A Letter from a Principal to his Teachers During Covid
Just a quick note to say I love you. I love what you are doing. I love how much your hearts care for our children and our future! You are amazing!
And I see you! I see your pain. I see your frustration. I see you waiting to give up.
Now, Right Off the bat I want to acknowledge who this letter is to - it says TEACHERS and I want to clarify that TEACHERS are anyone who works with students for the students own personal growth.
That means parents. That means teacher assistants, cafeteria workers, janitors, secretaries, and all those who help make the education of students possible! And of course it also means career teachers - those special people who are certified and paid by the state to be the PRIMARY delivery system of learning to our children - those whose job description is literally TEACHER.
Everyone helps to teach and improve kids in a variety of ways, and especially career teachers who are tasked with being the LEAD teacher in that system. So off the bat - WE ARE ALL TEACHERS in different ways if we work for the betterment of kids. 😁
So this is a letter to all of you - we all have different roles to play, and it is all necessary 😊
So here we go.
Hey Teachers - How are you? Are you ok?
I MEAN, I'M not ok, so I assume many of you are also NOT OKAY.
I see you teachers working hard every day. I see you struggling. I see you coming into an empty classroom to teach a lesson to kids you can't even see. I see you putting physical and mental WORK into trying to engage and get the attention of students from what seems like miles away and underwater. When we struggle to plan and craft a strategy of learning, and then in complete isolation try to cast our line out into complete darkness, not being able to see or grasp whether it actually worked or not, it starts to feel hopeless. Every action seems Useless. Blindly casting about is an act of desperation, and when we start to feel hopeless and desperate it's easy to start feeling depressed. I see that. I feel that. Don't lose hope.
Depression can be defined as feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep.
Despondency (because I had to look that one up too :) is defined as a state of low spirits caused by loss of HOPE or COURAGE.
I see losses of hope and courage within school workers and parents right now. Parenting and teaching children is an incredibly stressful endeavor - children are arguably the most valuable resource we have, and the care and cultivation of the adolescent human brain is not a clear cut task. Working with kids you can easily second guess every choice you make. Constant doubt that you're doing the right thing for that individual's mind and soul.
Faced with that amount of importance placed on our task - caring for the future of the human race - parents and teachers (ALL TEACHERS) can start to feel that despondency - when we don't see what we're doing as working. When we are unsure we aren't making a huge mistake in their education. We lose hope. We lose courage. We lose faith.
The longer we stay in a distance learning model, the longer we stay in quarantine mode, I'm afraid teacher (parent, everyone) depression, despondency will continue to grow. I see you struggling with it. I see that. I feel that. Don't lose hope.
I also see you coupling that depression with anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
Can we all agree we've had our full fill of uncertain outcomes this year? It seems that EVERYTHING is uncertain, all the time. I'm not certain about what's going to happen in the next hour, not to mention the next few days weeks or months. We are in such an uncertain time we feel it vibrating in our bones.
I see you TEACHERS - teachers and parents and school workers and grandparents - SO WORRIED about what's going to happen with our kids! Is this pandemic going to change their lives forever? Will the lost learning keep them from achieving their dreams? Will our society ever be the same again?
How am I even going to teach them to READ right now, during Covid? How am I going to teach them to ADD numbers without moving the counters in front of them? How am I going to teach them to WRITE if I can't guide their hand on the pencil?
We've got Depression over the hopeless-ness of our task. We've got Anxiety we aren't doing it right. And we are WORKING OUR BUTTS OFF doing it. I see that. I feel that. Don't lose hope.
Don't lose hope, because I ALSO see the hard work. I see the back breaking intensity you're putting into the work online, the synchronous (in person) video ZOOMS where you at least actually get to talk to your kids again. I See the days and nights spent talking to them and giving them feedback and support. I see the phone calls or zoom meetings slowing walking a kid or a parent through the steps they need just to restart their device, or log back into their online classroom. I SEE THAT TOO! I see the effort and sweat and tears and smiles.
I see it all. And it gives me even MORE hope!
What is hope really?
Hope is a feeling of expectation
Hope is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Right now I see the teachers of our children feel as if their whole world has been taken from them. They've lost a little hope (as have I from time to time). But I want to help you get it back just a little bit. I want to extend to you a gift of HOPE.
I believe when you feel ALL is lost, there is still HOPE. HOPE can never be lost. It exists inside you, so it is in many ways a CHOICE to lose it or not.. As long as you keep a feeling of future expectation, of something magical, something miraculous - you can keep HOPE.
You may feel you do not have the capacity to expect future magic. I hear your inner voice saying "yea, but...I don't feel hopeful. I don't think it's going to get better. I have to hope or expectation for the future. How can I manufacture HOPE when I have none?"
Step 1 - look next door. Look to your left and your right. Look to your friends, family, students parents, kids, neighbors, your kids' teachers - LOOK AROUND! I have hope because I SEE HOPE IN YOU!
I have HOPE because my hope springs eternal from WATCHING YOU and all the other teachers out there! Watch other teachers and the hard work that I see!
Watch your fellow teachers smiling when they greet their kids for morning meeting. Using their own pets at home as engagement tools. Taking their class on tours of an apple orchard via zoom since the field trip was cancelled. All the parents putting in the time to come to the school to get materials for their student, or to get their device fixed for the third time this month. Watch the para pros and the janitors and the secretaries coming in to the school and the dedication of their daily task to make sure learning can still happen. Look around!
If you see it too, it will give you HOPE.
Right now, Hope is all we have.
We are warriors in the fight to keep our future children alive. We know education is the key to a good life. We must be vigilant warriors in that battle. Our greatest weapon is our HOPE.
Don't lose that weapon.
Keep fighting the good fight warriors. We shall prevail.