management. Mistakes in what I assigned and how. Mistakes in assuming that all students should be able to complete homework every night. Mistakes in thinking that sending a kid to the office would solve behavior issues.
But I learned. And got better. And grew to love middle school so much more than I ever thought I’d love teaching high school. But it took time. And patience. And reflection. And a lot of self-forgiveness. And forgiveness from the students, too, at times!
And that’s where you come in…
If you’re like most educators in our country, you’re at home right now. Trying to figure out how to teach in this new frontier. It’s like the first day of the first year of teaching all over again. And it probably feels that way every day that you wake up. A bizarre Groundhog’s Day movie in which you star.
But unlike the first day of the first year of teaching, you may also have your own children with you, needing attention, help with schoolwork, or just reassurance that the world is okay.
You’re probably concerned about your elderly family members, or neighbors, and wishing you could visit them.
Or worried about just how many squares of toilet paper should be used per visit to maximize the rolls you have tucked away in the closet.
Perhaps you’re stressed because your significant other is also working from home now. Or has to still go to work and be amongst the virus. Or worse, can no longer work at all.
Regardless of where you are, you’re carrying a huge load on your shoulders. There’s pressure to be successful in this new environment.
But success takes time. Time we don’t have right now.
So please, give yourself grace and know that you’re doing your best.
If that means you are making paper packets, awesome.
If that means you’re hosting a Zoom call for 100 students in your jammie pants, sweet!
If that means you’re learning Google Classroom 10 minutes ahead of your students, amazing!
If that means you’re creating lists of resources for other teachers and parents to use, cool beans!
If that means you’re creating a color-coordinated hourly schedule for your family, or you’re hating the people who have made the color-coordinated schedule, carry on my friend!
And if that means you need time away from everyone to scream into a pillow, or take a quiet walk, or just step away from the insanity, please do it!
You got this!
And we got each other!!
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