I was quite a curmudgeon for most of this school year. I resigned myself to the fact that I just couldn’t be the “best me”, and I’m sure those of you who powered through the 2020-2021 school year can resonate. My alarm went off at 5:00 am everyday followed by a loud “ugggghhhhh” (sorry to my husband) and I zombied my way to school. The look of my classroom constantly changed- first a hybrid model where I saw two different groups of students (always masked, 6-feet apart) on two different days of the week with no in-person students on Wednesdays so that I could meet with remote students that day. Then a fully synchronous classroom where I literally duct-taped a camera to a student chair and moved it around the room, but still with hybrid students. Then… okay, you get the point. It wasn’t easy.
HOWEVER… we made it to the end and, for me, that’s when I realized that it wasn’t so bad.
Here is where I jump off of my “woah-is-me” soapbox and remember that, as a teacher, no matter what the year brings, we still have these impressionable minds in front of us everyday. And they are paying attention. Maybe not in the same capacity that they are used to this past year, but they did. They watched us stumble through trying to take attendance with all sorts of new and different codes, they reminded us to unmute ourselves or told us when a remote student was in the waiting room so that we could let them in. We all saw random dogs, cats, and siblings join our class virtually, and they all laughed when their teacher tripped over the cord that connected the camera on the student chair to the desktop computer (wait, that might have just been unique to me…). My point is, as the teachers struggled, so did the students. As the teachers navigated their way through a chaotic, unfamiliar school year, so did the students. As we made it to the finish line knowing that the year was not perfect, but we did the best that we could, the students recognized that. Realistically, we were all in it together.
The end of this school year ended up being exactly the same in two big ways: 1.) I still received cards of gratitude, little gifts of appreciation, and personal letters that bring tears to your eyes. 2.) The students really “brought it” when it came to end-of-year projects. It reminded me that many of them STILL CARED ABOUT SCHOOL all the way to the bitter end. We had viewing parties to watch student-created music videos, SNL-like skits, and public service announcements. It was pretty great.
Reflecting back, I now realize that this school year was difficult and unfamiliar, but also pretty darn cool. 🙂
I included images of some the projects that were created by students. I think that it is just as important for me to recognize their efforts, and this is one way that I can do that. For reference, I currently teach three high school courses: AP Government and Politics, The History of Nazi Germany, and Global History 10.