Tomorrow is the first day of the 2020 -2021 school year. I along with many other teachers in Atlanta and other counties in Georgia will set our alarms tonight, get up early, and head to work tomorrow.
My commute – a 10 minute bike ride through Piedmont Park – will be replaced with walking down my stairs to the dining room table where I now work. This year I won’t be enjoying our traditional back-to-school Waffle House breakfast in the cafeteria but instead will have a cup of coffee and maybe a yogurt parfait made with the remaining blackberries in the fridge. Instead of hugging friends and catching up with colleagues about lazy days and summer vacations, I’ll put on my blue lens glasses and log onto Zoom for our back to school faculty meeting.
Friends of mine in different districts will put on masks and report to their buildings having temperatures checked before entering then going to their room to work. No large group meetings, social lunches, or catching up in the workroom. All schools will be different, and these changes weigh heavy on teachers’ hearts.
Y’all know me: I love teaching. But at the end of each summer, I tend to get in a funk mourning the end of days by the pool, summer reading, and hanging out with friends. This year was different though because not only was I saying goodbye to summer, but I was also saying hello to a year that I have no paradigm for. So I allowed myself a little pity party this weekend and tomorrow morning I will fix my face and go to work (albeit at the dining room table in shorts and a Grady t-shirt).
Here’s what your teacher friends are asking of parents and the public:
Be patient as we adapt and adjust to the flood of new procedures that we will be implementing this year.
Forgive us as we will make mistakes.
Assume we have the best interest of our students (your children) at heart.
Allow us space to experiment with new ideas.
Serve, pray for, and encourage us.
Here’s my challenge to my educator friends:
Take time to grieve the loss of a “normal” year then move forward.
Prioritize what absolutely has to be done and don’t beat yourself up over the rest. (Let things that directly impact students drive your priorities).
Take care of yourself.
See this year as an opportunity to grow and rethink education.
Serve, pray for, and encourage others.
When I’m at a loss for words (okay, that’s usually never), I turn to prayer and poetry.
Good Bones by Maggie Smith
There’s one thing I know about teachers: we are resilient. We will get the job done often going above and beyond. We can make something beautiful of 2020.
Finally, know that I’m praying this prayer of blessing over my educator friends this year:
‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’ Numbers 6:24 – 26
Amen and Amen.