It is now week four of distance learning and I feel like we’ve finally turned a corner in my house. My boys have slowly eased into this now somewhat familiar routine of school at our kitchen table. This morning, while watching chapel over a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, one of my boys realized today would have been his field day. He let out a heavy sigh and carried on with his breakfast. He didn’t say anything, he didn’t have to. I could tell he was upset. I recognized this sadness. Moments later he looked up at me and stated simply, “I miss school. I really miss my friends, Mom.”
I knew the exact feeling he was expressing at this moment because I’ve also been feeling it for weeks. Sadness. Loss. Grief. I have immense gratitude for my health, my family’s health, the ability to be safe while working from home, a fully stocked pantry, and a multitude of working devices for my family to use during this time. I realize I have many privileges others are not afforded at this time. We can be grateful for all the things we have and still feel really sad, anxious, or confused about this new reality. There can be grief among our gratitude. We teach our students to identify and name their feelings. I think it is imperative we recognize and list those things we are grateful for, however, I think it is equally important to acknowledge and name our losses. And right now I am grieving the loss of the end of this school year with my current class.
I reassured my son that it was absolutely normal to be feeling down and missing his peers. I shared with him that his teachers were all also missing school and their students. And then, I thought about all the things I was so deeply missing about being at school.
I miss the energy of being on campus and the routine that comes with a school week. I miss walking into a quiet classroom each morning and turning on my computer in anticipation of a busy day ahead. I miss greeting boys and siblings and an occasional furry friend during Monday morning carpool.
I miss teaching in a way that was familiar to me. I miss walking into chapel to be greeted by my students’ high fives and hugs, especially Monday mornings when students were eager to share about the adventures they had the weekend prior. I miss my student’s little hands stretched outward to hold mine as we moved across campus from our class to another. I miss the noise, chaos, and magic of a classroom in action.
I am grateful for the many platforms in which we can connect with one another via technology, but I miss the feeling of community that comes with actually being at SAA, the interactions and laughter from co-workers and friends. I miss watching the boys interact -- watching them love each other like brothers. There is no joy quite like seeing a student run to hug his fifth grade lunch buddy after a long weekend. I miss being together.
I even miss little things I never expected to. The passing period bells that never seemed to fail to interrupt a story or lesson. I miss refereeing a kickball game, playground tattling, and boys throwing rocks. I long for the feeling of fresh air and the sound of freedom engulfed in laughter. I miss repeating directions and trying to squeeze into a chair three sizes too small. I miss a floor covered in paper scraps and scattered glue stick caps -- a sign of a busy day of work and play.
I miss the bustle and frenzy of the afternoon carpool. I miss the quiet of the classroom, MY classroom, after a long day combined with the excitement that those little boys I already missed, would be back tomorrow, a reality that no longer holds true.
We all left school on a Thursday, students and teachers alike, both ready and excited for a much-anticipated Spring Break, eager to return the following week because the joy that awaited us was immeasurable. This plan changed. Abruptly. Our story will look a bit different now, especially the ending.
So, I get it. I really do. I am heartbroken for my three boys who are missing out on these final few weeks of this school year together with their teachers and classmates who they miss so much. I understand when my son sighs and says, “I miss school. I miss my friends, Mom,” because I do too. I miss school, and more than anything I miss my students. I am so grateful that I am their teacher, and I cannot wait to see each of them again.
Marci and her fellow Pre-K teacher, Trisha Sinclair, use Google Meet as one technology platform to connect with students. Watch this off-the-rails first attempt at Meet four weeks ago with their four-and-five-year-olds.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Marci Gutierrez, Pre-K Teacher; mother to three Academy boys