As a teacher, do l always have to put on a brave face for my students? Can I let them know that I, too, am sad and worried? I am sad that I won’t be able to go on the end-of-the-year field trips and see them celebrate their “lasts” as 8th graders; and enjoy the last couple months in my classroom before moving to a new room next year. I am sad we were never able to have our end-of-quarter reward parties. I’m sad that the face-to-face relationships I’ve built all year with students were just suddenly taken away. I’m worried that for many of my students remote learning will make it impossible to continue those relationships and what many of my students’ home lives may be. I’m worried that my students won’t have the resources they need during this time and that I can’t help them like I want to.

If we don’t go back to school at all this year, then I’ll never have the chance to say good-bye to this group of students and tell them face-to-face how proud I am of all of them.

From the moment our school buildings were shut down, the educator inside us all kicked into overdrive as we had to completely shift to a new world of teaching. I am trying to go above and beyond to make the remote learning experience engaging and worthwhile for my students. I have been spending countless hours searching for and creating engaging online lessons and content, emailing colleagues, students and parents, collaborating with other educators in virtual Google Meetings, and creating ways to connect and check-in with students to support their mental and social well being. While these are the physical motions I am going through, the emotions I am feeling are much different than usual. The usual emotions that come with planning a lesson are excitement and anticipation.

However, new emotions have taken over – anxiety, sadness, uncertainty, worry, self-doubt, and fear. “Is this engaging?” “Will they understand this online?” “Will they even log-in?” “Did I choose the right topic?” “I wish I could teach this in person.” “I wonder what other responsibilities the student has.” “This assignment is not the priority right now.” All of these thoughts run through my mind among countless others as I lay awake at night.

At the end of the day, the most important thing I want my students to know is, I care. Am I brave, sad, worried, scared? The answer is secondary. If my students know they are loved and cared for, that is what matters. In the end, parents, teachers, and students, we will get through this together.

Author: Janelle B., Teacher in Illinois

The team at Erika’s Lighthouse knows how challenging and difficult this transition is on our teens, educators, parents and others. We are here to help and support our young people. We have launched an exciting new campaign that will provide meaningful, practical resources for teens, educators and parents.