The ZOOM Life
Thoughts of an Elementary School Teacher
June, 2020 - Issue #189

All of a sudden, I was without my people.
Words do not adequately express the emotional impact that the pandemic has had on this teacher - and I know I'm not alone. Teachers nationwide are in the same boat.
Simply - we miss our kids.
Not being with my class every day is taking a mental toll. I worry a lot about my kids. How is this affecting them academically and socially? Are they getting outside enough? Does every student have access to the internet and technology? Are they still able to have breakfast and lunch? Will the connection I have with my learners suffer? How can I maintain it through a screen?
There is a giant hole in my heart where 25 kids and many adults should be. Not being able to give my kids a hug, pat them on the back for working hard or give them a high five when the "lightbulb" comes on is killing me. I've seen them grow, change and develop into these awesome little people who will rule the world one day - and not being there now is so, so hard.
And I'm worried about my kids' parents, too; they are now filling the role of both parent and teacher without the benefit of years of education and mentorship. I want to give each of them a hug (I miss hugs!) and tell them that they're doing an amazing job. If you're a parent balancing school with pandemic life right now, don't ever doubt yourselves. You know what your kids need right now better than anyone else. And - you're in good company. We teachers also struggle to find the correct link to that meeting we were supposed to be in five minutes ago - and we can't remember what day of the week it is, either.
As hard as it has been to get started with online learning, I'm dreading the end, too. Right now, we should be celebrating the end of another successful school year with a heavy pinch of sadness, knowing our kids are moving onto the next grade. I should be there as they conquer their fears about moving up a grade - some of mine, to junior high - and see them realize that they are really ready and will be successful.
The same really can be said of this entire experience. We've conquered our fears about online learning. We've done it! And we've gotten our sea legs. We really are ready to move on - and we're ready for what's next! As for being successful - we got through in one piece. It was a tough lesson, but I'm glad we had the chance to learn it together while we were apart.
Alan Kingsley is a fourth/fifth-grade facilitator at SCVi in Castaic with 13 years of classroom experience as both a paraprofessional and a general-education facilitator. When he's not teaching, he is traveling for national kickball tournaments and can be found on the couch hanging with his furkids and partner.

What I Want Every Learner to Know Right Now
Your teacher is always here for you. Always. We teachers want you to know that it's ok to not feel ok. We're here if you want to talk. We're living through something that will make us stronger, but right now, it can feel really tough. Here's what helps me - and maybe it will help you, too. I think about how good it is going to feel to be back with all my students - and your teacher is thinking the same about you, too. I imagine the joy that will bubble up in my chest when I walk into my classroom and relax, breathe and see my students all together again. Knowing that, one day soon, I'll be able to hug my learners gets me through. We teachers are so proud of what you've accomplished in this crazy time. We'll be together soon. Stay strong, bold and brave! We love you!
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