I don’t know who else needs to hear this right now, BUT I SURE DID. So I am going to return the favor and tell you. Teachers, you are STILL enough. Whether or not you are making videos, bitmoji classrooms, or researching every available technology for this fall, you are enough. For some people, doing these things is what they need to do right now. For others, it is not. Both of those choices are ok. It is great if you are doing those things, and it is great if you are not. I am not doing those things. And I am enough. And you are enough, especially if you are doing what you need to do to take care of yourself, before another semester of teaching in an actual worldwide pandemic begins.
Last week I found out that we would be going back face to face, with a hybrid model, 50% of the students at a time. Our students will be in school for a week, and then home for a week, with at home students logging on synchronously. I thought it would invigorate me to know, but instead it has me stressing.
I am feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the coming school year. I’ve been having back to school nightmares. I have been short with my kids, and especially my poor husband. I cry easily. But this just isn’t me. I think that many, if not most, teachers are feeling this way right now.
Teachers, it is OK if you are feeling overwhelmed and have anxiety. Every single time I tweet about feeling this way, I have many replies of teachers feeling the same way. So I believe that many more of us feel this way, probably ALL of us. My school is working hard and doing a great job getting us back. We will be 50%, have masks, swivls, and so much support. And yet I still feel this way. And that is ok. It does not mean that I don’t love my job or my students. It does not mean that I am not a good teacher. In fact, I think it is the opposite. It is because I love my job and students that I am worried. I want to do the best job for them, but I feel like I don’t have a complete handle on what I need to do in the fall. And honestly, I may not know until I start actually doing it. I have not done hybrid teaching before, so I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know best practices. And I have a new prep this year. I feel like a first year teacher again. And that is uncomfortable, and scary, especially for an experienced teacher.
I love my work. I have spent most of my summer working through the material for my new prep. And usually, I am especially invigorated and industrious this time of year, right before school starts. But I hadn’t planned for how I am going to teach remotely or hybrid, as I didn’t know what we were doing until last week. As soon as I found out that we were going hybrid, I went to teacher Twitter to ask for suggestions. I got so many wonderful suggestions that I was almost immediately overwhelmed, as I had not done most of the things that so many people were suggesting. I felt paralyzed.
I am reading about teachers who have spent their summer making video lessons for the entire year. I am in awe of the creative bitmoji classrooms I keep seeing everywhere. Other teachers have already used Classkick, Jamboard, Whiteboard, SeeSaw, Flipgrid, One Note … I have done some of these things, but not all of these things, and it makes me feel that I have not done enough. I makes me feel like I am not near enough.
But as Sara VanDerWerf and Elizabeth Statmore recently reminded me, I AM enough. And you ARE enough too. They reminded me that in these unprecedented times we cannot expend our energy comparing ourselves to other teachers. Just like in pre-pandemic times, we do not have to do ALL of the things to be enough. Self-care, kindness, and support to each other is what we ALL need to get ourselves mentally ready for this unusual school year. So then we can figure out how to do the things that work best for our classrooms.
I am also scared about getting sick, or one of my students or colleagues getting sick. I haven’t seen my parents since February, as my dad is an 80 year old diabetic, so I’m being cautious. And once I go back to school, I definitely won’t be able to see them. I’m sad. I am so, so sad. I miss my parents. I miss my old life. I don’t like wearing a mask, but I always wear one. I’m so mad at people who don’t wear masks. I’m upset about many things right now.
So please teachers, give yourself a break right now. Hug your family. Take long walks, or do what ever it is that brings you peace. Breathe. We have a busy fall in front of us, and we need to be rested in order to be ready. When the time comes, we will do an incredible job for our students, like we always do, even if we have to work many extra hours each day. We are professionals. Trust yourself. We have got this.