Dear teacher working through this pandemic

Last week, I wrote a post which included a letter to myself as a parent. As I stated then, those of you who have been following my blog for a while might remember how I’ve written letters to myself before in order to give myself a little grace: Dear teacher, and Dear mama (who is also a teacher). Last week was just another example. Today, as Manitobans received the word that our classes are suspended indefinitely, I felt the need to give myself another little pep talk, but this week, as a teacher. I have a feeling I’ll be reading this post often, and maybe reading these words will be helpful for you, too. Another week, another letter to try to ease my mind…

Dear teacher pandemic

Dear teacher working through this pandemic,

I know, I know, over the last few weeks, you’ve experienced countless highs and lows. These unprecedented times are just so hard on you because you like routine, stability, and being able to see what’s coming next. It’s not about control, it’s the unknown that makes it hard. And just as you feel you are starting to wrap your head around our new temporary normal (thanks for the perfect term LaVonna Roth, which I heard in Tara Martin‘s podcast, The REAL Journey Show), everything changes and you feel like things are crashing down all around you.

You want what is best for your students. You wholeheartedly believe that the first priority is the physical, emotional and mental health of your learners and their families. Their well being always comes first. Always.

You are torn because you feel like some families want more, while some families are suffocating without even considering their children’s learning. You are trying to meet the demands of a wide range of learners while also considering their home environments.

You are doing the best that you can, but you feel as though that isn’t enough.

You feel as though you are failing your students, and you are failing their families.

You over analyze and dwell on the countless unknowns. You have so many questions, questions you desperately wish you had the answers to. Not only for yourself, but to ease the mind of those you serve, too. You don’t know how to do this, it’s never been done before. And you’re trying to remind yourself that there is a big difference between online learning and emergency remote learning (thanks for sharing, George Couros).

I am here to remind you to slow down. For your own mental health, you need to stop looking so far ahead. Don’t worry about what assessments or end of the year report cards will look like right now, because no one knows. Focus on what’s important. Connect with your students. Love on them. Remind them that you are there, and that you want to see them thrive however that may look for them at home. And also, try to put this to the side and enjoy your spring break, you’ve earned it. Besides, worrying or thinking about this endlessly isn’t going to change anything. And there’s a good chance that there will be answers, at least some of them, by the time this week is over.

I also want to remind you that no matter what, it is not going to be perfect or even near the same as your previous standards… release the pressure for it to be. Jump through the hoop, your less than normal is still better than other people’s best. And who knows, maybe through all of this, more educators around the world will be able to see how change is necessary in education. Maybe they will see how crucial it is for students to learn in meaningful and authentic ways. Maybe this will be part of the good that comes out of all of these struggles.

It’s okay to feel low. It’s okay to feel the emotions that rush through your body when so many unknowns are upon us. Work through them, don’t stay there. Take care of yourself.

Go slow. Take it one day at a time. No need to stress about tomorrow, because by then, things will probably change anyways.

And hey, in case no one has told you lately, you are an amazing teacher. Your best IS good enough. Keep at it, your students and their families appreciate you.

Sincerely,

That same teacher working through this pandemic

A very special thank you to many friends and educators who have checked in on me lately, and especially today. Although I expected this day to come, it still felt like a huge punch in the gut to get the official news that we aren’t heading back to class this school year unless the Minister of Health says it’s safe to do so. I appreciate the uplifting words (some of which are included in this blog post), the encouragement, and the time you took to talk it out. I am grateful for all of you more than you know.

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