I’m sorry for some of the things I said those last few days we were together in my classroom. I’m sorry for making light of the situation that was erupting around us. I’m sorry for being so hopeful, passing along my belief that we’d be back together in about two weeks. I’m sorry that our last time in our shared space was spent trying to answer questions about how remote learning would work.
And to the students who had already stopped coming into school, for their own or their family’s safety, earlier in March, I am sorry you experienced the illusion of a choice before the rest of us. I am sorry you had even less of a good-bye than your peers who walked out of my door one last time together.
Dear 2019-2020 students who became my first class of remote learners,
I’m sorry for all that we missed together. I’m sorry that some of my favorite parts of the curriculum couldn’t be replicated online.
I hope that what I did teach online was good enough. I hope that you know I was trying my hardest and that trying my hardest was the hardest thing I’ve done in 15 years of teaching.
I hope there was something, at least once a week that I taught or posted or said, that made you feel like this learning was normal, that I was still me, you were still you, but we were just physically apart. I hope I was able to lift your spirits, keep you curious, and deepen your knowledge from afar. This summer, I hope you’re still thinking about something you gleaned from me. And I hope that if you’re in school this fall, you’ll come and say hi to me. I hope we’ll be able to sense each other’s smiles underneath our masks.
Dear 2020-2021 students,
I already miss you. Whether or not I’ve taught you in prior years or whether or not you’re opting to go completely remote, I miss you. I know that sounds bizarre. How can I miss students I may not have met yet or that I may not meet for who knows how long? It’s hard to explain, but each summer, I look at the roster photographs of my incoming students. I wonder what you’ll be like in the flesh. I wonder how you’ll come together as a class. For those whom I’ve taught in the past, I wonder how you’ll have changed and how you’ll have stayed the same.
This year, looking at your pictures is different. It’s almost impossible for me to imagine how I’ll truly get to know you when I may only be seeing you online or masked with half your peers on an infrequent basis. So I miss you.
I miss your presence. I miss your reactions and interactions that happen in real-time. I miss seeing you amidst all of the other students who would have made our class full. I miss knowing what your smile looks like. I miss being the teacher I want to be for you, the one who was more confident than anxious. I miss teaching you in an authentic way that fills my heart and soul. I miss you because we’re all dealing with some form of trauma, denial, recovery, fear, that joins us, yet keeps us apart.
I’m sorry this is the way we are starting the year. I’m sorry I’m no longer that wishfully thinking teacher from March 13, 2020.
I’m sorry that doubt has debilitated the fabric of our classroom community. I hope I’ll be good enough for you. I hope we stay healthy and safe so that the normalcy of learning together in a shared space returns sooner than later.