An Open Letter to Teachers during a Global Pandemic

My Dear Fellow Educator,

I see you. 

You are the one over there at home trying to take care of yourself and your family in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. You may not be a healthcare provider or first responder, but you are used to being in the frontline of the daily battle to maintain a healthy, thriving society. Except today, you aren’t allowed to go to battle.

On a normal day, you deliver multiple lessons, answer hundreds – no, thousands – of questions, provide academic guidance and personal counseling, listen to students with problems much greater than yours, bend over backwards to meet the demands of administration and standardized testing, coordinate a child’s education with their parents, and act as a parent to a child who has none. 

You work hard to make your classroom a safe place for your students. You create an environment where they can come in and breathe a sigh of relief, leaving the weight of the world at the door. You plan and teach and pray the students understand, and then adjust your approach when they don’t. You give your best each day in class and then go home worried at night, feeling as though you have let your students down. You show up early and leave late, and then put in countless hours in the evening and on the weekends that go unnoticed and unpaid. 

You work hard to make a mandated curriculum relevant and accessible while sneaking in the life lessons you know your kids need. You sow seeds that you never get to see bloom, and you impact the lives of children who never have the opportunity to say thank you. You endure criticism from administrators who have lost touch with what it means to be in the classroom. You get accusations from some parents and praise from others. 

You do all of this in a day, and you do it because you love your kids.

Except today is different. Today, like the days before and the days to come, you are told to stay home. Today you wonder again where all of your school children are, whether or not they are properly fed and clothed, how they are feeling, what they are doing, and what they are learning. You fret from home while you can do nothing because you know it’s in their best interest not to be in the one place where you long to be the most: your classroom.

But you can do something. You can use this time to take care of yourself, something you don’t get to do for at least nine months out of the year. You can take that walk, sleep in a little late, or watch television without grading papers or making lesson plans. You can sit down at the dinner table and give all of your attention to your own loved ones, guilt-free. You can nap in the afternoon and sip coffee on the patio and read your favorite book. You can take care of you and yours during this indefinite time, because this time will not last forever.

One day you will return to the semblance of life as you once knew it. One day you will go back to that classroom and open your doors wide. You will get up before sunrise and go to bed long after sunset. You will hug your students every single day and tell them how much you love them, and you will spend every spare moment preparing and delivering quality instruction – for school, for life. 

When you do go back to that classroom, your kids will need you more than ever. For now, rest. 

Breathe. 

Live. 

Dream. 

Hope. 

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