Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Teaching is my first love.

I started teaching in 1985 with my first class of three imaginary students in the basement of my parents house.  I decorated my classroom on a shoestring budget and spent my every dollar on enrichment materials.

Proud of the work that I was doing with these three pretend pupils, I kept daily attendance, assigned grades, and took discipline very seriously.  I would trudge up the stairs after a particularly challenging class and sigh deeply, complaining to my parents about the poor behavior of my unruly, imaginary students.  I was invested.  I had a deep connection to these make-believe lives and it pained me when the time came to give them up.

As I matured so did my love for teaching.  I fell in love with the profession and never looked back.

In the novice years of my teaching career, my passion grew deeper.  My heart ached when I left on maternity leave to have my first child.  I obsessed about what would become of "my kids" without me there to guide them.

Over my 18 years in education I have had days that bring you to your knees and years that make me believe I'll last until the fat lady sings.  There have been periods when my love for my job nearly swallowed me whole.

I have struggled with lack of time and loads of paperwork.  I have endured new learning initiatives  and performance pressure from school administrators.  I have worked tirelessly to challenge my students to meet the standards set by government authorities and perform well on high stakes testing.  I have handled lack of discipline and diverse learning needs.

But I have never had an experience like this.

I sit in my makeshift office waiting for a single student to reach out via Zoom.  I have been sitting in this same chair and staring at various versions of myself since late March when schools took a hard left into online learning due to Covid-19.

My double monitor set up is designed to make me fully functional and available to teach in this new remote learning realm.  Primed and ready for phantom students who never arrive.

The sudden disconnect on March 12th was harsh and final.  The virus robbed us of our normal.  The faces, the smiles, even the sullen teenage looks and exaggerated eye rolls -- the energy and life of education.  Gone in an instant.

A "doorbell" rings from inside my computer alerting me to a student waiting to enter my Zoom call.  It's a sound I don't hear frequently and my heart leaps at the idea that for a few minutes today I will get to teach a student face to face.  I admit him into my virtual classroom and feel a burst of "first day" jitters.  A tiny spark in a fire I thought had burned down to embers.

His face enters the screen and we exchange a warm greeting.  Rarely have I been so excited to see another person.  He is waiting for me to guide him, to help him, to teach him and I do so eagerly.

The session lasts for 40 amazing minutes and for that brief time I feel normal.  Connected and engaged.

He finishes his work and thanks me for my assistance.  With a wave he is gone and I am alone again left to teach imaginary students in a virtual world.

I guess I just miss my kids.

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