Real Women, Real Stories: Pandemic Edition, vol. 7
Intro by Lisa Butler: Many different professions took a hard hit during the pandemic and we all know that teachers are one of them! Teaching is a challenging profession in a typical year, but having to learn a whole new way of teaching (virtually) while many were also juggling their own children at home, adds another challenging element. Since we began the Real Women, Real Stories Pandemic Edition I have really wanted to hear from a teacher. Luckily over the summer and somewhat out of the pandemic woods, I found a teacher brave enough to share her story anonymously.
Education is my world. It is what I live and breathe every day. I have been an elementary school teacher for 17 years and when the pandemic hit, it turned my world upside down. I remember the day so vividly. It was Thursday, March 12, 2020, the day before Friday the 13th. It was announced that schools would be closed for two weeks due to the coronavirus. Cheers roared throughout the school building as if there was a gigantic snow storm approaching. People were classroom hopping- do you have enough toilet paper, milk, hand sanitizer and alcohol at home? Two weeks, what a dream. I could stay home with my kids, sleep in, make the breakfast that they love, and just enjoy time together.
Boy was I wrong. That is when the nightmare began. I started trying to arrange playdates for my kids and noticed that families were not allowing their children to play. I was not seeing my family, my number one support system. That is when I started to worry. This was much more serious than a snow storm. This was probably going to last more than two weeks and panic started to build. Gloves, mask wearing, and now, online teaching was to begin.
I love my job, but my priority is being a mom. My kids at the time were in 1st and 2nd grade - both with learning disabilities. My daughter was just diagnosed with dyslexia. How in the world was I supposed to teach online and be the teacher to both of my young children who struggle with learning? I felt lost, stressed, and my heart was breaking for all children: my own children and my students. This was not school; this was not how their learning experience was supposed to go. I prayed that schools would reopen and that the virus would disappear. People would say that my children were so lucky to have a mom who was a teacher. In actuality, I wasn’t able to give my own children the attention that they needed or deserved. I was too focused on making sure that my school families were staying above water. The only lucky one in the house was our sweet dog, who enjoyed every second of us being home with her!
As the new school year began, I was hopeful that we would be back in school soon. That the county would make it a priority to get our children in school quickly. Education is not just about academics; it is learning life skills as well. Children of all ages were missing out on life. Virtual learning continued for most of the school year. Frustrated and stressed, we made it, and we were healthy. I taught kindergarten for the first year- online. I taught 5- and 6-year old’s over a computer when some came to me not even knowing their letter names. It was a struggle, but the biggest struggle was making sure that my own children were thriving in 2nd and 3rd grade. Our home was turned into a school, and it left us all feeling empty.
As I reflect, it was a hard time in our lives. When I dig deeper, I realize that we will probably never have this much time together as a family again. We had each other through it all, and in the end, that is what matters the most. My kids will move on from it, as kids are more resilient than adults. We are hopeful that next school year brings normality for all - teachers, families, and especially our kids. 😊