What I will miss about this school year

Yesterday was the last day of school. Thinking back on the last 10 months, I have a confession. Despite limping though most of the school year, I’m going to miss something about it. It took me a long time to realize this, but it sunk in one day while in conversation with my first period class back in May. It was an uneasy realization. It made me uncomfortable at first because I thought nothing about this stressful year was missable. I questioned my feelings. I didn’t want to believe them.

What will I miss? It’s definitely not remote learning. That experience was terrible. There’s no need to unleash my contempt for it now. It has felt my wrath all year. Now is a time for letting go, a time for healing.

I will say this though. Remote learning was a war. It consisted of many battles fought by me and my students every day. Small battles like clicking a link, larger battles like turning in a project. These battles were waged at home, on the bus, at the park, in school, and wherever else we accessed Zoom. It wasn’t merely academic blood that was shed during these battles either. There was social and emotional blood too, blood that is far thicker than any curriculum or lesson or breakout room. Through these battles, through this loss of blood, we fought to learn and make meaning. We fought to understand and persevere. If I’m being real, we fought because we had to.

This warring wasn’t me vs. them. It was never me fighting with students to get them to turn in assignments or show up for class or turn on their camera. Some teachers have felt this way, but I never did. In my eyes, there was only one enemy: remote learning. We were all struggling against it. We were side-by-side in the trenches, fighting together. We all have scars that will leave us changed. No one was exempt from this. Our objectives may have been different based on our roles in the war, but we all had a shared goal of survival.

And that is what I’ll miss. It won’t be the war itself, but instead the companionship and sense of purpose that I shared with my students as we survived it. I’ll miss our collective struggle. I’ll miss our uncompromising laugher in the midst of fatigue, our fierce efforts in the face of hardship, our inexplicable togetherness during a year of academic isolation. I’ll miss being comrades with my students during this once-in-a-lifetime event. When my teaching career is over, it is this subset of students who will hold a special place in my heart. I may not know what they look like, but I will remember them and what we accomplished this year.

Together, we made something out of nothing. Our shared struggle was a light in a year of so much darkness. I’ll miss it.


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