Saying Goodbye to the Classroom is Breaking Teacher Hearts Everywhere

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Today, I saw teachers sharing their heartache as we prepare to begin our official and virtual finish of the 2020 school year. I am right there with them.

We were given an hour of classroom access to grab the essentials necessary to finish this year out.

I pulled up to the school to see an empty playground with caution tape wrapped on all the play scapes and equipment. I was admitted through the intercom after “passing” a health screening test. Instead of hugging and chatting with a friend I haven’t seen in ages, I had to wave at her through the office window.

When I turned the corner to my hallway, my heart completely shattered when I saw my classroom door– the door that my students spent their extra recesses creating. They stayed in from lunch to cut, color, and tape because they loved spending time in their classroom with their teacher. I stood there trying to get the key in the lock, shaking, tears streaming down my face.

There was so much excitement planned for March.

Mystery readers, assemblies, book giveaways, spirit days. We had field trips, guest speakers, and stories to hear. Yes, April and May bring about the “dreaded standardized tests,” but I always make the most of it by having them sign my pants at the beginning of the week. Then, I proudly parade around on testing days with my “smarty pants” on. Each morning during testing week, I greet my students with a breakfast feast and music to pump them up.

We still had all the “fun stuff” at the end of May and June to do. We were supposed to gross them out with all sorts of brains for Brain Day. More assemblies, parties, and surprises were planned. We were supposed to do all the fourth grade traditions before they officially became the leaders of the school.

The students I had this year were special.

I love and miss every single one of them. In all honestly, I can say that I enjoyed and looked forward to being with them each and every day. They made me laugh and filled my heart. I remember after the first week with this group, thinking, “dang! I hit the jackpot!” They are full of kindness, happiness, and integrity. We had so much more planned…and it was stolen from us.

I still cannot believe that this is what we are living right now. It still catches me off guard knowing that this is our new “normal.” I’ve gotten letters, phone calls, emails, and messages from students. I’ve done Zoom and Facebook Live with them. It helps, but it’s not the same. They want their old lives back. They want the safety of the classroom. They want to see their friends. They want this to be done and over with. They are missing out on so much and it hurts my heart.

To all of my wonderful teacher friends, I’m sorry your hearts are breaking.

I’m sorry that the job you love has been taken from you. I’m sorry you are left to worry about how your students are doing and if they are getting loved enough. I’m sorry that you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed trying to make this all work. That’s what we do. It’s in our hearts to help.

In the classroom, when the glue spills or the pencil breaks, we fix it and make teachable moments out of it. We will figure out how to do this. We will love those students from afar. We will fix and make teachable moments virtually. That’s what we do.

On Monday, I will teach from my dining room table. I will put a smile on my face, and I will happily be their teacher again.

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