Today was day 3 of our teacher back-to-school workweek. We are preparing to welcome students back in a few short days. We often joke about how teacher tired is real this first week back. Well, this school year teacher tired is multiplied by at least 1,000.
First, we have been physically absent from our buildings longer than usual. Second, it is hard to focus on what we do best-connect with students. We are spending a portion of our time strengthening our teaching skills. However, the impact of the COVID pandemic is also fighting for our attention-new procedures/changes in routine/guidelines.
Both areas of focus are necessary, but the combination is exhausting and overwhelming.
While being back with colleagues is encouraging, it is also challenging. I see the looks in teachers’ eyes. Excitement mixed with uncertainty. A hesitation that is difficult to label.
On Monday, I saw one of my favorite fourth-grade teachers entering the gym. I have not seen her since March. I know she has been busy advocating for students and families in our school community. I also know she must be exhausted.
My first instinct was to wrap her up in a big hug. One of those hugs that say, “I see you. It’s going to be ok.” However, I could not do that. I stopped myself.
The internal conflict was immediate and stifling. That is only one experience with one colleague on the very first day back. What will it feel like when it is hundreds of students? Students that are nervous, anxious, excited, scared… greeted only with a smile from my eyes and a kind word. Will that be enough?
I am not sure I will be able to follow those guidelines.