Teaching During the Pandemic

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School is on break and the daunting thoughts of the next quarter envelope me. My chest is tight and my sleep is limited. Panicked thoughts flood my mind as the start date rapidly approaches. Is this a bit dramatic? Probably. But this is where I am. The struggle is real ya’ll!

What is to be a time of self-care and a bit of family catch-up is overshadowed by the looming thoughts of my return to the classroom. Functioning in a harsh reality that seems to have no official end date.

“Jacob put your mask on”. 

“Check your line…social distance”. 

“You may not touch someone else’s device”.

“Two to a table”. 

“No basketball at recess”. 

“No group work or partner work until further notice”.

“But Mrs. Biro, I’m only trying to help…” I know honey. Aren’t we all? 

The shaken realization that this new “normal” seems to be accompanied by a “forever and ever Amen”. 

And let’s talk about equitable education. How do we begin addressing the achievement gap we’ve worked diligently to rectify? I want my students in school. This gives me peace in knowing they are given the resources they need to thrive. They are given the tools they need to break generational cycles of poverty and in many cases, change a trajectory. I see you, parents. But I am sure that a Zoom discussion on converting decimals to fractions was not exactly what you signed up for. 

But then I don’t want them there… I want them healthy. I want them to be a part of the solution toward “flattening the curve”. This mental banter is putting me on the charts for a new mental health diagnosis that I did not realize I had. 

It’s Sunday. Thank God for early morning coffee and prayer. I am contemplating my next move. Not just as a teacher, but in life. This is not what I signed up for. But I guess I am not alone. Am I selfish because I just do not want to do this anymore? I just want to run (or walk…quarantine weight is real!). I want to run to an island where the reality of COVID is taken seriously. Preventative measures are followed and self-care for those contracting this horrible illness is readily accessible. Does this place even exist? I long shut off the television as my mental health could no longer handle the political debates around the economic impact of COVID versus the “I have COVID now what do I do?” 

My eyes are on the prize. 2021. It has to be better right? I just don’t know friends. We do not yet have answers on how we move beyond where we are today. Or maybe we do, and we are just a group of folks that do not enjoy being told what to do. In the meantime, I wait. What I do know to be true is that there can be hope in the waiting. Hope can come from just knowing that I am not alone. My teacher friends feel me. My mama friends feel me. My friends who wait patiently to hold their parent’s hand on the other side of the glass get it…I know you feel me. I know you see me. I see you. Let us not become weary for in due time we will move past this. We have to. 

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