Some of us started the school year fully remote, becoming first grade teachers, learning how to navigate Google Classroom and Prodigy, or discovering the new way to do division. Some of us had to figure out how to fit a full day of work into a hybrid day of school, with kids spending half the day at home (working with their teachers in 45-minute chunks and then needing help to complete assignments for 15 minutes and then finding the link to the live P.E. class, and on and on until you eventually have to appear on camera wearing a bathrobe because the iPad keeps falling down) with the other half-day on campus behind layers of plexiglass. Some of us had to adjust back and forth between the two through quarantines, snow days, and the plague of locusts that rained down that one day.
OK, that last part didn’t happen, but didn’t it feel like it did?
And then the Magical Day came, a chance to return to school full time. No more choruses of “Mr. M! Mr. M! I have a wiggly tooth!” in the background of your conference call. No more mixing up the At-Home Math folder with the At-School Math folder. No more shifting all in-person commitments to the two-hour window you have while they are on campus. It feels almost normal.
I will be forever grateful to the hundreds of people responsible for keeping my children safe and cared for this school year. Impossible decisions were made daily. There were rallies and protests, and hearings as the community tried to figure out how to handle this thing that no one had ever handled before. Yet, through it all, our educators worked tirelessly to ensure that our kids received the education, attention, and support, that they needed.
Teachers didn’t just work overtime; they worked double-time, navigating both remote and in-person learning, making hybrid lesson plans, sanitizing supplies in their “free time,” listening to concerned (and sometimes scared) parents, and trying to engage their students over a computer screen with spotty WiFi. Nothing I could say could ever really convey my awe and appreciation for you, but I want you to know that I am so thankful to you for keeping my son safe, and for helping to give him the most normal first grade year he possibly could have had.
I know that so many students, educators, and parents suffered this year. My hearts breaks for those who have been navigating loss, struggling with mental and emotional health, and dealing with financial strain. I can only hope that it gets a little easier for everyone sooner rather than later, and that the 2021/22 school year is the most uneventful one ever, in the best way possible.