Dear Fellow Teacher, I See You

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Dear fellow teacher,

I see you. I see the worry in your face as you try to make the best decision for you and your family. I see the tears in your eyes as you hand in your resignation from the career you have worked years and years to master. Walking away, from a place that you knew you were called to be can’t be easy. It just can’t.

And I believe you when you tell me that you will be back when everything settles down. Your forced smile appears on your face, if only to keep yourself from crying, as you tell your colleagues goodbye. The people you have shared the last 10 years of your life with on a daily basis, both the good and the not so good. They are your “people.”

With social distancing restrictions in place, those “see you later” hugs are replaced with “air hugs” and warm smiles of support from some of your dearest friends.

You walk the empty halls of the school, one last time, as you haul boxes to your car, and quickly dash into your car as you feel your eyes fill with water. You will always remember the class that you truly never said goodbye to. You hope, with every fiber of your being, that they knew you cared for them and believed in them . . . and still do.

Dear fellow teacher, I see you. I see the excitement of “back to school” prep work being dampened by the health mandates and regulations being pushed down on you from state officials. I see you trouble shooting ways to give your students, many you have never even met, the best educational experience possible during these trying times. 

I see you spend your own money to make things special for your students. I know that despite everything that is going on, you are going to make sure that your students enjoy school — masks and all. You wonder what you can do to ease their own fears of the “new normal” as you try to manage your own concerns as discreetly as you can.

Should moms send their children to school for the 2020-2021 yearYou know, unequivocally, you have to be strong for the students that will be left in your care. And so you rise up, and do so without hesitation . . . because as teachers, that is what we do.

You wonder how many more minutes will tick by before more changes are announced. At this point, it is no longer “if they do,” but “when they do” because you and I both know they will. When they do, you pause for a minute in your planning, switch gears, and try again. Your unwavering determination keeps you going until a solution is found. 

Dear fellow teacher, I see you as you scroll through social media about the controversy surrounding our nation on whether or not schools should open. I see your face light up when people acknowledge the dedication you have given, year after year, to our community’s future citizens. I see the sadness that comes when disgust and hate are spewed your way. Words shouldn’t hurt, or so they say, but gosh, sometimes they really, really do.

Dear fellow teachers, I see you ALL.

I see those of you who cannot safely return to school this fall because of your family’s needs and that is okay.

I see those of you who are able to return to school with little-to-no risk to those that you love and that is okay.

I see those of you that are single moms of young children of your own and you have no other choice but to return to school.  

I see you all. I am here for you all. I stand with you all. None of us went into the teaching profession for the fame and fortune it brings. We chose this career because of our desire to help others. And sometimes, it is the teachers, themselves, that need the help.

We need empathy, kindness, grace, encouragement, and support to do our jobs in the coming weeks and months. And, in return, we promise to nurture your children through the most unpredictable school year in modern time. Oh, what a journey it will be!

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